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Permacultura Aralar
Permacultura Aralar
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Making an access road: earthworks, evolution, problems, tips

Project: Permacultura Aralar

Posted by Victor Barahona over 12 years ago

Evolution of the access road since we made it in summer 2008. Our experience could be useful for you.

It's been about two and a half years we did the driveway from the border to the house, in that time I have been taking pictures to see its evolution, I include several of them. We had some problems and We've learned several things, we could have done things differently but We are satisfied with the outcome. If someone has to do something similar what we hope will serve as a guidance. First of all some pictures of the construction of road, which was held in September 2008 and took about 10 days to run. After the necessary earthworks are deposited a first layer of limestone, as shown below:


Limestone's layer in the road


On the previous layer is deposited a second layer of a stone called ophite, it has a earthy color and is cheaper than the all-one that is often used to make roads of this type. Once this is done the road  is watered because water to soak in and then tamped with it is ready for use. The picture below was taken before the final irrigation and compaction:


Almost finished, with ophite's layer


In our region it rains a lot and ussually it's necessary (or at least recommend) that the road has a layer of stone, in addition to firm the surface allows it to be well drained and not become a quagmire. And We've had the opportunity to see that is necessary. When we made earthworks also made an infiltration trench. This trench is compacted soil, and collects the water reaching the road, some of it infiltrates and the other is driven by it to a collection point. For this system serves the slope has to be reduced, 1:400 in Permaculture is recommended because in that way the water flows at the speed of a person's walk and there is no erosion. In the picture below we can see the ditch and also seen as have been growing weeds. The photo was taken in summer 2009, a year after made the road:


Infiltration trench


One of the problems we've had is of cause of the shape of our site we could not observe the slope indicated above, with the consequent risk of erosion. Six months later we had very heavy rains, in the picture below you can see that the ditch fulfills its function, but we also see that the amount of water flowing is important, in fact, there emerges in the plain, having a upwelling's   point when rains are strong.

Harvesting water in trench

And here is the point where the slope is higher and the water has exceeded the infiltration trench, causing erosion, at this point the width of the road has been cut in half and We can not go with the car, is an unfinished agenda I hope to resolve this winter, but serve to see what could happens.

Road eroded by water


This other picture was taken in summer 2009, also can be seen as some weeds sprout inside the road, despite having about 30 cm thick stone. Nature breaks through, you see...

Weeds sprouting


This was taken in summer 2010, the weeds has grown so much that it's difficult to see the road, but there it is. Several neighbours told us to put  herbicide on the road but We have refused, here we practice permaculture and try to "turn problems into solutions":)

Road fully covered with weeds


Finally this photo was taken in October 2010, and we see the road in the state that wanted to reach: solid and firm, well-drained, with some weed, but still short enough to enter with the car without problems. Is well integrated into the landscape and is easily maintained by trimmer or lawn mower cut, bringing the remains to the compost pile.

The road today

Sany0076 Sany0080 Sany0189 Sany0367 Sany0369 Sany0709 Sany0719 Sany1515 Sany1667

Comments (4)

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Andrew Ramponi
Andrew Ramponi : Thnks Victor. Interesting that you encourage the weeds to grow over the road surface. I am close to putting a road into my property - lengthy delays with permission from local council. I will make sure I document the process as you have over the next few years. It's a woodland and a different climate/soil as well as a steep slope. I wouldn't be inclined to have weeds on the road but I might try it on one section.
Posted over 12 years ago

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Bob Willis
Bob Willis : No so much about the road..... Brush cutters/(s)trimmers vs Scythes - the scythe is a great tool. I am giving up using a tractor/slasher for my mulch for vegetable growing, in favour of a scythe. There is always 'push down' from the tractor wheels, meaning grass does not get cut and is a real problem when I rake up the hay. With the scythe, I can cut a swath 8feet wide (maybe a little wider as I get more practiced), twice that of the slasher without the push down and it's wind-rowed! Yes takes longer to mow, but shorter to rake and the results are well worth the effort. That was my main motivation to get a scythe, but I realised I can use a shorter blade where I would have used a brush cutter. No noise, no fossil fuels, no servicing/maintenance ($'s), no inadvertent killing of ground dwelling animals/birds - easy to keep sharp with the right tools, good exercise, great result! See scytheconnection.com for inspiration! If I can get half as good as Peters' daughters, I'll be happy!
Posted almost 12 years ago

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Victor Barahona
Victor Barahona : Hi, Bob ! Im' sorry, I've seen just now your comment, the system don't notify me about your answer. Perhaps the scythe is the first tool I bought :). At the beginning I was very concerned about hand tools, but here I've a lot of blackberries and they are really difficult to cut them. An I didn't have enought skill. Usually I use a little saw and prunning scissors. Sometimes the brushcutter. But I hope I'll use the scythe and their "segapotoa" (basque name for the watertight whetstone holder. thank you for your comment.
Posted almost 12 years ago

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