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Author Topic: How to dry out a wet wooded lot?  (Read 1036 times)

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Offline eharman

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How to dry out a wet wooded lot?
« on: October 19, 2018, 04:03:54 PM »
Hi all, we purchased a house last year on a partially wooded lot-- an area around say 150' square. After being in it a bunch over the last year (pulling masses of poison ivy and clearing brush, among other things), I've noticed it is very wet. There is a permanently damp, deep layer of leaf litter, and many of the trees show signs of fungus. There are also a bunch of dead trees that are so rotten you can push them over.

We love the woods, and would like to make sure it is healthy. The current plan is to continue clearing brush, get rid of all the dead trees, and possibly remove some of the leaf litter-- though I'm not sure how realistic that is, as it seems like I'd have to do it every year to be effective. The canopy cover is pretty dense, with some sun getting through but not a lot, so I was thinking I'd have an expert come in and tell me which live trees would be best to remove as well to thin it out. The majority of the trees are between 5"-12" diameter, with some outliers on either side.

Is this going to be enough to dry out our woods a bit? Anything else I should be thinking about? It's surrounded by other people's land, also at about the same level, so adding drainage isn't really an option afaik.

Thanks for any help.

Online Southside

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Re: How to dry out a wet wooded lot?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2018, 08:12:38 PM »
Welcome to the Forum

Couple questions.
1) where are you located?
2) what is the soil type in that spot of ground? 
3) what type of trees are in there?
4) any natural springs around or is the water table quite high there?

Really need to look at the entire picture before an educated guess about what may be going on and a possible appropriate response could be. 
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Offline Ianab

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Re: How to dry out a wet wooded lot?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2018, 03:39:21 AM »
Removing dead / dying / unwanted trees and vines is a sensible start, and is going to open up the forest to more light and air, and that tends to dry things out. 

I'd tend to leave the leaf litter to rot naturally, as that's your nutrients and compost for the new growth that is going to start as the canopy is opened up. 

Understanding the dynamics of a particular forest gets complicated. Climate, soil, tree species etc, so there is no One SIze Fits all, especially when you also consider what the owners aims are. Aesthetics / wildlife / timber / conservation are all valid things to manage for, and will have different strategies. 

Maybe start IDing the different species, and deciding which trees are "keepers", usually the best ones (species / form / size). Take out the smaller suppressed trees that are soon going to be smothered and die anyway. 

And some forests are just naturally swampy, just by the nature of the climate / terrain / soil. The trees that grow there are adapted to those conditions. The Bottomless Swamp of Doom surrounded by an impenetrable mess of vines is one of our local natural forest types.  :D
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: How to dry out a wet wooded lot?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2018, 06:44:12 AM »
Is this going to be enough to dry out our woods a bit? Anything else I should be thinking about? It's surrounded by other people's land, also at about the same level, so adding drainage isn't really an option afaik.


Most places allow you to add draining to your lot. If it goes to the neighbor's, it falls under the "common enemy" provisions, which kinda summarize that rain/water is the common enemy to all, and that mitigation is your right, and your neighbor is responsible for their own. Common Enemy Law.
I am FAR from a legal council so check locally for more info.

Of course, being at war with a neighbor isn't fun, so doing things like adding rip-rap to drainage outlets (to slow water down and prevent erosion, etc. is neighborly.

Swales, retention basins, rip-rap, stone, mulch, and study will all help. Water will do what water does, you can just help guide/slow it. Spend time at your site during a hard rain and you will learn a LOT! I spent an entire year of studying my place and have systematically coerced the water to go where I want it. It's a fun process! Best wishes!
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: How to dry out a wet wooded lot?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2018, 09:09:28 PM »
Check the local soil survey to determine what your property's soil type is and what the seasonal average water table is. You might be on a "hydric" soil which may be hard to keep dry all year. The soil survey information will provide you with some valuable information on how to implement the future management of your property.
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: How to dry out a wet wooded lot?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2018, 12:20:26 AM »
Can you add a deep pond?  In my case that helped lower the water table and firm up the high ground by providing drainage for trapped underground water.  Southern clay over sandstone, it does not perc well at all. 

What kind of soil do you have?
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