Sandy yard/run problem, it's quicksand

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Ferngully, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Ferngully

    Ferngully Songster

    Nov 6, 2008
    N.E. Florida
    I live in Northeast Florida, we have personally had torrential downpours daily for a couple of months now. I know this is just a seasonal fluke and wont be the same next year [​IMG] It never has a chance to dry out. Our property is sand based as is most of the property in this area. Normally drainage is not an issue, however, our water table is so high now that we have standing water everywhere. We are unable to park our cars where we normaly would as they started to sink. Everywhere you walk you sink into mud. I have tried making elevated walkways with concrete block chips and wood siding to the chicken's run and coop to only have it sink after 1 1/2 days of use. I thought maybe adding gravel would help, but as everything sinks it goes right under the muck, sigh. I let everyone out to free range all day so they can get to higher areas (out of the yuck, decay, molding and mildewing of the ground, but isn't necessarily safe either from predators).

    Is their anyway to build this up? Everything sinks into the sand and you are still walking 4 inches or more in mud/muck/water. 1 acre of our property is completely under water and unusable. We have french drains already in place (which our road and water control district frowns on) and have the yard sloping to side ditches where the drains are in place and hidden. It seems adding more dirt to the area just makes a bigger mud pit and is too expensive for us to keep doing (would be great if that was what we were going for and owned 4-wheelers or mud bogging trucks). I would try pouring concrete, but I think it would crack and sink too. [​IMG]

    Any suggestions on how to build their run up and walkway to it?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You can check Pat's page for ideas.

    Muddy Run

    You do have a problem. I'd consider putting confinement around your coop and run, then put a layer of pea gravel, then topping it with sand, actually raising the level of the coop and run above the surrounding area so it will drain. It is probably a dry season fix. The confinement I'm talking about is maybe brick, pavers, cinder block, something permanent that will keep the sand and pea gravel from washing away. Plastic edging might work, depending on how it was supported.
  3. Wow what a shame and how frustrating for you. I agree about containment, and can you roof your run? With such a widespread problem it may be difficult to get a load of sand but if possible, yes, I'd do it. We have sandy soil but we're on a hill and the run is roofed, so when others are struggling our hens are dry. We added platforms too- which might be an option for you!
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't think my webpage on fixing muddy runs is going to help any with such an extreme problem [​IMG]

    First let me offer my sympathies -- I live in a low spot and chronic mudpit but you are clearly in a world worse situation and it sounds just terrible!

    I suppose the most affordable thing, which might be adequate, would be to get a HEAVY grade of geotextile, not just landscape fabric but the real heavy stuff they use under driveways and roads, and try using that under your additional sand, with nothing special underneath it. Sometimes you can get smallish (like, run sized) scraps if you phone around and act pathetic, in which case that type geotextile is not too expensive.

    There are more expensive options (one of which I detailed in a previous version of this post) but I will not run through them unless you really want to know, as on reflection I think they would be overkill for just *chickens* [​IMG]

    In the meantime, any scraps of plywood or other lumber that you might have could be tossed into the run to at least give the chickens something solid to walk on. You might have to reset them periodically if they try to sink, but, it'd be something.

    (e.t.a. - you could also see what happens if you mix some dry portland cement powder into the upper couple inches of soil using a rake, then dampen by spraying with a hose and let it sit for a day. KEEP THE CHICKENS OFF IT til it has set, as cement is caustic when still a dry powder. This will not necessarily make it strong enough for YOU to walk on without squishing in, but will quite possibly be sufficient for the chickens, and should not sink into the ground unduly quickly if you do it in reasonable-sized areas. They won't be real scratchable for the chickens but sometimes compromises are necessary. I've done this on normal dirt in normal climates and it produces a nice firm moderately-durable surface; I am honestly not certain what would happen in your situation, but a sack o' cement is like $5 so it seems worth a try anyhow. Again, keep the chickens out of the stuff til it sets, and wear a dust mask and glasses b/c portland cement dust is no good to get in your lungs or eyes. I think this would be of some real use, however.)

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  5. Ferngully

    Ferngully Songster

    Nov 6, 2008
    N.E. Florida
    Thank you all, for all the suggestions.

    One run is 25x25, 3 are 10x25, another is 25x75. So I have loads to do.

    I feel like the man who built his house on the shifting sands. Our hardpan surface is about 15 to 20 feet down, could be wrong on that number. It is like walking on the wet sand close to the waters edge at the beach when your feet sink down. It wouldn't be so bad but it is yucky because we have been ammending the soil on our 2 acres, adding truckloads of dirt as we can afford.

    We got more rain yesterday, the only storm cell in the area and it was centered right over our house with the worst of it [​IMG]

    I have more coops and runs to build but fear them slowly sinking into the ground from the weight of the wood. Guess I will need to wait until the rainy season is over, oh wait this is the season that we are suppose to not get any rain [​IMG]

    We initially build the others on the highest areas of our property, after reading Pat's page and lots of research, and with the anticipation of the occasional hurricane. Even when we had 4 or 5 hurricanes back to back a few years ago we didn't have this problem, lol.

    I will call around and see what I can find to add to the areas for the chickens and our walkways, as well as our driveway. Getting tired of pushing the motorcycle out of the mud into the lean-to every afternoon with DH.

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