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Can planting trees near a waterlogged space help drain this space?

Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Hello! This is my first post and I'm a francophone, so I apologize in advance for the awkwardness of my phrasing.

I'm in the process of designing forest gardens on my land, on which are built a stable and two sand arenas where we can work our horses. In the spring, and when there's heavy rain, these arenas get waterlogged. I was wondering if planting trees around them could help drain them. They are already equipped with pipe drains, but I wouldn't mind setting up a little natural drainage system.

I've looked for the information, but couldn't find anything.

Thank you very much in advance!


Maryse
Jeremey Weeks


Joined: Jan 16, 2013
Posts: 205
Location: Eastern Washington, 8 acres, h. zone 5b
    
    2
You can lower the water table with trees. You can also hold more water in the soil with trees. Is your water table consistently high or are you dealing with soil that drains slowly after a rain?

Here's an article that might help...

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fcin065.pdf/$FILE/fcin065.pdf


Beautiful Nazareth Farms farm site
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R Scott


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 2428
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
    
  28
Of course they can. Willow, Birch, Poplar, Cottonwood--whatever grows in your region along streams and lowland marshy areas. Pick the one that isn't too invasive (cottonwood roots like to burrow through pipes and clog them) and has the best use for you (coppiced for firewood, fed to livestock, etc.).



"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi. "Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4034
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  57
Silver maple and birch are two useful trees that do well in wet ground in Quebec. The maple can take more water logging than the birch. Plum trees can take on damp soil as well. I often see people go for willow as an expedient measure but the wood from these others is much more useful and the trees aren't nearly as invasive. Silver maple and plum can be coppiced. Syrup and fruit are a bonus. Although few Quebecois would tap silver maple when sugar and black maple are so abundant, there are some sugary cultivars available. (Quebec produces about 80% of the world supply of maple syrup.)
Certain trees produce surface roots that could invade the sand. Ironically, Horse Chestnut is a poor choice to use around horses due to the tripping hazard.

Maryse, your English skills are quite adequate and surpass those of many who grew up on just that language.

QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Wow!!! Such knowledge!!! Thank you so much for the link and the info... And especially regarding horse chestnuts as a tripping hazard!

To answer Mr Week's question: water does drain from the arenas after a while, but it would be nice if it could go faster, and why not make this excess water useful for some trees at the same time? As it goes down the drain and into the well, it's wasted.

Of course, my heart goes for maples, and I do so like silver maples. But as I'm considering building raised beds nearby, or it this very location, perhaps plum will be best.

I've read, and read all I could currently take (I daresay not all there is to read) on forest gardens, and I'm ready to start designing. i know I'll make mistakes, but apparently, it's better to try and fail at some things than not try at all!

Best of luck to you all!
D Taylor


Joined: Aug 06, 2012
Posts: 11
    
    1
Negative Nelly here!
I'm afraid I need to disagree. While yes there is a good selection of trees than will survive the wet ground, I don't believe any will dry the soils out sufficiently to notice, when water is pooling.
They don't use water while dormant. So early spring in cold climates like Quebec... No help.
They will clog drain pipes so do consider this for placement, roots will go a long ways to cause trouble.
I would imagine there would be some effect on a good warm or hot day with the sun blaring, but that isn't your spring climate is it?
The root systems may firm up the ground but that is different than removing water.

Anyways I suggest planting lots of trees for shade and oxygen but don't expect them to drain early season or autumn swampy ground.
Wet ground should not be trampled on especially by hooved animals for reasons you've probably already noticed.

Also plums were mentioned, they don't take to wet soils exceptionally well... Especially if wet ground is during growing season. And silver maples and weeping willows are well known for breaking in storms so do consider planting them far from arena fences or barns...

Just my experience.... Didn't work for me.
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Mmmmm... I guess it does make sense. Trees are dormant during spring and fall. It does het cold.

I'll look it up some more, but from what I understand, I can still plant trees in he vicinity, but not for the reason I had intended initially. Well, that is a bit more shade, oxygen, food and beauty are all good reasons to plant, but draining water may not be.

Thanks for the heads up!!
S Bengi


Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Posts: 1029
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
    
    5
Winter rye/wheat and fava beans will actually grow a little in the winter/spring every hour it is above freezing.
I am not too sure if they are cold hardy enough for your location.

Rosemary, thyme and garlic/onions are evergreen at my location. So check and see if any herbs are evergreen for your climate.
Even then dont expect them to grow or use much water.

Have you thought about installing a drain/ditch and sending the water to a pond for wildlife/fish.
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Thank you S Benji!

Winter rye and wheat, as well as Fava beans all thrive perfectly well in our climate, however, rosemary and thyme will freeze to death in the winter... A sad thing, for I love them! I grow them in large pots, and bring them in in the cold season.

As I was considering everybody's comments, I thought exactly the same thing you just proposed. My intentions had been to situate my pond near the buildings, to collect water from rooftops, but maybe I could manage a second one. I'D have to fliter that water though, because it would be muddy, but I will look into that. It is a great idea!

So raised beds, a couple of plum and silver maples, and a pond in the front area. It might just work.

I must say, this forum is great.
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2473
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  74
I agree with D Taylor here that trees are probably not the best solution to the waterlogged ground. Perhaps catching the water with swales before it gets to that spot would help. Hard to tell without seeing the land. Do you have any pictures?

Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas wrote:however, rosemary and thyme will freeze to death in the winter


Hmm, I have seen thyme survive winter very well on the Montreal north shore. what variety do you use?


Permaculture Kingston
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
I've tried a couple of varieties, and never was able to keep them alive during the winter, so I just resorted to bringing them in which I didn't mind anyways! But as I was reading, apparently feeding thyme with too much fertilizer makes it more fragile. I didn't know that! Thanks for taking time to rectify me!

Unfortunately, there's no room for swales... The paddock is just between the house and the neighour's land. In any case, it is situated on a slight elevation. I probably have a picture....
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  15
The different opinions reflect that land can be wet for many different reasons. If you are working your horses, the soil is likely compacted. There may be other factors. Consider where you roof runoff is going. The benefit of trees is that they will improve soil porosity, and thus the potential for drainage. I suspect regular horse traffic would counteract this benefit.


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
I guess this is how it goes withpermaculture. The answer lies in the type of land you have, within its context. It's holistic. Good! I may not be in agriculture, but I am into deciphering the comexity of a landscape.

I wish I had a picture, but we just moved in and its winter now, so it would not do much good with all the snow coverage...

I'm glad and very thankfull for all these answers. They did help me understand all one has to weight before making choices.

As for horse traffic, you must be right. it is one possible reason for water retention. But I can't do anything aout that, so I guess we'll have to endure muddy season!!
Jeff Marchand


Joined: Dec 21, 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Eastern Ontario
    
    1
I too have 5-10 acres of damp, wet land that is challenging to make productive. My plans are to plant Bog Myrtle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrica_gale) in the wettest areas. A local brewery uses it instead of hops to make a organic seasonal beer. Its delicious! There are many excellent micro-breweries in Quebec, maybe you could sell to them ?

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
--- Robert Heinlin---
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2473
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  74
Jeff, you must be talking about Bog Water Beer from Beau's Brewery. It is excellent!

Sweet Gale (Myrica Gale) apparently was used instead of hops to flavour beer.
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
I love that from a single question, so many ideas sprout forth!!!

Planting some Myrica gale could be a wonderful idea, although not in the middle of an arena, but there is a local brewery near where I live. And indeed, we DO have wonderful beer in Qu├ębec!!!

James Graham


Joined: Oct 11, 2012
Posts: 55
Location: Connecticut
    
    3
My father-in-law planted Sweet Gale in areas that were disrupted by the new 35 in Iberville, QC. A part of a field was transformed to a bog by the construction/destruction for the highway. The plants are fragrant and the fruits can be used to an extent for cooking. And as mentioned for a good brew. I believe Brasserie Dunham used to have one brewed from Sweet Gale but has since been discontinued.
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Do you know of the microbrasserie, La Chouape, in Lac St-Jean? Near where I live. It's local from A to Z. Maybe they'd like to try Sweet gale...
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2473
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  74


La Chouape makes really good beer!

I like how this conversation wandered towards beer!

As James said, sweet gale can be used in cooking. Actually, there is a coop in Girardville in the Lac-St-Jean area (http://dorigina.dev.gnetix.com/en/site/index/section/spices) that sells the seeds as a seasoning. I still have some that were given to me and just opened the bottle, it is amazingly fragrant, reminds me of fir.
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  15
Funny... M. gale locally is the dominant in a now uncommon very slightly salty estuary shrub swamp... and while we have great beer, no one has yet used it for beer.

If in fact your arena is more like 'hardscape' perhaps your solution is to use the arena to capture water, regrade the surface to a 2% slope, perhaps use a french drain, and run the water somewhere where you want to use it. In particular, watch out for water that is coming onto your arena from somewhere other than the sky, and divert, infiltrate.
James Graham


Joined: Oct 11, 2012
Posts: 55
Location: Connecticut
    
    3
Adrien Lapointe wrote:

La Chouape makes really good beer!

I like how this conversation wandered towards beer!



I was in Chicoutimi(sp?) last week visiting friends and tried this for the first time. I really liked it!
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2473
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  74
Oh! On top of being a great aromatic water-loving shrub, according to Eric Toensmeier's "All Nitrogen Fixers Are Not Created Equal" article, Myrica gale is also a nitrogen fixing plant.
David Goodman
volunteer

Joined: Dec 14, 2011
Posts: 345
Location: Zone 9a/8b
    
  14
Here in Florida, the all-knowing State planted meleluecas to drink up the water and lower the table. Worked amazingly - just like the kudzu planted to take care of erosion.

The unintended consequences were EPIC!

On a more serious note, I know Mollison had some drainage designs in Permaculture II.

I don't know much about horses, unfortunately, so I can't weigh in too heavily. I would think willows would help, however.


Permaculture, bio-accumulators, rare plants, tool reviews and lots and lots of gardening inspiration - a new post every day: http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Adrien Lapointe wrote:

La Chouape makes really good beer!

I like how this conversation wandered towards beer!

.


Well, alcool is at the foundation of human social life... Archaeologists have produced amazing reasearch on the subject (I am an archaeologist, by the way...)
Maryse Cloutier-Gelinas


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Quebec
    
    1
Wow, I will look into Mollison's work! Thanks !
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2473
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  74
Bill Mollison's Permaculture 1 and Permaculture 2 have been translated into French. I actually ordered Pemaculture 1 a few weeks ago from Amazon.fr. I haven't had time to really look at it since I am currently reading Mark Shepard's fantastic book: Restoration Agriculture.
laura sharpe


Joined: Nov 17, 2012
Posts: 244
    
    2
the unfortunate truth is you do want drainage while the trees are still dormant. Have you considered a french drain for this area?

It might just be easier to raise the soil level in the area you want dry and move the puddles to the area outside ....they do drain just not fast enough.
dj niels


Joined: Feb 16, 2013
Posts: 171
Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
    
    7
Maryse, do you have enough land that you could dig out a pond nearby, and use the dirt to raise your arenas, with ditches to drain the excess water into the pond, which could then be used for aquaculture and/or chinampas (beds built next to or above the pond to increase edge)?
Victor Johanson


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 266
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
    
  10
Bill Mollison asserts that Eucalyptus trees were deployed in Mussolini's successful attempt to drain the Pontine marshes in Italy.


Vic Johanson

"I must Create a System, or be enslaved by another Man's"--William Blake
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2473
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  74
I am not sure eucalyptus would grow well in Quebec. As far as I know the warmest zone we have is on the south shore of Montreal and it is USDA zone 4b. But, I am not a plant expert and I know you can grow things in much colder climates (e.g. citrus in the Alps) than what they usually grow in.
Victor Johanson


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 266
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
    
  10
There are other trees more properly suited to colder climates that function in the same way. I was only observing that yes, planting trees in wet areas is a viable strategy for lowering the water table. I have read elsewhere that tamarix spp. (some of which are rated zone 2 for hardiness) function similarly, although they are regarded as invasive in some places. One of the issues surrounding their invasiveness is that they have this effect. From http://www.discovermoab.com/tamarisk.htm :

"What is the urgency in dealing with tamarisk (why now)?
Unfortunately, tamarisk has displaced native vegetation on approximately 1.6 million acres of land in the Western United States and continues to spread. It is also a phreatophyte (or a plant that mines the water table). Studies have shown that a mature tamarisk can uptake nearly 200 gallons of water a day. Although native trees in wet riparian areas can use more or less the same amount of water, they do not grow in as densely as the tamarisk. Due to this, the West is probably losing from 2- 4.5 million acre-feet of water per year because of tamarisk. This is enough water to supply more than 20 million people with water for one year or to irrigate over 1,000,000 acres of land."
Terri Matthews


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 409
Location: Eastern Kansas
    
    3
Willow trees are NOTED for sucking up water!
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4034
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  57
One thing that I failed to mention earlier. Trees grown on the north side of an open wet spot (in the northern hemisphere) will work better at drying an area than if trees were planted on the south side. Trees on the south side will shade the ground that is to be dried. Trees on the north side can send roots into the wet area while leaving it exposed to the sun.

I have cleared many red alder from the south side of a wet area where hugelkultur beds are in progress. Those to the north remain to shed nitrogen rich leaves and block some wind.
 
 
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