NOT another geotextile thread- I know that's the right way to go but we just can't do it now. There's way too much going on right now and I can't afford it. But... from building, moving dirt around, etc., right outside the barn one of the horse's paddocks is just dirt, which is all mud right now. Is there ANYTHING that would help at all that I could put on it? I know I really need to dig all of that out and lay the geotextile, but even the areas where we have the stonedust on top of the dirt are better. My horse has COPD so when the mud does dry out I'm not psyched about having just plain dirt and would rather have gravel or something other than plain dirt. How long can I expect a footing to last before sinking in?
Thanks for the suggestions. His COPD (right now at least) will not like straw anywhere near him. We don't even keep regular hay on hand- he's only on soaked cubes since he couldn't handle wet hay anymore. I think I like the rock and pea gravel the best, I guess I just don't know how long it will last without sinking down into the muck...
It depends on your soil. I put down the crushed bluestone in the really muddy area around my barn that is a clay base, and its packed down and stayed stable and mud free for about 3 years now, even with all of the snow and rain we got through the fall and winter. I'll probably have to add to it at some point down the road, but DH is a lot more amenable to doing that than he was to the idea digging everything up and putting down geotextile. Sometimes you just have to make do with what the other half is willing to put effort into, I guess.
In addition to the ideas presented, when you work any of that ground to prep for carpet or gravel, be sure to grade a slight slope into it. My round pen/arena doesn't have very good footing, but it does have a bit of a slope, so it at least drains/dries fairly fast.
Another idea to look into is a "french drain", I am told they are not hard to make and will help in areas that want to drain more in the middle. The basic concept is to use an auger (or post hole digger) to make a deep hole, and then fill that hole with gravel. Ideally, put drain tiles or pipes in that hole as a liner, it will keep the gravel from filling up with mud. I think if you search on "french drain" you can get some details.
My husband is non-horsey and can't understand why I want to do things "right", so I hear where you are coming from. But we will all survive :-)