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View Full Version : Using gravel to combat mud in pastures?



pj
Nov. 30, 2008, 01:26 PM
My horses have made the most horrible mud around gates in the pastures. I've spent piles on mulch but it just doesn't work. Am thinking of using gravel around all the gates but haven't a clue on which size would be best. I "think" sand would just wash away but think the gravel pushed down into the mud would hold. Anyone have experience with this? Pea sized to golf ball sized? Thoughts appreciated.

Erin Pittman
Nov. 30, 2008, 01:32 PM
It can work quite well, but it's not as simple as just putting gravel down. If you do it without some site preparation, you'll lose your gravel over time (it'll sink down into the mud). Here's a good factsheet about how to build a "heavy use pad" around high traffic areas. At my old farm, I did my whole sacrifice area (about 3000 sq ft) as a heavy use pad. I had to hire someone to do the excavation and installation and, in all, it cost me about $4000 but I thought it was sooooo worth it because it was so much easier to clean and kept my horses drier and not knee-deep in mud!
http://www.mda.state.md.us/pdf/mud07.pdf

At our farm, we've done a poor-man's version of it that involves old carpet remnants as a base and wood chips on top. I works but only lasts one season.

OTTBs4Ever
Nov. 30, 2008, 01:37 PM
I find that sand works much better than gravel. Have you considered that?

gonsouth
Nov. 30, 2008, 01:42 PM
I solved the mud problem at my gate areas by dumping stone dust, also called screenings and decomposed granite. I would then smooth it out with a tractor rake or front loader run backwards. The stone dust packs down more than larger gravel and lasts longer. I have since moved to an area with sandy soil, and no longer have that problem, but when I lived in PA. the mud was awful. Usually, one or two three yard loads woul cover most gates.

Dalemma
Nov. 30, 2008, 01:45 PM
Just about any gravel will work........the trick is to do it in the summer before the problem of mud arises.......the second trick is to prepare the area, it should be graded for slope so water runs away from the area rather then sitting around the gate........and depending on your situation you may need to dig down and place pit run in first then cover it with gravel.

Emma

pj
Nov. 30, 2008, 01:56 PM
OH WOW!! I didn't realize this was going to be complicated.:(
The areas that I need to do are very small and it looks like to get ANY gravel I'm going to have to order a whole load but that's ok. We'll just pile it somewhere and it'll be there if we need it. I don't think they'll be able to "mix" gravel though. They'll want to know what size and that'll be it. I really was wondering about horses feet and which would hold up better the larger or the smaller. We can manually dig the mud out if that's what needed and can find something to put down as a base, but, I really really don't want to have to buy more than one load of something. The main one (gate) I'm worried about right now is actually on a hill but a ditch won't work as it would need shovling out after every rain.

Equilibrium
Nov. 30, 2008, 02:14 PM
Hello from mud and muck central!

Really it isn't that simple. You actually have to dig out, then lay big heavy stones which we call, slig, then add the top layer. Only 2 of our gateways managed to get done this year before the crap weather, but wow what a difference! We also have woodchip pens to bring in horses out of the muck at night. Same thing, had to do quite a bit digging down, huge stone, drain pipe, then smaller stone, then woodchip. They are good alright, but it's not simple.

Terri

goodhors
Nov. 30, 2008, 02:14 PM
You may want to work out a plan. Dumping dirt, stone, gravel, into the wet spot is a fixup, doesn't stay over the long term. We too, did that a number of times, really a waste of money and material, unless you get the gate area set up BEFORE dumping. If you have a downhill slope, maybe digging out a ditch area, putting in drainage tile to remove water, would prevent the muck hole at gate.

Carpet base under crushed stone, gravel fill, sounds useful if you have old carpet available. We used geotextile fabric after losing YARDS of fill over the years. NOW the gates are not boot-sucking pits where the horses stand.

Renting machines makes dirt moving much easier, faster, something people may not know about as an option. Skidsteers, backhoes with buckets make jobs easy, are not hard to drive. Scrape and smooth the paddocks, driveways off while you have it there.

Get a plan BEFORE jumping in. Getting cold here, hand digging is not working, so this might be a spring project in your location. Rubber mats under the gate might be useful for now, if you have some extras.

pj
Nov. 30, 2008, 02:25 PM
<sick smile> I get it....okay, not simple. Thanks for the suggestions, Everyone. I can do this...I can.

Erin Pittman
Nov. 30, 2008, 02:39 PM
Carpet base under crushed stone, gravel fill, sounds useful if you have old carpet available. We used geotextile fabric after losing YARDS of fill over the years. NOW the gates are not boot-sucking pits where the horses stand.


We got our carpet remnants for free from a local carpet company. They aren't big enough to do a whole room and Steuart literally went dumpster-diving (with their permission) to get some pieces big enough to do the gate areas. We also are lucky enough to have a brother-in-law who works for a tree company, so we got the wood chips for free, too.

shakeytails
Nov. 30, 2008, 08:29 PM
Another firm believer in geotextile fabric here! It may seem a little expensive, but it'll save major bucks in gravel over the years.

sid
Nov. 30, 2008, 09:16 PM
Not a big deal. Fill with "crusher run" - a mix of gravel and stone dust. Or even a lot of rocks.

Pile it about a foot higher than the level ground right over the mud. They'll tromp it in. Once it dries out and the stone get down under the base you won't have a mud problem again. I've been doing this for 22 years and I've had as many as 35 horses passing through gate areas that caused the problem. Once I did this, I've never had to "redo".

Sometimes solutions are simpler than people make them out to be. I'd try this and see how it works for you and your soil and traffic.

Lexus
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:02 PM
Well, I have to agree with Sid and disagree with everyone else. I just did my gates with crusher run #1.

My main gate is located at the bottom of a hill near where a small spring drains. The only site 'prep' was I put down no fatigue restaurant mats, the big rubber ones with holes in them. I covered a roughly 12X12 area then dumped the crusher run on top. I also did this in another high traffic mud hole a few years ago, haven't had a problem in 4 years.

The truck load of crusher run was less than $300.

jazzrider
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:11 PM
Another vote for crusher run -- it's all we've used for our gate areas and pad outside the barn. You'll lose a lot of stone to the mud if you don't try to scrape off the topsoil (mud!) before putting it down. But in desperate winter times, we've just dumped stone on mud and like sid says, it worked out.

goodhors
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:11 PM
The base dirt in your locale can make a huge difference in what stays and disappears. Anything with clay just eats fill, any kind, as much as you want to pour onto it. Some years of use by horses, fill is gone. Sand or limestone rock, rock of mountains, that kind of base could be a whole different story.

I lost a whole load, dumptruck and trailer worth of crushed limestone in the walking area behind our barn. Small area, large, DEEP load of stone, which the base dirt swallowed without the fabric to hold it in place. Wasn't fast, probably lasted 5years, but it is gone now, needs another load to remove mud. Next load will have fabric first to prevent loss of stone.


Not a big deal. Fill with "crusher run" - a mix of gravel and stone dust. Or even a lot of rocks.

Pile it about a foot higher than the level ground right over the mud. They'll tromp it in. Once it dries out and the stone get down under the base you won't have a mud problem again. I've been doing this for 22 years and I've had as many as 35 horses passing through gate areas that caused the problem. Once I did this, I've never had to "redo".

Sometimes solutions are simpler than people make them out to be. I'd try this and see how it works for you and your soil and traffic.

Eventingjunkie
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:21 PM
We put crushed run at the entrances to seven of our pastures three years ago. Before we did this, the mud was suctioning the boots off my feet. Now the footing at the gates are high and dry. I figure in another year or two we might have to top off the entrances with a little more crushed run, no big deal...easy fix. Good luck!

pj
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:54 PM
Oh, thank y'all so much!! I don't mind replacing the crusher run when it needs it. Going to have a whole big truck load anyhow.
<happy sigh>

deltawave
Dec. 1, 2008, 12:23 AM
We had about 2/3 yard of leftover gravel from a project up by the house, and my husband dumped it all in the squishy part of my sacrifice paddock. It's not going to survive the winter, probably, in its lovely, gravelly state, but it sure has made a difference. Little by little we're changing the location of the "low spot" in that paddock, and that will be more effective. But right now we're just waiting for spring, and see what's there when the snow melts. :sigh:

Equilibrium
Dec. 1, 2008, 02:01 PM
Well sorry to say, but digging off the topsoil and adding the rock has worked for us quite well actually. And I doubt you will find a muddier place than Ireland. Hell, we didn't even have a dry summer.

Terri

jazzrider
Dec. 1, 2008, 02:26 PM
pj -- If you're going to do it the quick and easy way (dump a load of rock on your mud), don't tamp it or drive it down with your tractor so it's rock hard -- until you've had one rain. Sometimes you'll create new mud/drainage issues with the rocks (unless you or your SO are drainage experts!). Watch how the water flows over it and around it. You may find you want to shift things a bit before driving it into the ground, literally. Clearly this is a lesson we learned the hard way. :winkgrin:

sweetpea
Dec. 1, 2008, 04:35 PM
I would scoop out he excess , but either way in the gravel world there is a rock called #8's
It is a round rock and is wonderful in about 3 -4 inches. It is not sharp and because it is round moves easy . Which is good for freezing!!! Pea stone is great two. Now if it is hilly maybe not because again it is round. The only thing I don't like about the crusher dust is if it is limestone it will keep breaking down..

My best advice is talk to a gravel pit and tell them what your trying to do --- they have been so helpful to me.

Guilherme
Dec. 1, 2008, 04:42 PM
My horses have made the most horrible mud around gates in the pastures. I've spent piles on mulch but it just doesn't work. Am thinking of using gravel around all the gates but haven't a clue on which size would be best. I "think" sand would just wash away but think the gravel pushed down into the mud would hold. Anyone have experience with this? Pea sized to golf ball sized? Thoughts appreciated.

Run, don't walk, to your local Extension Office. They have lots of good information on stabilizing ground around gates, feeders, water tanks, etc. This is NOT just a case of putting out some gravel; there's other work to be done.

You can also try your local Soil Conservation office.

G.

pj
Dec. 1, 2008, 05:02 PM
pj -- If you're going to do it the quick and easy way (dump a load of rock on your mud), don't tamp it or drive it down with your tractor so it's rock hard -- until you've had one rain. Sometimes you'll create new mud/drainage issues with the rocks (unless you or your SO are drainage experts!). Watch how the water flows over it and around it. You may find you want to shift things a bit before driving it into the ground, literally. Clearly this is a lesson we learned the hard way. :winkgrin:
Excellent point and one I didn't think of. Thank you! :)

Juneberry
Dec. 1, 2008, 06:15 PM
wow talk about a bunch of complicated ideas. I live in oregon and we have clay 1 foot below the surface of our dirt so all the water just "floats" on the surface of the clay and we end up with knee deep mud if we aren't careful.

We bought some of the big course gravel (the stuff they use for road beds and dumped it in the muddy areas and then ran it over with the tractor (or truck) to pack it. then dumped more big gravel and ran it over again. After that we dumped the regular gravel rocks on top and ran over with the tractor several times. and added more if it was still super squishy.

Unfortunately you won't really see a big difference untill the dirt hardens up in the summer. But once the gravel and dirt harden together it's packed like concrete and nice and solid. we've even put dirt on top and planted grass with success. and ended up with mighty nice footing around our high trafic areas for a fraction of the price of most of the remidies I'm seeing here.

don't forget to keep the areas you fix mucked though, hay, shavings and manure all decompose to mud and after a few years of that you'll be back to where you started with the mud.

Bluey
Dec. 1, 2008, 06:39 PM
We also have clay and cattle pens and if you don't put something down, where they tromp it can get knee deep.
You may call your electric company and if they have a coal fired plant, you can get their ash, that is great for a base.
Here it is free for the hauling.

We also have used and just got in several loads of "road base", that is left over from resurfacing highways, ask the highway department for contractors doing work right now and some of it is free, if it has chunks in there you can pick up later, I just did that a little while ago and some of it is clean and they charge for that.

Keep checking around, you will find something yet.
Good idea to ask around, the local county Soil Conservation Office, that will be run out of the USDA office, or the county agent at the courthouse.
Also ask any neighbors that have been there long, especially any with cattle pens or milking barns.
They use geotextile cloths under gravel for their paths to the milking barn.

Klang34
Dec. 1, 2008, 09:11 PM
my barn uses woodchips in the winter to handle mud. it works really well and we just add more every 2 months or everytime it rains hard. we get a 2 story pile delivered and use a bucket tractor to transport. works well for us. :winkgrin:

bluemoonfarms
Dec. 1, 2008, 09:52 PM
You might want to use Cow Carpet http://www.clothwipers.com/p_cow_carpet.htm I haven't used this myself but have heard that it works really well. Good Luck. :):)

Serigraph
Dec. 2, 2008, 02:13 PM
what about pea gravel? anyone had success with that if it is not too big of an area and not too much traffic?

PonyPile
Dec. 2, 2008, 04:07 PM
I just threw down gravel in my gate area. It became the highest and driest spot to be, so I extended the area out into the field a bit for the horses to hang out on. They have mixed it in a bit, but it is still the higher and drier area.
Ill be doing that again with the new paddock I put in.

SpotsNChrome
Dec. 19, 2008, 07:28 AM
From the husband who trucks for a living! Use 2A Modified and it will pack like cement over time. You can also use "quarter inch rice" which is a nicer model of gravel, looks good too. We just put over the area by the gates. Horses pack it down and it lasts a few years.
Cost about $300 will service five areas with left over for the driveway, etc.

Mags
Dec. 19, 2008, 11:06 AM
When I read this I chuckle, there are so many differant names and grades of gravel. It seems to change region to region. I'd suggest to the OP when picking a size think about how your going to move the material from your stock pile. If you have a machine larger sizes are ok, but if your using a wheel borrow and shovel smaller size is a little easier to move from place to place.

We used landscape fabric under just 1 1/2 stone at two differant gates and that's lasted for about 4 years now.

Good luck

Mosey_2003
Jan. 26, 2009, 03:09 PM
As a scale girl at a gravel pit, I also read this and chuckle at the gravel names listed, as I haven't heard of any of them! :lol: Your best bet is to call your closest pit and tell them what you want to accomplish and ask who they recommend to deliver. Personally, I'd recommend road base, commonly called CA6 or 1" Down. It'll have mostly 3/4" rock with the 'fines', the lime dust, so that it will pack down. It helps to have an idea of what you're looking for though because sometimes they won't really have any sort of idea about horses and mud, etc. I don't know about all quarries, but sometimes you can get 'rejects' at a discount too because the rock wasn't uniform enough in size to meet the state specifications, so it helps to check around.

lorilu
Jan. 26, 2009, 04:49 PM
I just put down the mats with holes in them from tractor supply. The holes gradually fill with dirt, and no more mud. Put them down when the ground is (relatevly) stable and dry.
L