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Renovating a dry lot--how shall I proceed?

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  • Renovating a dry lot--how shall I proceed?

    I've been mulling this over in my head for a while, and figured I'd come to the COTH Fount of All Knowledge.

    I have an area that I want to make into a small sacrifice paddock/dry lot. In wet weather, it becomes a gooey, soul sucking mess (I have red clay for soil). So, I want to do three things:

    1. scrape out the red clay crap

    2. put in some sort of footing that will drain, but is relatively inexpensive

    3. fence it to create a small area (~24 x 50)

    My questions are about the order in which I should do this, and what I should use.

    I can have someone come with a bobcat and scrape it out, and it would be most cost effective to have them drill post holes and place posts. Then I guess I would back fill with whatever draining material I want to use. Does that make the most sense?

    Now, what would be best for footing? CR-6 followed by crusher run? Pea gravel? Cow carpet with pea gravel over it? Keep in mind that I don't want to spend a fortune, but it's a high-traffic area. I also do not have my own tractor, so would have to get someone back in do maintenance if needed.

    I'm trying to anticipate all the potential scenarios, and would love to hear about your experiences.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

  • #2
    I can't give any great advice, but if you are in a reasonably horsey area, you might check for advice with your local Soil and Water Conservation District or Cooperative Extension. In Virginia, we actually have horse farm specialists who can advise on these kinds of things in some areas. And they are usually free because by improving your sacrifice area, you're improving water quality.
    Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


    • #3
      ^yes I second that. Especially since if you dig out dirt and stuff your land will be very prone to erosion, which is BAD news for streams.

      I am nit sure if it is terribly necessary to dig everything out. But I would definitely use screenings (maybe also called blue stone?). Thats stuff will compact down and get quite hard.

      Now I am thinking about drainage. Depending on the slope of the land you plan on fencing, it might be a good idea to really put some thought into how the water will drain. You don't want gullies forming in the horse paddock, or at all really. Might be a good idea to plant some sort of buffer area on the down slope so if you do get heavy rain, it can drain into there and have plants to absorb the water.


      • Original Poster

        Ah, I knew I would forget something!

        I did have the adjoining paddock renovated a couple years ago, and we created a wash gully, then seeded it to prevent erosion. But this red clay just holds water, even on a slope. So that's why I'm looking to put down something that will stabilize the footing and keep my guys from having to wade through sticky deep mud.

        Good call on the local Soil Conservation Office! I'm taking some time off next week and I'll see if I can schedule something with them.
        Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


        • #5
          try papers, expensive but will last a long time.


          • Original Poster

            Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


            • #7

              paVers, I swear, it was my keyboard!


              • #8
                I would scrape and get a sloped, draining top surface with the machine first. Even if area is not on a hill, you have to make water WANT to run off. Then put down some drain tile to let the water go where you want it running off. We get the plastic coils of black, fabric covered, 6" tube drain tiles from Home Depot or places like that. I think they come in 50ft coils, have connectors for longer runs, Ts and Ys for hooking them together into one tube. Fabric helps keep dirt or clay from working into the tubing, clogging it up.

                You may want to lay fabric-covered-plastic-drain-tile in shallow ditches across the paddock surface. Then fill over tile with coarse stuff like pea gravel, then lay the geotextile fabric over the WHOLE area, fill with your coarse material, gravel, stone, crusher run. I would not use pea gravel where horses travel on it, slippery and gets stuck in hooves.

                I would lay fabric between, if you are layering with large, coarse material, then a finer material on top for the horses.

                Fabric is not that expensive by the roll, easy to handle and cut. Does need to be WELL covered with dirt or stone, to keep it buried away from horse shoes and feet. It is fairly tough, but not up to horses directly on the fabric. We have used the fabric under our gates, filled over fabric for all weather driving. No more muck holes in wet weather!

                We have clay dirt and it just sucks up any amount of fill you lay on top. Putting down the fabric prevents the loss of the fill, no mixing with the clay.

                Our roll of fabric was large, 14ft wide, VERY long. Did the lane, gates, round pen, still have some left. I can pick up the new roll myself, not that heavy. Cuts with scissors. Wasn't cheap, but saving us buying gravel and stone every couple years, is the big savings. Do a good overlap, so fabric does not move as machine drives on it to spread the fill. We did not use spikes in case they would work up later and horses step on them.

                I would plan to have machine do the scraping, then putting down tile if you use it, fill in the tile ditches. Then lay the fabric, spread fill over it. Dump trucks can just back right in, dump dirt on the fabric area!! Less time moving dirt with machine! EASIER with less handling materials.

                I would do my fence posts and fencing LAST. Machine can move freely wherever it needs to go laying dirt down, packing it. You can put up measured markers for corners, so he fills the right area. Gets the fill depth needed on fabric, not the nearby grass. Then after EVERYTHING else is done, you dig the post holes and put up posts, hang the fence, get the gate in. You may be planning a much smaller gate than the 12-14ft needed for big trucks. Won't matter if no fence is up!!

                You will be glad for doing fence last, no posts killed while spreading fill. NO RE-DOING anything!!

                We bought our geotextile fabric on-line, had the rolls delivered with a semi-truck. Again, awkward size, but not heavy to carry off the truck. No special machine to move the roll. No one locally sold the rolls. I have found lots of uses for the left-over fabric, like a nice path from the house with gravel and stone fill. DRY shoes!! Husband laid fabric under a parking area, put reused asphault over it, to park the semi and trailers on. Great parking area.

                Have everything ready, a plan in place before you start. Where will you use the scraped off dirt? Tiles and couplers on hand. Peastone on hand for filling tiling ditches. Fabric ready in rolls. The fill dirt guys know I will be calling for my loads on Xday, know quantity needed, coarser stuff first, if I am doing two layers. I would call for my fill dirt as the fabric goes down. Our delivery guys come fast, so I want to be ready for them, with fabric down to dump onto. Then get that spead out and even depth on the fabric. Not sure how much of the work day you will have left as he gets that layer down.

                Calling for next layer of fill, will be dependent on how quick the machine driver is spreading and packing base fill down. This could be the only fill you use, make it deep to pack well.

                Are you doing layers of fill? You may want to put a second layer of fabric or not, between layers. Will work either way. Maybe call that day, for early delivery the next morning of second delivery if you need it, and he can get going with that spreading and packing. Then on to the posts and fencing.

                I love it when a project is well thought out, comes together smoothly as pictured and planned.


                • #9
                  You should contact your local water agency/ clean water act state agency and see if you can get some $$ to help with this. If you are preventing erosion and runoff (which you will be) then they are often willing to help.


                  • #10
                    I live in an area that has a deep layer of clay for topsoil. If you put in gravel or any kind of footing when it's at all wet it just gets lost in the mud.

                    I did the footing in my sacrifice area in late August/early September when it was bone dry. I put in 4 inches of 1 1/2 clear gravel, with 4 inches of 5/8 minus on top. No scraping, no fabric.

                    I rented a roller (the smallest one that you drive in, not the push ones) and evened each layer out with the box scraper on my tractor then compacted it with the roller.

                    The area had a slight slope to it to start with so I didn't have to do any grading.

                    Including renting the roller for two days it cost about $1,600 to do a 40' by 80' area, and the footing has lasted well for 4 years, with the last two winters being VERY wet. Sometimes there is standing water in the low spots (where my horse made herself a little hollow to roll in) but there is no clay mud, just wet gravel. Twice I've brought in a couple of pickup truck loads of 5/8 minus to fill in where she digs, spent probably all of $50 in adding new gravel in 4 years.

                    Before I gravelled this area one of my idiot ex-boarders turned her horse out in it in the middle of winter, and the mud was literally up to its knees.


                    • Original Poster

                      Wow, goodhors, awesome information! Thank you for pointing out the finer points of anticipating where the scraped off dirt will go. That's what I'm trying to do--think it through and anticipate everything so there's no surprises.

                      How much did the geotextile fabric cost? And where did you order it from?
                      Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                      • #12
                        Not sure which company husband ordered fabric from. He went online, found a couple sellers. Called them up to check on roll sizes, pricing, shipping costs, and ordered. He is not here to ask on price. Probably more now, last order was about 18 months ago, everything is more now! I think he searched under Geotextile Fabric. If you have a local landscape company, you might call them to ask on fabric prices. Our local companies were not helpful, no rolls of fabric to sell.

                        Writing stuff down, making a plan of what is first, second, for the steps of a job, keeps it orderly. If you are paying the machine man, you want to use him, no sitting around time for wasting your money. So it is up to you, to plan well, be organized. Things to do if your fill is slow coming.

                        Check for farm jobs you can do while machine is on the property. We always scrape the other paddocks to solid dirt, flatten the lane or driveway with bucket blade, move the mucky paddock dirt where needed, when we rent a machine. But husband usually is driving it, no paid driver. Always trying to get the most done for the rental money time.


                        • #13
                          We have clay --- and rain----

                          Did as above, removed soil (too beautiful to waste) down to hardpan, crowned it, swale outside where the fence was to go. Added a layer of big gravel and largish rocks, then a layer of finer gravel, then the blue 3/8ths minus that packs down hard. It was well crowned because it does not drain through as much as run off. Outside where the fence goes is a drainage swale with the coarse gravel in it.

                          A few hours after heavy rain, there are no puddles. Easy to p/u manure.

                          BUT... I do not really like it. It is very hard, horses do not roll in it or lie down. So I put a corner of sand for them. I think rolling is essential to a horse's happiness and back health, like chiropractic for horses.

                          I think it is the best of a bad deal in this climate. They are in at night so do get to sleep.

                          My real preference is a wood based product, but it breaks down and needs to be removed
                          so there is added cost. Not gritty and easier and cleaner to brush out. Nothing is l00% perfect, just weigh up the pros and cons.
                          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique