Taming a spring

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Hi group..

As some of you might remember from my few postings, I used to live in the woods in a super insulated house. And I now live on a busy road in a 100+ year old huge hovel. I do have an acre and a half out back though. And it's got a lot of potential.

There is a spring on the property which was important a hundred years ago and there were spring easements, etc. in the land records. But, now, it's just a nuisance. It keeps a large portion of my and my neighbor's yard soggy.

We did a little trench..but it didn't help much. We can't trench out to the main road. Nor can we hook it into the sewer which services this part of town.

I wouldn't mind having a bit of a pond if this would help. I also wouldn't mind looking into groundwater heat pumps.

I'd like to do something to divert this water the right way. Any ideas?


-- pc (pcha@ludl.tds.net), November 02, 2001


Have the Soil Conservation Services Agent for your county come out and look at the situation. They may have money available which would fund a lot of the cost of a pond. Mine called me earlier this year trying to line up projects for the monies they had for this year. Part of the rational is a pond would be a wildlife enhancement.

Even with a pond you would eventually have the same problem of what to do with overflow water once it filled. Sounds like what you have is what is locally called a seeper spring.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), November 02, 2001.

I do not know if this will help or not but planting things that are known to use excessive water, such as sunflowers might help the soggy yard a bit.

-- mitch hearn (moopups@citlink.net), November 03, 2001.

How about a rice paddy??? ;>)

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), November 03, 2001.

Planting willow trees around the area will really help dry up the ground, there are several varieties available, black, white, as well as the weeping kind. Black doesn't "weep", making it easier to mow under, and it stands up to wind and ice better than weeping willlow, grows into a huge 100 foot tree at maturity.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), November 03, 2001.

Thanks for all the ideas folks!

I'm envisioning a small puddle of a pond with a big willow tree next to it. Can one grow wild rice in Vermont? Hmm. I researched crayfish for this area. Now I will research wild rice! :-)

-- pc (pcha@ludl.tds.net), November 03, 2001.

Why settle for a small puddle? Make a fair-sized water storage, and you've got real possibilities. In Australia, we could get financial help plus earthmoving services from the Soil Conservation Service - look into that suggestion. They'd set up some contour banks to channel surface water into what we'd call an "earth dam" and you appear to call a pond. That's their job, but they also appreciate that water is necessary for life (e.g. a farm), so that another priority is building water storage, and for that they'd make use of any spring water seepage (done it on the family farm - a water suppply that never runs dry). If you've got that, then you've got water for the garden, the septic system, and stock watering troughs - all you need is roof water into a cistern and you're independent of any deep wells. You can let stock drink from the dam, but it's better if you don't - fence the dam (pond) off, and keep grassed waterways running into it, and the water will be fairly clear. This can even give you a source of water for aquaculture - intensive fish farming in sheds - as well as recreational fishing. Warning - in Australia some breeds of crayfish dig holes in dams, and fairly quickly your dam leaks.

-- Don Armstrong (from Australia) (darmst@yahoo.com.au), November 04, 2001.

Another consideration for your pond. Catfish! Actually the willow and pond idea sound good! Darlene

-- Darlene (tomdarsavy@cs.com), November 04, 2001.

Before bringing in county authorities (Soil Conservation Service) into this, I would be very cautious. Would this (or another federal agency) consider this a "wetland", thus preventing working on this area? Please find out before hand; I understand that many farmers, with a "low spot" on their property, find out that federal agencies consider them wetlands and are blocked from taking any action. Water rights are tricky; find out before attempting any action. You can find yourself in problems you may have not considered.

Pond idea sounds really good, just be sure and stock animals keeping mosquito population down. Should definitely enhance property value.

-- j.r. guerra (jrguerra@boultinghousesimpson.com), November 05, 2001.

Thanks j.r.,

I really have a small place now compared to before and compared to lots of you. It's only an acre and a half out back. About 1/3 gentle, south facing hillside, a little less than that where the spring is, and about a third flat ground at the house.

I plan to do a bit of terracing up top and put in fruit trees. There seems to be a bit of a warmer microclimate because of the hill so I'm going to experiment with some things. I think that maybe the middle part, with the spring, will hold a nice, little pond [really little]. Perhaps a weeping willow and a few evergreens that like moisture..planted on the northwest side will help with not only the water, but also some of the prevailing winds. That will leave the ground near the house for a good garden. Handy too.

I've contacted the state extension service for help identifying what turned out to be Japanese knotweed. When I start to do something about the spring, I will probably contact them again. I certainly understand your caution about calling in the big guys over my questions. I live in the land of well intentioned but sometimes wacky environmental laws [VT] and I wouldn't want to open up a can of worms. Nor would I want to do anything harmful. The extension folks are great and their master gardeners are a helpful crew.

When I do something with the area I'll post the adventure.

-- pc (jasper2@iname.com), November 05, 2001.

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