Economical Drainage Ditch Crossing

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Country Lady, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have some acreage on the back side of our property that's all grown up. DH can't get to it with his bushhog due to a drainage ditch he can't get across with the tractor. Actually, here in the south, we call it a branch. It's a wet weather stream. At the present time, it's dry. It's approx. 3' deep and maybe 5' across. We only want a bridge/culvert or whatever that will get the tractor and 4-wheelers across, but not just one time use though. There'll be no need to cross with vehicles. Of course, we don't want to spend a bundle for something that will work, though willing to pay a little and willing to do the work ourselves.
     
  2. oneokie

    oneokie Well-Known Member

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    If the 5' width is the distance from side to side at the widest point, an old truck flat bed would work. Most flat beds for 1 ton trucks are minimum of 8' long.
     

  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If it is dry at times, or low-flow, you can make a crossing - a ramp on each side that you drive down one side & up the other. You can't raise the bottom of the ditch; but you can scoop some out of the bottom & put rock in to make it crossable even if it's wet. Shouldn't be hard to move dirt from 3 foot deep ditch sides.

    Old trailers can be a good framework for a bridge. Might need to spend money on new wood to put in the frame, but makes a nice 8 foot wide bridge frame for cheap.


    Be careful, a dug drainage ditch likely has rules with it - as to how big an openning you need, and permits for bridges? Folks get real mad if you block up water & mess them up... Sometimes it's hard to understand the amount and strength of water that flows seasonally, so don't do something harmful to others.

    For example, placing several small culverts in a row might look good, but they tend to collect debris and plug up. Or don't flow nearly as much water as one bigger culvert.

    Some will make a culvert out of old fuel tanks. Hard to mess with them with the fuel residue, be careful.


    Over time, a person decides to get a bigger tractor; a person decides to harvest firewood or logs; and so forth. If you are building a bridge, might as well make it strong enough. What tractor do you have now, with a brush hog on the back there is a lot of weight on the rear wheels. Someday you get a loader on a tractor, the rear wheels get loaded, the brush hog is on it, you end up with a lot of weight. Haui a pretty rock out of there in the loader, and you put real weight on your bridge. A car would be a light weight thing compared to what you will be crossing with within 10 years.......

    (Dad built 2 bridges over our ditch back in the 60's and 70's - he had 52 hp tractors and a pull type combine, 150 bu wagons. Now I have self propelled combine, 320bu wagons, one year I was looking from afar and the coop dude took his loaded fertilizer truck - 50,000#? - across one. I realize you won't be at that scale, but we _always_ dream bigger once we gain access. Plan ahead as long as you are planning....)

    The crossing will always be there, worst that happens the water is deep and you have to wait a few weeks.

    A bridge always needs maitenernce or replacement or you have to wonder if it got built strong enough. So build it a tad big as long as you are wasting the time.

    Culverts tend to last and are strong if you can put 2 feet of dirt on top, but will wash out if you make them too small.

    --->Paul
     
  4. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

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    To build a bridge is not that expensive. A couple of telephone poles and some thick lumber is all that you really need beside the labor to put it in.
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    A bridge or a culvert, nothing fancy. Old telephone poles with a deck on it. Go to a steel salvage yard and look for an old tank and cut the ends out for a culvert. look for steel I beams and put a deck on it.
     
  6. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ................Depending upon the width I'd dig some 12 inch diameter postholes maybe 5 feet deep , form a simple reinforcing structure out of 3\8 inch rebar and fill with concrete , making sure the tops are level with each other . And as others have said earlier locate the largest telephone poles in your area and anchor them too the cement piers . Now all your left with is to find some thick oak planks too lay across the poles and you're good too go ! , fordy :shrug:
     
  7. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    A dump truck load of rock pit run up to about bowling ball size would be my thing. If the flow gets fast in there fill tractor tires with the rock to hold everything in place.
     
  8. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This might work for us. We have a pipeline crossing our property and they reworked a low lying area where they had lots of concrete mats They were just going to haul them off and we asked them to leave them piled up on the property so we could use them for erosion when needed. There's plenty to put some in this ditch bed and down the ramp and up the other side. DH says he can do this with his tractor. The thing I'm thinking about is, during a heavy rain and lots of water is gushing through, is the flow going to want to take a turn and wash out the ramps or try beating out a new path for the flow. This is just a ditch in the backwoods that probably no one knows about except us and the neighbor that owns the land behind us. Nobody cares what we do to it.
     
  9. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

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    4x4's with 2x4 decking or 2x??? any width..put it together with screws rather than nails and use treated lumber..if you can get old telephone poles it will work better than the 4x4's..

    8' long will give you a foot plus support on each side of the ditch..

    this is my plan for crossing our ditches..
     
  10. silverbackMP

    silverbackMP Well-Known Member

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    I'd just put a couple of pipes in and cover with dirt then 2-3 in rock.
     
  11. Menglish

    Menglish Well-Known Member

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    Why not lay enough railroad ties across it side by side? In fact you could probably get away with just using 2 for each tire.
     
  12. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We thought about this. DH checked on the length of the ties and they are 8'. We went down to the ditch and measured. The 8' would reach across but it would be so close, we're afraid the sides would cave in. Thanks for your thoughts.
     
  13. fixer1958

    fixer1958 None of the Above

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    How much water goes through there worst case.
    My drive goes across a wet weather creek. I have 5-3' whistles and 2-2' whistles all 30'long. I can at times get so much run off it's 2 feet deep over the driveway.
    My point is that if you get ALOT of water through there I would advise tying whatever you decide down somehow.
    I lost a couple of tubes by not doing that. I have since solved that problem and the erosion problem when the water is high, I just can't leave or get back to the house when flood season is here. Usually takes a half a day for it to go down so I can drive across.
     
  14. 7thswan

    7thswan Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is what our neighbor did.
     
  15. RosewoodfarmVA

    RosewoodfarmVA Well-Known Member

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    We have a branch and several small creeks (up to 8' wide bed) on our farm, the problem with any type of pipe or bridge is not the normal flow but the high water. It will either fill up the pipe and then run over, washing out the fill around the pipe, or undermine the bridge. Our solution if we are not using it for vehicles, just tractors and farm work, is to cut down the banks on both sides low enough so that we can drive across. There is always a few inches of water flowing, but tractors and farm equipment can go across up to a foot of water. Around here, all the creek bottoms are rocky as there is rock underlying all the soil, so we have never had a problem with getting stuck. If you have deep soil with no rock you will need to find fill rock to put in so you don't sink in.
     
  16. watcher

    watcher de oppresso liber

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    I agree with rambler, just make a crossing point. Make an entrance and exit then plant some hardy grass or bring in some rock to prevent erosion when there is water flowing. If you want to cross it when its wet bring some creek rock and make a ford.

    Culverts get stopped up and bridges need upkeep so KISS.
     
  17. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    If the crossing is right at the eight foot mark lay two ties just under 10 feet apart on opposite sides of the ditch then lay two sections of guardrail across and spike them down.
     
  18. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We cut down some trees and just laid those across a creek. If you were to put boards over the top of trees, then that might work. Seems like a better idea would be to just make a lower spot in the creek to just cross the creek bed. For keeping human feet dry, then make a little bridge out of tree trunks.