Or, “When Life Gives You Water, Control It.”
We discovered a few possible contributors to our erosion problem which has upset my life entirely for 31 days so far.
#1, landscape sprinklers in general. Our sprinkler system was put in 15 years ago, and had never been thoroughly re-evaluated. Landscaping had changed, we removed a play fort some years back, and the lawn went from bad to excellent, back to bad in recent years. Priority Turf gave us an evaluation, which revealed heavy overwatering that was flowing to the areas of concern. Several heads were replaced, including a few that had no check valves. The flow across the lawn will be significantly reduced.
#2, certain sprinklers in particular. When the sprinkler heads were replaced and adjusted, we ran a 2-minute test of each zone to be sure it was all running well. Heads that were noted in the evaluation as possible culprits, but which were not replaced, were found to be flowing like fountains onto the fence, over the fence, and creating an awful mess. We adjusted the radius of four, which right away drastically improved the irrigation, including reducing the water flow. Another head in the front of our property was supposedly adjusted by another company, but was causing its own set of issues; we adjusted the arc on it to also reduce water flow. We will continue to monitor the system one zone at a time, adjusting ourselves, at least for this summer.
#3, hard soil. We need to aerate more.
#4, the neighbor’s downspouts. About two years ago, our neighbors behind, just up an incline, had siding and gutter work done. They routed the full load of roof water down two downspouts, offing in their side yard, which they don’t have to see or address, of course. One in the front of their house is routed through drain pipe under their landscape bed, to its edge, about 17′ from our fence (yes, the fence is ours). The other is routed through drain pipe above ground, about a foot from the first. Nice.
They know it — they have to know it — and the contractor had to know it, that it is rude and actually illegal. Gushing rainwater flows directly at, and has actually built up along the bottom of, the 18′ length of our fence. Some of it flows to the yard of the other neighbors, just beyond the angle of our far post; they have a garden there. But most of it pools, and then flows, along our property, instead of being properly drained or dispersed so that it absorbs into their soil. I guess as long as it isn’t adversely impacting them, it’s gotta be okay, right? Entitled.
The resulting water flow (massive amounts) is across our yard, 17′ to the sidewalk, where it washed out much of the dirt underneath, and created another 17′ tributary of mush that became our problem.
#5, neighbor’s sprinklers watering dirt. In the area where the neighbor’s downspouts drain, they also have sprinklers! Because, I guess, that area doesn’t get enough water for them. Three heads are along our fence. That water also drains in the same pattern and adds to the soggy mess.
We’ve been pondering solutions for #4 and #5 for a few weeks now. It is clear that we cannot direct the flow. A drainage pipe cannot be run to the street to divert rainwater — it’s against code, regardless of how many people, or contractors, do it. Our best solution is going to be planting things to impede the flow and absorb the water. We’re working on ideas for a bed, maybe a rain garden, etc. We’ve been researching rain gardens, and we know that area will be a mosquitoey mess, but it’s at the far corner of our yard and we don’t go there. It will need to be attractive, because we are on a main ingress/egress street. It will need to be easy to maintain, and I would like it to take care of itself. No woody branches, like shrubs. Soft grasses will work. It’s deeply shaded now (because the neighbor’s trees have overgrown so much), so no irises or the like.
We may have to bite the bullet and call in a designer. Mulhall’s charges $50, I’m told, for design consultation. It would have to happen very soon, though, because planting season starts here in a few weeks. We’d like the planting done before fall rains get too heavy and before snow/melt/ice/melt season. We’re working on it.