Saturday, September 10 2011
During the drenching of Tropical Storm Irene and the storms that followed, there was so much surface water that it cascaded down the stone retaining wall just west of the bluestone walkway connecting our parking area to our front door. I'd built that walkway in 2005, setting it on a bed of sand underlain by gravel and drainage tile, and I'd increased the height of that stone wall to accommodate deeper soil in the garden behind it. Most of the fill retained by the wall had been sand I'd trucked in from Fording Place on Esopus Creek. I've been dismayed to see that surface runoff has been washing this sand out from between the rocks in the retaining wall, creating alluvial fans of sand across the walkway. I could collect that sand and put it back above the wall, but, at least in recent weeks, it has become was a Sisyphean task. So today I decided to do something to permanently fix the problem.
I dug a trench between the wall and the fill behind it and then installed a plastic mesh that permits water flow but holds back soil. I still had some left over from the greenhouse foundation drainage project. It's tougher and behaves better than impermeable plastic, which the people who had built the original wall had used (they'd used a very thin kind that is now mostly destroyed). With the fabric in place, I backfilled behind it with cobblestones and then topped-off the fill with finer gravel (salvaged from alluvial fans that had washed off the nearby farm road). This new barrier should be capable of preventing further erosion of the sand, unless (of course) Zeus decides that it's just a bit too clever. I have a number of other stone wall maintenance projects that I need to undertake, though none as pressing as this one.
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