Experience with solid bedrock?

Discussion in 'Put Your Questions to the Experts!' started by MN2015, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. MN2015

    MN2015 New Member

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    Does anyone have knowledge or experience designing a system on top of solid bedrock?

    Here is my situation: I have found the perfect piece of land to buy. Great location, great size, great price, etc. The problem is if you go a few feet beneath the topsoil you hit solid basalt. And there is no digging through this to create a dam, or a well, or an anything, without DYNAMITE.

    There is lots of grass growing, and trees, so plants live on the land. But before committing to this land I'd like to hear other more experienced peoples' experiences, thoughts and opinions, on working land that is on top of solid rock. How do-able is this, and would I incur a lot of extra financial expense to make this work (And that is my biggest concern).

    Thanks.
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i can always ramble on about what comes through the
    noodle. some of this may or may not apply to your situation.

    :)

    no direct experience, but my folks built a place out west
    that needed quite a bit of blasting to get the road, water
    service and other utilities in. wasn't cheap. that applies
    to putting in utility poles too (or will this be off-grid?).

    you don't mention if there is a house there or not already?
    is the road in? how does it look (has it been washed out
    and repaired a lot)? etc.

    is it hilly or flat? how much area are you going to plan on
    using right away and what may come along later?

    in the USoA many areas are very regulated about septic
    systems and what is allowable and how well they must
    drain. if you haven't already got a place there this is a
    potential problem. because you can fill it all you want
    but if there isn't anywhere for the flow to go deeper
    eventually it will surface downslope and i consider it rather
    gross to have someone's sewage water showing up. even
    well dilluted it still smells.

    this would also apply to any gray water system IMO.

    is there a well in place already? has it been tested and
    approved for use?

    a few feet of topsoil is plenty for most garden veggies.
    depending upon the quality of what is there. slopes will
    affect how i'd feel about this. a grassy slope is often best
    left alone.

    swales are only going to hold a certain amount of moisture.

    may need to worry about slipping if it gets too soggy.
     
  3. MN2015

    MN2015 New Member

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    Hi, thanks for the reply. :)

    This particular parcel has power at the road so it is not off-grid. There is no house on the land. It is empty, but hilly, with trees, and grass. The total size is 10 acres but I'd mainly develop about 2.5 acres as my Zones 1-3. I do know that most of the other houses in the area have gravity septic systems in place.

    Is that enough information to get a better assessment on my situation? Thinking about it some more it almost seems to me that unless I am prepared to budget plenty of money for demolition and/or to work around the basalt bedrock that perhaps I'd be better off looking elsewhere.
     
  4. Rashad Thornton

    Rashad Thornton New Member

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    I'm currently in the process of buying land in Southern California. Your best bet is to find a parcel that already has those utilities available because the cost of running run electric and water lines is ridiculous. Depending on what county your in they can get pretty greedy with the fees.

    Help my family and I change the world

    https://www.gofundme.com/thorntons-food-forest-for-all
     
  5. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi MN2015, our place is also over basalt ( http://hugefloods.com/Basalt.html ) plus we have the added feature of caliche a few feet down, where the precipitation/evaporation horizon starts. The soil is mainly loess and of high pH, blown in over the aeons from Oregon, then partially washed away by the great floods emanating from Lake Missoula at the end of the last ice age (see the hugefloods website for more).
    This area is in ongoing recovery from the flood event ... we feel that our mission is to help the restoration process, build actual topsoil, and establish tree systems to provide self-mulching, shade, and relief from the winds. So far, it seems to be working.
    Often the lakes within the Columbia Basin are contained by depressions in the basalt (such as Sprague Lake) which provides a non-leaky bowl for the water to collect.
    Ponds/dams where I live are only a dream (so far) as our evaporation far exceeds precipitation over the year and even the little 300 gallon plastic "pond" I have (in the shade/out of the wind) evaporates very fast during the summer's low humidity. We focus on sinking/storing water in the soil and working to ensure that it stays there with mulch/windbreaks/shade. I am lucky to have multiple old buildings here for roof catchment to augment our meager rainfalls (9" - 12" annually).
    Dynamiting basalt would be a tough way to go. I would imagine that, being hilly, your potential property has varying depths to the basalt. Also being hilly, you have the potential for some watershed area and associated "valley" drainages to work with (gabions, dams, etc), but you may have better information.
    What are the neighbors doing? You say there are already trees (pines?). Just a wild guess that you're looking on the west side of Spokane? Cheney/Fishtrap areas come to mind. Are there opportunities to import bio-matter, say from local landscapers, wheat farmers, etc? We have an agreement with several landscapers in Ritzville to dump their yard cuttings here instead of at the dump/transfer station and our biomass is building quickly.
    Composting here is seasonal (mainly late autumn/winter/early spring) due to the dryness/winds/heat, but it does work ... just not on an 18 day composting cycle.
    Does any of this help?
     
  6. MN2015

    MN2015 New Member

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    Indeed the land is near Spokane. From what I have observed the (few) neighbors in the area are not doing much! lol Yes, it mainly pine trees on this lot, though I would not call it a wooded lot.

    And yes, your information does help my decision, thank you.
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    if you have 10 acres to work with you may consider it quite
    suitable. well drilling will go through rock. they may need to
    blast at the bottom to open up enough flow, but otherwise i'd
    consider this normal in many areas. i'm sure a well-driller in
    that area would know what to do, but always worth checking
    with people in the area to see what it may run to put a well in
    if there isn't one already.

    as far as the topsoil is concerned. with 10 acres you may be
    able to find a suitable site where you can adjust the topsoil
    depth to suit as you go. moving a few feet or yards of soil for
    a garden bed may not be a bad thing and if you want a pond
    having a solid bottom may not be a rotten trade-off.

    what is the rainfall/climate like there? 90-110 days is just barely
    enough time to get some crops in here between frosts (others
    do just fine).

    i love living in an area with all four seasons. other people would
    not like it here at all. how well do you know yourself and your
    tolerance for where you might be moving?
     
  8. MN2015

    MN2015 New Member

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    Yes, that seems to be a way to go. :)
     
  9. MN2015

    MN2015 New Member

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    Yes, quite a lot of factors seem to change with the addition of the basalt. I guess it is all about how I want to work with the land. I suppose gardening is fine and adding layers of compost and mulch, and over the years that would become deeper. And like you say a solid bottom for the pond is awesome - although I reckon that would influence the depth of the pond. A big concern would be raising lots of strong trees. I know there are pine trees on the property now, so trees grow there; and roots can bust through cement sidewalks, But would tree roots grow INTO the basalt? Or would they run across the surface of the basalt? Does this even matter? (Matter to the integrity of the tree. And matter to the type of trees I'd want to plant? Probably . . .)
     

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