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Copyright © Sheryl Williams - Yardfanatic 2016. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ditch Works

There are two things here in Austin that simply amaze me.  This city knows how to move people and water.

Freeways snake everywhere.  You need to go to the store?  A freeway will get you there.  Apparently the state and or city gets lots of highway dollars.

But the thing that impresses me the most is storm water management.  The storm drains yawn open and could swallow a small person. Concrete or limestone lined dry canals are everywhere. Giant depressions that serve as ball fields or parks dot the landscape.  When I first arrived, I was agape at it all.

Then it rained.

This isn't Oregon rain where you stand outside for twenty minutes before you get wet.  This is Texas rain where you don't last two seconds.  Sheets of water pour from the sky and it hurts if it hits you.  The rain bounces off the ground with amazing agility.  Water starts to stream down every inch of ground; down sidewalks, streets, over lawns, down tree trunks, over the gutters.  The canals fill with great rivers of water that rush downstream to somewhere.  It is both exhilarating and frightening at the same time.  Then, as soon as it stops, twenty minutes later everything is dry as a bone.  Like nothing happened.  Amazing.

It is with this deluge in mind that I am working in the yard creating my own storm water system.  Our house is in a neighborhood that sits on a slope.  Water pours over each others lawns and rushes into the street drains.  Only a few homes even have gutters, so all that roof rain gushes into yards and driveways to join the river down stream.

The amazing thing is that the St Augustine grass that everyone has seems to hold everything together.  People here don't use baggers on their lawnmowers, so the thatch builds up and is tightly knit with the rhizomes of the St Augustine.  It seems like the perfect grass for this kind of weather.

Just one problem.  I killed all of mine with Roundup.  Oh dear.

Luckily, my erosion control specialist sister Jeanette and swampland dweller friend Mark have taught me well.  Build ditches.  So I am.

From Austin Yard
On each side of my driveway I am putting in planting beds.  I dig down about eight inches and pile the soil in the middle to form a berm.  The plants will be placed in the berm.  Mulch created with our chipper goes into the ditches.  The idea here is to slow down the flow of water and hold some of it long enough to let it soak into the mulch and berm.  Hopefully this will decrease run off and my watering frequency.

Two days ago we had a doozy of a storm.  It poured for hours.  Of course it was at night so I couldn't observe my ditches to see if they worked.  I worried that all the mulch Ed had chipped for me was ending up in the Colorado river along with the neighbor's small car.  When I went out the next morning, I was happy to see that none of my mulch had moved.  Plus, my ditches held the moisture into the 100 degree heat of the next day.  Woo hoo!

So today I went out at first light and dug some more.  Why should my down slope neighbor get any of MY water?  IT'S MINE.  ALL MINE.

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