Drainage in the Run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sab, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. sab

    sab Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2010
    Ripley, WV
    So......... my sand is now spongy. Folks said it's a drainage issue and sand is still the best for the run. My run is 500 sq ft. Too big to cover. I agree the sponginess is due to drainage. A dry week does not dry the run out. I'm sick of spongy. I feel sorry for the hens who have to live with it.

    Some of you must have built a coop on land that doesn't drain well. What creative ways have you dealt with it?? I am about to undertake a massive run correction. I'm almost at the point of thinking gravel would be better in bad drainage areas. I'd hate that for the chick's feet. When it's dry, they love dust bathing in that sand.

    And I wonder.... you guys have such good advice.... I wonder if, with about 5 inches of spongy sand down now, can I successfully just dump gravel onto of that sand and then maybe a layer of sand.... so it'd be spongy sand, gavel, good sand. Go ahead and tell me I have to shovel it out - I can take it Just don't wanna..... Looking for easy fix....

    Thanks you guys!
  2. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    I have a 15x15 run, and I got sick of the mud so I covered it and put in 8 inches of sand. Since it is covered, the only water I have to deal with is over-flowing / malfunctioning waterers. I would recommend you add drain pipes underneath the sand. You can buy 4" corrugated black drain pipe, dig trenches and lay the pipe in the trench and cover it up again. Make sure the pipe is lowest where it exits the pen so water will actually flow out of the pen. Also grade the sand so it is higher on one side and lower on the other, so water will naturally flow downhill and not soak in as much.
  3. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Pictures would help. Where's the water coming from? Do you have gutters on the coop? Any slope to work with? Orientation of the coop and run? Just roofing the part of the run by the pop door will give them a nice spot outside.
  4. tdepointe

    tdepointe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2015
    Brooklyn, Connecticut
    I agree pictures and more information would be good but if you do decide to go with drainage pipe be sure to have stone in the trench to cover the pipe to keep it from clogging.
  5. sab

    sab Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2010
    Ripley, WV
    Yes, gutters on the coop - empty on the opposite side of the run into rain barrels. Overflow isn't near the run. I have some 'shelters' - 2 in opposite corners and 1 over the pop door ramp. Those areas are just as wet even with the roofing. I have cameras on my girls - live feeds. You can see the run, although it's dark now so there's not a lot to see. There are some pumpkins that I chopped up laying in the run... you'll wonder what that is. I'll put another camera in the run tomorrow then I will have a live feed from 3 out of 4 corners. I'd be glad to direct the cameras in which ever direction you my want to see. There is a hill to the left of the 2nd camera. I have the camera looking at the fencing which would show the hillside during the day. www.clucksnducks.com

    The land is shallow here - a rock shelf is just below the surface. Water comes off the hill side but it doesn't carry away. We have areas on the property with french drains that carry the water over the hill. So it's a hill, then level land then over into a ravine. The coop is level - off the ground with linoleum flooring with sand as a bedding. Coop is quite dry. Run is quite wet. A sponge!
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'd like to see a pic of the coop and run from far enough away to see the slope of the land.
    How shallow is rock ledge.....2", 12"?
    If you dig down into the sand in the run is there a puddle of standing water?

    I would not put gravel on top of the sand, it'll just migrate down into the sand.
    Sand can help drainage, but it also can hold water(and pulverized poops) and it doesn't provide a habitat for creatures that would decompose the poops.

    Roofing at least part of the run could help...some 'deep bedding' might help too.
    A good mix in size and type of organic matter, leaves, straw, sticks, wood chips, wood shavings, etc. a good 6" thick would absorb the water.

    I started adding such a mix, on top of sandy soil that has become a rock hard mooscape and stinky after rain and snow melt after 2 years with chickens,
    in the last few months a bit at a time as they become available, it had definitely helped.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    First, read this. You might see something in there that will make your life a lot easier. You never know what might spark an idea.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):

    Sand is an excellent drainage material when used right. The main thing is that the water has to have a place to go. Gravity will carry water downhill but not through an impervious layer. A fairly common problem with sand is that someone digs out a hole in clay then fills that with sand. They’ve created a bathtub filled with sand. The water cannot drain out so then they post about how sand doesn’t work. Any tool has to be used right for it to work.

    What it sounds like to me is that the rock is holding the water in. If you can get a French drain or some type of drain pipe installed so the water can flow to a lower level, that’s the way to go as long as you don’t have to blast through bedrock to achieve that.

    If you cannot put in a drain that works, you might get a lot more complicated. Dig a sump pit and put in a pump to empty your bathtub. Yeah, easy said, right.

    When I built my coop I put a swale on the uphill side to divert rainwater plus added a few inches of clay dirt to the coop floor so it was high enough that water cannot get in from outside. Depending on how deep that rock layer is you might want to think about doing something like that. When you first put it in it will be it will be real loose and muddy but maybe after it packs down it will at least fill that part of the bathtub. That may mean the dry season until it works.
  8. sab

    sab Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2010
    Ripley, WV
    Thanks to you all for the responses. You've given me a lot to think on and a lot can't be corrected until spring. But taking into consideration all your comments and pondering my run.... and when the trouble began.... I have concluded that I have made some of this spongy action myself. I have 3 outside small covered areas where the girls can get in out of the snow and weather. Those are meant to be dry and they aren't. I realized my coverings were actually dumping water onto the ground and the water is running back under through the sand into what should be dry areas. So.... I need to re-work my roofing arrangements on these little outside covers. Under each cover, I have an indoor camera - so I need that to be dry to protect the camera. The roofing is that green wavy stuff they sell at Lowes that looks like metal roofing but isn't - some kind of composite material that can bend. Those need to be re-directed to the outside of the run. As is, they are flopped inside the run allowing water to run into the sand. I think my problem isn't as bad as I imagined that you guys got me thinking right. I will fix my shelters after Christmas and top off the sand in the spring. I think all will be well. The ground is clay and for the most part, my run stayed nice until I started adding a corner shelter here and a corner shelter there. Just took some thought to realize this.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by