run drainage problems

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cajunlizz, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    I have added sand 3 times during the summer( like 6 yards ) each time to both my runs . everything looks perfect until it rains , then yikes ... Chickens are scratching making holes ( naturally ) when it rains , the holes are full of water and creates oders . It would be a constant thing of being out there to rake them out and level again . I also put 1/2 one run under a large vinyl tarp , but even elevated peak , belly's out in the middle .

    Any suggestions ?
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  2. big greg barker

    big greg barker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 26, 2008
    central maine
    The first thing you need to do is take a real close look at the area around your runs. If you put your coop and runs in a low area where water drains to, you may have to move them. (This is eperience talking here.) Look for the highest ground.
    Is water running in from outside the runs?
    Where can it be drained off to?
    Where is the water coming from?
    You may need gutters to channel the water away.
    If you find it is coming from a high place, and you can drain to a low place, dig a ditch around the run from the high side to the low side.
    These are things a contractor taught me about site preparation. His words were, If you need to, you can dig, but if you're too darn low to start with, you're too darn low, and you'll spend big money on fill."
    Hope this helps, good luck
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    As Greg says, the biggest thing is to prevent so much water from *getting* (and remaining) there in the first place.

    (You can construct 'rafters' or use 2x4 or 4x4 welded wire fencing to support the tarp so it doesn't sag so much, btw. Although, that is not gong to be your most important defense against incoming moisture)

    I don't know what the ground was like when you put sand down, but if it was not BONE dry, then yes, the sand disappears over time. Sand will also merge with mud if the chickens scratch holes down to dirt level, as you are seeing. The only solution is to either a) put in so much sand they don't (or hardly ever) dig that deep, or b) put in something they can't dig through as well underneath the sand. Compacted 3/4-minus gravel doesn't work badly, though certainly there are other options.

    Actually you might even try the following, if you don't want to spend much: in summertime remove the sand (and chickens) to get to bare soil. Break the top layer of soil down into fine dust with a rake, then sprinkle a bag or bags of concrete premix (Quikrete or suchlike) over the area, WEARING EYE AND LUNG PROTECTION!!!, and mix it together with the dirt real well with the rake. Now sculpt it into a crowned shape, so water will run off to the sides and not stand anywhere. Something like 1" every foot or two is not too extreme at all. Then spray gently with a hose to wet it (you may have to repair your crowning a bit), cover with plastic for a day or two, and voila, a rather dig-resistant surface. Put 4+" of sand, and chickens, back in, and you should be good for a reasonable while.

    There are disadvantages of the soil-concrete technique but it is pretty cheap compared to the better fixes.

    For right now, however, you will probably have to put in COARSE organic mulch (coarse bark mulch, coarse tree chippings, whatever) as a band-aid til you can do a lasting fix. Make sure to rake the organic stuff out before it starts to break down into compost/mud.

    Good luck,

  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chicken digging was my biggest surprise! Lord the depths to which they defies the imagination. We roofed our run, and in the late fall when Pat was urging everyone to check drainage, we scraped and cleared and it's working great. Eventually your sand will pay off by keeping the ground looser, and loam so long as it's sloped away from the coop properly. As soon as spring comes look at your run with new eyes! [​IMG]

    (details of ours in link below)
  5. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    Water should drain right through sand with no problem, so it has to be the soil base that you layed the sand on, or as suggested, it is the low spot in your yard, and water collects there. If it's the low spot, then perhaps the move is the only answer. Otherwise you need a drain system.

    You could add a perimeter drain similar to what most homes have, but that will involve quite a bit of work. You would first have to dig a 1' wide trench all around the run, to approx 3 feet deep. (If needed a couple of cross trenches could also be added)

    You should also dig a drain pit, just off to one side of the run. The pit should be dug deeper then the trench, say at least 4-5' deep, and be perhaps 3' X 8' in size. Dig another 1' trench from the drain pit to meet up with the perimeter trench, again about 3' deep. You always want your drain pit deeper then your perimeter trench.

    Then lay your drain pipe (BIG O is the cheapest), in to your perimeter trench, (joining the pieces together as best possible) till you get to the trench leading to the drain pit. Use a T connector to join the ends of the perimeter drain pipe, then add another piece of pipe to the T to run down the trench to the drain pit.

    NOTE. use a level, and as best you can, have the perimeter drain pipe at the far end, (furthest from the drain pit), slightly higher then the ends that lead to the drain pit. You can add a little soil under the pipe to accomplish this. The idea is that all the water that enters the perimeter drain pipe will drain "down to the pit". You want a slope to the pipe, even if it's just a few inches higher over the length of the run. When that is all done, then add drain rock to the trench enough to cover the drain pipe by about a foot. Then lay some landscape cloth strips over the drain rock, and finish filling the trench with some of the soil/sand that you removed when you dug it. Do this all the way to the drain pit. If your worried the chickens may dig down to the depth of the landscape cloth, I suppose bricks, or large rocks placed on it would stop them from ripping it all up.

    The drain pit itself should have drain rock added to fill it to at least three feet, preferably more. Then lay landscape cloth over the drain rock in the pit, and backfill it with soil/sand, so it is level with your yard. (You can then plant grass, or whatever on it)

    The use of the landscape cloth is to prevent silt/sand from filling up the spaces between the drain rock, which would make it useless eventually. It acts as a filter, allowing water to pass, but not the silt.

    As I said it is a lot of work, and some expense. A small backhoe would be a bonus, or you could hire a neighborhood teen, who wants a few extra dollars, to do the digging. Once in place it should allow the water to drain away from the run, and prevent those big puddles.[​IMG]

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