Drainage Ditches - Open?

Does anyone have an open (not a french drain system) in one of their fields or paddocks? Any photo of what you have?

My back paddock stays under water for the most part. The property drains to this paddock. I do not want to put a french drain system in. I really just don’t think it will be effective. I’m thinking of having The Mister dig a shallow ditch to be lined with gravel that directs the water out of my paddock, or at least holds the water in that ditch. It will be shallow enough that none of the horses will be hurt crossing it. I’m just not completely sure my idea will work… I think it will…

no photo but technically you are describing a swale

Like a trench drain , a swale is a surface water drainage device.


I do, in my sacrifice area. We put it there to divert water away from the pasture and out through my neighbor’s driveway culvert (we did discuss this plan with him first and he had no issues with it). With water in it 9 months out of the year, it’s more like a creek than a drainage ditch. When it rains it fills up and flows like a river.

It’s kind of a rough dig and I was concerned about the horses at first, but they seem to navigate it just fine. They have to cross it to get to the main pasture. They usually step across at the areas that are a little more shallow but they also won’t hesitate to jump it at speed. Eventually I will rent equipment to do a cleaner dig, lay a pipe, and cover it so they have a flat place to cross, but this works for now. They are both sound, strong, and reasonably fit so I don’t worry too much.

No pictures but I will try to remember to take some later.

I have a swale that cuts right down the middle of my property, dividing my side pasture from the back paddock and other pasture. In two sections, I had steel culvert pipes installed for easy cross over, since the side pasture needs vehicle/tractor access (a gate is there) and in the back section, the mound over the pipe is the chute the horses uses between the back and side.

This back one needs help, so we’re going what you’ve got listed above, with the exception of leaving the culvert pipe but burying it deeper. We’ll use geotextile fabric at the leading side of the pipe, covered in dirt and big rock. We’ll also enlarge and deepen that area too, to ensure water goes thru the pipe and not around.

Our farm is made up of hillsides and we needed to control where runoff water went. We have a number of open drainage ditches to guide the water away from buildings. The easiest way I have found to install an open ditch is to use a one bottom plow on a tractor with a 3 point hitch. I have an old Ford 8N which works very well for shallow ditches. It is necessary to do some shovel work after the plow passes to smooth the sides if planning to take a vehicle across the ditch comfortably and you may need to spread the overburden if you want drainage on both sides. This is much easier and faster than digging the whole ditch with a shovel.

I have a long open ditch with poly culverts down in a few places for crossings. There’s no gravel in my ditch, I just seeded it to reduce erosion. But I do worry about the horses breaking legs so I’ve roped off the open parts. The ditch is about 400 feet long with a pit at the end. I then pump the water out of the pit and into the roadside ditch. The has really solved my water problem but I don’t like the look of the roped off ditch and don’t have the courage to remove the rope during the two years since we dug the ditch.

I have had this argument / discussion with my SO. I prefer open ditches, because they are easy to clean out and unclog if you get too much debris, leaves, etc. after a heavy rain. He likes the buried kind. I can understand that under a path or driveway, but my issue is that they WILL eventually get clogged with mud, leaves, etc., and then it’s a royal PITA to clear them.