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Draining boggy lawn

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  • Draining boggy lawn

    Hello all,

    With the current state of affairs, I have been considering bringing my horse home in order to prevent being forced to sell him. I live in an area where board is usually over $700/month. While I have a huge flat lawn area, the drainage is horrible and it gets water logged after it rains and I known it will be a muddy soup. The issue is more prevalent during the spring, but can still occur year round. I am wondering if anybody has any tips or advice that will keep the area dry that does not require excavation work. Strictly because we can't afford it, not because I have an issue with it. I'm looking for most effective for the lowest cost aka biggest bang for my buck. For reference, the water table is on the higher side but the biggest issue is the front of our yard is on a hill, so the water drains to the backyard.

    If it's not possible for my budget, then so be it, but I figured I'd at least ask for some opinions. Over the years I've heard all all kinds of crazy stuff that works for people, so maybe I'll get lucky. Thanks, everyone!

  • #2
    Originally posted by sonestra View Post
    Hello all,

    With the current state of affairs, I have been considering bringing my horse home in order to prevent being forced to sell him. I live in an area where board is usually over $700/month. While I have a huge flat lawn area, the drainage is horrible and it gets water logged after it rains and I known it will be a muddy soup. The issue is more prevalent during the spring, but can still occur year round. I am wondering if anybody has any tips or advice that will keep the area dry that does not require excavation work. Strictly because we can't afford it, not because I have an issue with it. I'm looking for most effective for the lowest cost aka biggest bang for my buck. For reference, the water table is on the higher side but the biggest issue is the front of our yard is on a hill, so the water drains to the backyard.

    If it's not possible for my budget, then so be it, but I figured I'd at least ask for some opinions. Over the years I've heard all all kinds of crazy stuff that works for people, so maybe I'll get lucky. Thanks, everyone!
    I don’t think there’s a magic bullet here - either you divert water before it gets to the area, or you alter the area itself (swales, etc) to convey water through the area in a more controlled fashion. Without knowing the exact layout of your property, it’s hard to say how difficult either would be. But your hunch about cost is probably right even if you can do the work yourself, any excavation and regrading gets expensive fast. Messing around with drainage without being able to do it right (such as laying down rock in new swales) is a very easy way to create even more mud and send your yard downstream!

    If it’s a small area, you’d probably want to have a dry lot anyway. Which is also not free.

    In an emergency, you might just do it and wreck the area until you can board again - But of course mud is not ideal for the health and safety of the horse (nor is being alone or without shelter). It would be risky.

    Can you investigate pasture board options in your area? An established pasture with a herd would be much easier and cheaper. . .

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      That's pretty much what I figured. I know people who have rented equipment and excavated themselves, or done French drains, poked holes, etc with success, but I'm afraid to mess around with limited knowledge. The area is about an acre.

      We already have a barn, so shelter is accounted for. It would be the fencing and the drainage issue. As for being alone, I have a friend with minis and she offered one of hers.

      There is limited to no pasture board near me unless I moved him out of state, or to the other side of the state, which is always a possibility. Even backyard barns are usually around $600 per month. Acerage is expensive and hard to come by.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Comment


      • #4
        My husband and I just put in more French drains our pasture. About 200 feet worth. He knows how to figure out how to read the land and knew where to put the drains. It cost us $1800 to rent an escavator for the weekend because our backhoe wasn’t big enough?.. about $400 in pipe and about $1500 in stone. Good news was that it pasture really did improve quickly. I am planning to keep horses off that field until it settles - 3-6 months maybe and then evaluate how safe it is. I might have been able to turn them out sooner but I don’t need to.

        I don’t know what a contractor would ask for it. Took about 4 days of hard work, but hubby is furloughed right now so he got to play with big equipment and dirt...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by rememberthenight View Post
          My husband and I just put in more French drains our pasture. About 200 feet worth. He knows how to figure out how to read the land and knew where to put the drains. It cost us $1800 to rent an escavator for the weekend because our backhoe wasn’t big enough?.. about $400 in pipe and about $1500 in stone. Good news was that it pasture really did improve quickly. I am planning to keep horses off that field until it settles - 3-6 months maybe and then evaluate how safe it is. I might have been able to turn them out sooner but I don’t need to.

          I don’t know what a contractor would ask for it. Took about 4 days of hard work, but hubby is furloughed right now so he got to play with big equipment and dirt...
          Do you have any pictures or anything of this? This sounds really interesting but I'm having a hard time picturing the drains on a scale as you describe.

          Comment


          • #6
            What are your state, county, town codes/zoning regulations on having livestock? You need to get this information before you invest in bringing your horse home and then face fines and have to go back to boarding or sell him.

            Have you budgeted for hay, grain, wormer, bedding? Do you have a place to store a bulk amount of hay? With minimal acreage, you will be feeding hay year round. Will your vet and farrier come to visit your area? Are there vets/farriers that will service just one horse in your area?

            Ideally you won't want your horses near your well or over your drain field. This will cut down on the amount of usable acreage you have. With just one acre, you will need to do a sacrifice area, or your whole lawn will become a sacrifice area. The best place to put the dry lot would be near the barn. Hopefully the barn is on high ground. Depending on your soil, you may be able to get by with just adding rock dust or crush and run to the dry lot. You could start with a pick up bed load at a time, and increase the footing in the dry lot as you have funds available. When I first built my barn, I only had x dollars for footing. I had a 36'x40' area prep out of a 36'x110' dry lot. The first year they were home we got 72" of rain (normal is 45"). They spent quite a bit of time in the dry lot. I noticed they spent most of that time on the footing. The second year they were home I got another load of footing material and had that spread. They now have an area of solid footing that is 36'x85'. I am hoping to get the last of the area done in the next year.

            Does your horse respect fencing? Electric will be your cheapest option, but it won't save you any money if he won't stay in it. You will be best served by doing the corners correctly (wooden posts that are braced) and using metal T posts (with protective caps) for the rest of your perimeter fencing. You can use step in t posts for any cross fencing. I don't suggest using them for the perimeter because they are so short.

            Don't forget you will need to have a plan for your manure. Horses make LOTS of manure.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              We bought this property in order to use it for horses, so we already did our research and approved the project with our town. We decided to hold off on the the project for a few years to save money.

              Plenty of vets, farriers, etc in this area. I rough boarded for many years in the next town over, (doing the care myself at an outside facility is no longer an option as I can't risk covid exposure) so I know exactly how much my horse costs per month as far as hay, shavings, grain, supplements, vet, dentist, farrier, and deworming. I can afford all of that, without issue. I just can't afford almost $800 for board alone, with minimal hay to boot. The extras are property installations and upkeep. As for the barn, it is on the higher part of the property, and the land rolls off from the front of it into the backyard.

              Our neighbor is building a home next to us, and they installed a french drain. I would have asked the workers about the project, but all construction has been halted due to covid so they have not returned to work.

              Thanks!

              Comment


              • #8
                OP, does your barn have stalls or is it open? Couple of ideas for you that might work in a pinch since it sounds like this is going to be a temporary situation....if barn is open, can you bed the whole thing and use it as a "covered paddock" when it's too wet to turn out on your pasture?

                If that wouldn't work, can you designate a small area as your dry lot? Around here, a truck load of screenings is cheap (like under $100) and if you're able and willing to rake it out by hand, you could essentially build a small drylot yourself. It won't hold up forever, but will buy you time until you have the money to do it right.

                Do you have a place to ride? Its not totally uncommon for some barns to not turn out when it's wet and the pastures will get torn up. If you're able to ride daily, would your horse do okay being stalled a few days in a row until things dry out?

                Comment

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