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How To Fix and Maintain a Drainage Ditch



Let’s define some words first:


-What is a drainage ditch?

A drainage ditch is a stretch of land that is dug lower than the surrounding area to redirect rainwater from a high point to a low point where it can be safely discharged from the property.



-What is a ditch bank?

A ditch bank is the outermost side of a ditch which is normally lined with dirt, rock, concrete, or grass and holds the water in a trough-like shape.


-What is erosion?

Erosion is when water travels over a dirt surface and carries the dirt away with it, making ruts or low areas that cause drainage issues.


-What is an erosion mat?

An erosion mat, or erosion blanket, often consists of hay or straw material that is woven into a plastic or biodegradable material. The mats prevent erosion from freshly graded dirt and are normally placed over grass seed to hold it in place as it starts to grow.


-What is a washout?

A washout, when referring to erosion, is an area that has been damaged from large amounts of water. Example: a gravel road way that has been stripped of gravel due to water running over the top of it.


-What is Rip Rap?

Rip Rap is a rock, approximately 6” in size, that is used to line drainage ways that see large amounts of water. It helps to slow the water down and protect the banks from eroding further.


-What is a culvert?

A culvert is a pipe that is buried underneath a roadway or land and allows water to flow freely underground without backing up or running over the top of a bank.


Why is it important to maintain drainage ditches?


Drainage ditches are installed to collect large amounts of water on your property and can even carry water from adjacent properties. A failed drainage ditch can cause costly damage to your property that include: flooding around your home, washout of roadways, ponding on your property, or even loss of land as the ditch erodes away.


Things to look for to determine if your drainage ditch needs maintenance or repair:


  1. Overgrown plants and shrubs to the point that you cannot see where the water travels or the banks of the ditch.

  2. Bare dirt or areas that appear to have caved into a ditch.

  3. Water flowing out of a drainage ditch and into the surrounding land.

  4. Culverts blocked up with sticks, trees, roots, rock, or dirt.

  5. Roots from trees that are above the surface of the dirt.


Steps to maintaining and repairing a drainage ditch:


  1. The first step to maintain or repair a drainage ditch is to clear the ditch of excess growth. Drainage ditches may be overgrown with trees and may be allowing water to escape the drainage ditch. This process allows the contractor to get a good visual of how the water is traveling through the ditch.

  2. The next step is to repair any washouts or reshape the ditch to keep the water going where it needs to.

  3. While it may not apply to all jobs, a culvert or discharge may need to be constructed or rebuilt to ensure that the ditch can properly discharge the water. This is to ensure that water can efficiently leave the property and not back-up causing more issues in another area.

  4. Once the ditch is cleared and properly sloped, the next step is to prevent future erosion. The best methods for this are to line areas with Rip Rap or install erosion mats with seed. As stated above, the rock will slow the flow of water to protect the bank and grass will help stabilize the bank by creating a root system that holds the dirt together.


With these steps to maintain and repair your drainage ditches you can rest assured that your property will endure the next storm.


Click here to see our pricing for maintaining and fixing drainage ditches.



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