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Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 11, 2015 3:17 PM CST
Our neighborhood lots slope enough so that our spring heavy rains make a river and a lake in my backyard before the water goes down. (Under our fence to our next door neighbors.) I am building a dry creek bed to divert the water as it comes from my up-slope neighbors. Water has eroded what should be the back lawn. I have a side area for the dry creek bed to flow past my compost containers to the back alleyway. What kind of plants do I need to plant that will thrive in the sudden "river" and also through dry spells? I have an abundance of plain white sedum that seems to grow almost anywhere but it would be nice to have some variety. This is zone 7.
Suggestions would be most welcome.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jun 11, 2015 4:10 PM CST
? Shrug!
I think of the area you describe as sort of like a rain garden, but yours more often dry than wet. Here are some rain garden plants; don't know which you will find attractive or which will thrive in your area.
http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/files/2011/05/Rain-Garde...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Jun 11, 2015 4:30 PM CST
What an intriguing problem! You need xeric plants that can thrive in periodic flooding, sounds like. This article about someone who built a dry creek bed in a part of the US (Central Texas) apparently nicknamed "Flash Flood Alley" might have some information you could adapt to your circumstances: http://www.penick.net/digging/?cat=63

I imagine there are irises, for instance, that could work, and though I couldn't be sure from the article it seems like there are numerous plants being used this way in this gardener's dry creek bed. Were it my project I would investigate some of the plants noted here as to their ability to thrive under such extremes of water/dryness.

Good luck!
[Last edited by kylaluaz - Jun 11, 2015 4:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 11, 2015 6:55 PM CST
maryjane said:Our neighborhood lots slope enough so that our spring heavy rains make a river and a lake in my backyard before the water goes down. (Under our fence to our next door neighbors.) I am building a dry creek bed to divert the water as it comes from my up-slope neighbors. ... to the back alleyway.


Great project! And congratulations to you for not cutting a trench right to the next-door-neighbor's fence. They would flood THEIR backyard instead of yours!

Hopefully the back alleyway will continue downhill so the water can find a stream or river to carry it away.

The hardest part is often finding a lowER spot to move the water to! But it sounds like you have two directions that are lower than you are.

Of course I have no idea about your slopes, but sometimes a trench or dry creek bed can be combined with berms to divert water. If the sub-soil you dig out can be thrown a short distance to make a raised berm, you might be able to get away with a shallower trench and move the soil a shorter distance.

Another use for excavated subsoil is to raise the flooding parts of your yard a few inches. Turn them into RAISED beds which will also deflect some flood water.

However, it might increase the work a lot if you have to pull your beds' topsoil aside, move subsoil into the bottom of the bed, then move the topsoil back on top.

If you succeed in lowering the year-round water table, you'll also deepen your root zone throughout the whole yard. With a deeper root zone, plants should be more drought-resistant since they can find water deeper.

(Letting air get deeper into the soil makes the root zone deeper and stops roots from rotting and dying in every flood, then trying to grow back when the waters recede.)

Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 11, 2015 9:23 PM CST
Thanks for the input folks. Thank You! I plan to check out the links for more information. I am in my mid 70s so for me this is a BIG project even though my creek bed is shallow and not very wide. It does work - the last heavy rain went down my trench instead of across the yard. Thumbs up

I dig a few feet every morning before it gets too hot and the next day place my weed block and stones. (I only have about 35 - 40 feet to dig.) Smiling
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Jun 11, 2015 11:11 PM CST
@greene ...

You gave me an idea when you said "rain garden" in your post. I did a Google search for "Arkansas rain gardens" and got several hits, several of which give lists of plants appropriate for this use.

Mary Jane, you can do the same kind of search, but I thought this link might be interesting for you:

https://watersustainability.wordpress.com/urbanresidential/r...

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 12, 2015 11:51 AM CST
maryjane said:... It does work - the last heavy rain went down my trench instead of across the yard. Thumbs up


Great! And every rain will wash your trench deeper and wider.

Maybe when it reaches the right size, you could plant some temporary cover crop like grasses or clover to anchor it, until you get around to buying and establishing the final plants you want.

Or plant anchoring grasses along the sides early on, so the gulley-washers only make it deeper, not wider.

Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 12, 2015 12:34 PM CST
How wonderful to get so many great suggestions by asking just one question on this site! I checked out the links shown and printed out a list of rain garden plants that seemed very helpful. This year I will be pleased to get my dry creek bed dug, stones placed, edges covered with dirt and some sedum planted along the edges to hold it all together until the fall or next spring when I can decide on which plants to complete the project. So thank you all again for saving me research time when I need to be out digging! Smiling Thank You! Hurray!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Jun 12, 2015 3:04 PM CST
Hurray! Hurray!
Please document your progress with lots of photos so we can enjoy watching the project take shape. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 13, 2015 8:21 PM CST
My camera is an old one so the resolution is not wonderful. This first photo shows how extensive the moss is in my backyard. All the top soil has been washed away. When we bought the place in 2009 the back yard was completely covered in pine bark mulch which pooled in the back corner/alleyway with the first big rain. This spring has been very wet so the moss is thriving in the poor wet clay soil.
Thumb of 2015-06-14/maryjane/985602
The second photo shows the beginnings of my project. This side yard (originally a dog run) is only about 10 or 12 feet wide and is separated from the main backyard by a wooden fence. My little ditch for my creek bed is only about 15 inches wide although I am widening it more as I go downhill. The dirt coming out is going along the side to hold down the weed block cloth. As I progress I will add more photos. It may be a couple of weeks before I can get it all dug out.


Thumb of 2015-06-14/maryjane/0cbe48

Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Jun 14, 2015 12:28 PM CST
Would a collection area be in order? When it rains you could harvest the water and use it to water other plants. I this is a permacture technique. @dave might have some suggestions.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jun 14, 2015 12:58 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

A rain garden comes to mind but you still need very good drainage otherwise you end up retaining the anaerobic conditions in the soil there. Some people dig really deep and then fill the hole with good draining stuff like straw, compost and other organic matter.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 14, 2015 3:20 PM CST
Sounds like you do not have an area where water puddles and sets awhile before it drains out (that would be a rain garden). What you have is a creek. It flows fast and hard very suddenly like for a short time and then is gone, correct? You say it has eroded areas of the yard. This means that the movement is powerful enough to move soil. By placing rock in and actually creating a creek, instead of a muddy bed, you can help to prevent some of the washing out. I would suggest plants that root deeply and have strong root systems. They will need this to prevent further washing out of the soil and to keep themselves from washing out. Iris I think would root too shallowly for this. There are some iris that prefer water and those may do ok, but not the bearded kind.
Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 14, 2015 4:50 PM CST
I have a rain barrel but it filled up before I could get a spigot installed. (Another project once I empty it.) I do have a rock basin at the back of this side yard to help slow the water down. Nothing slows the water down when we get those heavy downpours. Here in Arkansas we sometimes get lots of water all at once so I do have more of a flooding river than a rain garden. Because of the sloped land, the water does drain quickly. The backyard has been eroded for so long there is no top soil left to help absorb the water. Once I can get the water diverted by this dry creek bed I should be able to add some fill dirt and some of my compost to rebuild the soil. With a cover crop on top for the fall, by spring I hope to have a real back yard again. Whistling I can dream anyway!
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Jun 14, 2015 4:57 PM CST
MaryJane,

I've agonized for days about whether to post this or not, but I must; it's on my mind constantly! I don't want this post to seem negative or discouraging, rather I'd like to help you avoid a tough situation down the road...

We tried weed block fabric here and it was a nightmare. It only takes one short-term, garden-less event to start a chain reaction of trouble. As water flows through your seasonal stream bed it'll bring with it debris, soil and weed seeds; plenty of which will get caught in your rocks. This will provide perfect conditions for those seeds to sprout. If you are unable to weed it out for say, a two or three week period, at the right time of the year, they'll root through the fabric and be next to impossible to easily remove.

I'd recommend removing it before you go any further, or at the very least, don't plant through it. That way, if it ever becomes necessary to dig out half-grown weeds, you'll be able to...without ripping out all of your hard work, possibly losing plants, and having to start over. Moving rock and ripping out small sections of stream bed fabric would be enough to do...if it came to it.

All of these cautions would be moot, I guess, if you use a weed killer product, but if you don't, at some point in time you'll very likely need to be able to dig. Weed block fabric prevents digging.


***

As to plants...

If you have a lot of moss your area is probably cooler and mostly shaded?

Early bloomers that want wet to bloom and drier conditions afterward in order to go dormant or semi-dormant come first to mind, but with clay soil, as long as the light conditions are met, I'd think that many plants would flourish there. Plant a bit higher than usual, and just after the rainy season is over and they should be well-established and able to cope with moving water by the next.

Smiling Just my two cents worth...sharing what I've learned in 20 years worth of seasonal stream bed gardening. (Hmmm...that's a penny per decade! Hilarious! )



Thumb of 2015-06-14/chelle/a04375


Best to you in your endeavors! Thumbs up

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 14, 2015 6:32 PM CST
Regarding the weed block....I have also had previous problems with it. The only reason I was using it here is to keep the stones from becoming embedded in the soil since I don't have large rocks...just smaller river rock. I think I may reconsider this. Pros? Cons? Confused Thanks to all of you for your input. Lovey dubby Chelle, I am glad you decided to post as it is better to change my plan before I go any further...it requires some thinking.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Jun 14, 2015 8:02 PM CST
That was (and still is) my stumbling block, too. I'd love to do mine in stone, but I can't even get a wheelbarrow in there until July because it's too wet. I know I'd have to add rock on a regular basis, as the dug-out areas refill with sediment each year. It's just too hot for me to think about moving rock in during the middle of summer. I've got the area all hemmed-in with plants too, so there's no getting a vehicle down there. Whistling
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 14, 2015 9:29 PM CST
Just for fun, I thought I'd throw this in here. Do you have any culverts in the area or other similar that could be clogged, sloped improperly, neighbors covered with who knows what, ect, that could be causing some of your problems? Also is there anyway the city or home owners association ect will do anything to help with the drainage problem in the area. Especially if it effects several of you.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
Jun 14, 2015 9:37 PM CST
I agree with Chelle about the weedblock (which I believe is misnamed as it doesn't seem to do that!) I can't think of anything that isn't going to require more labor, either. Dig deeper, lay in organic material as per Dave's comment, use more rock, bring in larger rock....

I also agree with whomever commented that it isn't really a rain garden situation. More of a flash flood creek situation. Water irises were one thing I thought of but I don't know how they would do under the pressure of flooding. The ones I've seen grow in marshy pond edges. But I bet there are reeds and maybe sedges that can root deep (taking advantage of any water stored deeper in the soil) and thus grip and avoid being washed away during flood events.

Thanks for the pictures!
Name: MaryJane
Sherwood, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Region: Arkansas Composter Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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maryjane
Jun 15, 2015 7:01 AM CST
I believe Louisiana Irises might do well. They can live in water and seem to survive with little moisture. When I lived in south Louisiana I had the opportunity to visit the farm where they are grown. Smiling
I had a great idea in my dreams last night...since I have an abundance of moss I plan to move it to the bottom of the ditch. That should be a more natural weed block besides keeping the rocks from working their way into the dirt so quickly. Green Grin!

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