How to build a sluice pathway for your garden

A lock is a wooden channel that is designed to transport water from one area to another by letting gravity do the work. Natural springs or underground streams are excellent sources of water that can often be diverted to a pond area or create a running water feature in your yard. If your elevation degrees work to allow you to pitch your lock downhill, water can be moved free without the aid of pumps for years and years at no cost.

I was lucky enough to have an underground water table that is so high in the ground that my basement has a year-round stream that runs along the base of a wall in a concrete channel. This channel exits the basement through a four-inch tube into daylight about eighty feet from the building. At the point where the pipe meets daylight, the pipe itself is approximately four feet above the ground in a stone retaining wall. The area degrees from that point slopes down and out and usually ends about ten feet below where the land flattens out. The lower property has a small stream that meanders into our eight acre lake. The creek is there all year except in the driest summers. I have seen the creek go dry only once in thirty-five years and that was only for a few weeks or so. Over the years I have designed grassy areas from the house to the lake (approximately 750 feet) that provide beautiful walking areas. A few benches here and there, some shaped yews and potted deer resistant plants and for me it’s heaven in summer just sitting quietly and listening to the summer winds. My children and grandchildren have played here for years and have now begun to add their own touches to the property. One day as I was sitting I looked at the pipe coming out of the basement of the house and thought that it would be a great way to create a freestanding waterfall or a small pond if only I could bring the water up there. The idea of ​​a lock quickly came to fruition after a short conversation with the wife and we went looking for building materials.

I decided to use pressure treated wood for the sluice as it would last many years and after a few years of running water through it, it shouldn’t be harmful to plants or fish. I chose boards that were six inches wide by sixteen feet long, as they were the longest the sawmill had in stock. I set up my sawhorses and started building my lock. I built the bottom using two boards side by side so it was twelve inches wide. Adding a few short twelve inch long pieces to one side as braces provided added strength to prevent sagging. The sides were then made of a board, each of which formed the finished channel twelve inches wide and six inches deep. I used good galvanized screws for mounting as they won’t loosen over time and a bead of silicone caulk at each joint would provide a good temporary seal between the boards.

Over time, as the caulk aged and failed, dirt, leaves, and other debris would seal the joints from the inside, making the gate virtually waterproof against leaks. Starting at the point where the water exited the basement drain pipe, I placed the first gate with one end to capture the water and the other pointing where I wanted to create a small pond and garden area. I found out later that I had to add a baffle plate at the water entry point to channel the water into the gate when the water flows were high enough to shoot past the gate instead of just falling into the gate. . I built a total of three sixteen foot long lock channels and zigzagging up the hillside moved the water nearly forty feet horizontally from where it started. It requires very little slope for the water to run. I was lucky enough to have a six foot high rock outcropping which, by placing the last gate on top of the rock and leaving it hanging several feet in the air, created a six foot high waterfall that drops into a small fish. pond that I built underneath. I put gold fish in this little pond every summer for the kids to feed and watch. Constantly falling water from the gate keeps the water well aerated and cool all summer long. My gate has been in place for about twenty years, and except for an occasional removal of excess leaves and slight realignments, it has performed well without further maintenance.

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