How Much Water Can A Dry Well Handle?
The amount of water a dry well can hold depends on many factors such as the type of soil, the depth of the well, the thickness of your soil layer and even whether or not there are any obstructions in between. Soil types vary from sandy loam to clayey sandstone. Some soils have little organic matter (like silt) while others contain large amounts like peat moss. The deeper you dig into the earth, the less organic matter is present.
For example, if you dug down to a depth of 3 feet and found no organic material whatsoever, then it would seem unlikely that a 5 gallon bucket could ever hold enough water to fill up your 5 gallon bucket. However, if you dug down to a depth of 10 feet and found lots of organic matter, then it’s possible that a 5 gallon bucket might still fit inside.
So what happens when you dig down deeper than 10 feet? You get into the realm of the unknown. For every inch you go, your estimate gets smaller until eventually all that remains is guesswork. However, if you had dug down to a depth of 4 feet and found some organic material, then it might be possible for a 5 gallon bucket to hold enough water to fill up with that same amount of water.
In addition, there are other factors that come into play when determining how much water a dry well can handle. For instance, the type of soil determines how deep you need to dig before reaching the bottom of the ground.
At some point, you have to throw up your hands and say “I don’t know.” This is the same for a dry well. We have a few years of experience in this area, but there’s always that element of the unknown. We can tell you what works in general, and we can give you a general idea.
But ultimately you’re going to have to experiment on your own site and find out what works best on your own property. If you were digging into gravel, you might only need to dig down a few feet before reaching the bottom. It not unlikely that you could dig a hole that’s dozens of feet deep and not reach the bottom.
The same concept is true for digging into hard rock. Depending on the kind of rock you’re digging into, it can be very difficult to dig more than a few feet without encountering a hard surface.
There’s another element of the unknown as well. We have to ask ourselves why you want a dry well in the first place. What are you trying to accomplish? There are easier ways to mitigate problems with wet soil than digging a hole and hoping for the best. If you’re looking to drain water from an excavation, then you should be looking into a French drain system rather than a dry well.
On a recent hunting trip, my son and I decided to camp out at one of our favorite spots. The beautiful lake was surrounded by trees and quite a few squirrels called it home. In fact, we had an entire day of nothing but sitting around and hunting squirrels. We actually got so many that we needed to make three different trips back to the truck just to keep from overloading our packs. Our last trip out was in the middle of the night, and I decided to try something different. Rather than following the beaten path that we had been taking on all of our other trips, I decided to go down to the shoreline at water’s edge. It turned out to be a great idea because not only did we avoid bumping into a few unsuspecting fishermen, but we were able to sneak up on a couple of beavers that were feeding on some trees right by the water. I didn’t have my usual tripod along, so I had to use a couple of rocks to stabilize my camera for the long exposure. We ended up getting quite a few along with the great scenic shots of the lake that we came for.
I’m not normally a big fan of selfies, but I thought this one was pretty interesting. I like the way the beaver looks like it’s coming right at me. It actually startled me when I first saw the picture because I didn’t see it sitting there at all. It’s amazing how well their fur blends in with the mud until they move.
After we took care of our rodent problem, we set up camp and enjoyed the rest of the evening around the campfire. The next morning, we headed back to our vehicle and drove home. All in all, it was a great little trip that we’ll always remember.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Invasive species can handle higher leaf temperature under water stress than Mediterranean natives (O Godoy, JP de Lemos-Filho, F Valladares – … and Experimental Botany, 2011 – Elsevier)
- On a well-balanced high-order finite volume scheme for shallow water equations with topography and dry areas (JM Gallardo, C Parés, M Castro – Journal of Computational Physics, 2007 – Elsevier)
- Water and globular proteins (JA Rupley, E Gratton, G Careri – Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 1983 – cell.com)