Our neighbors yard is elevated and they water their yard a lot. The water flows over into our vegetable garden and floods it. I would like to add a barrier. Some ideas have been slim pavers with a plastic sheet, or a tree root guard. I looked at grass barriers but they are only 5-6 inches wide - this will need to be at least 12 inches to go into the soil and be tall enough to stop the water flowing in. What could I use as a good barrier?

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    Instead of stopping the water, maybe a drainage ditch/trench/pipe to guild it around your garden. – Steve Wellens May 5 at 14:33
  • I cannot build a trench as the run-off is higher than the garden. The garden is the lowest part, so I need to stop water getting into the garden – Tchai Quentin May 5 at 16:09
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    Bad Neighbor! Engage in Urban Warfare! – Carl Witthoft May 5 at 18:47
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    Have you considered planting rice? – Mark May 7 at 0:00
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    If the garden is the lowest part...then you have a pond? It must drain somewhere. – Steve Wellens May 7 at 4:17

A quick and easy solution would be to get a 2" x 12" x 10' P.T.board and bury it a few inches into the ground along the fence and screw it into the bottom of the fence. You could extend it as far as you needed along the fence. Get a board rated for ground contact.

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  • 5
    Water ain't gonna put up with that for long. – Carl Witthoft May 5 at 18:47
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    @Kat It will either go to the end of his board and then into his yard or stay in the neighbor's that doing the excessive watering. I don't think there would be problems if it's in the neighbor' yard who's doing the watering. – JACK May 6 at 22:09
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    Don't use pressure treated wood near a garden. It can leach arsenic and/or heavy metals (whatever the treatment is) into the ground that the plants then pick up ... which for vegetable gardens might result in you poisoning yourself – Joe May 7 at 16:56
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    @Joe Pressure treated wood around gardens is not a threat since the ban on CCA, which was the dangerous preservative. The new preservatives pose no threats and are used in garden borders all over. – JACK May 7 at 18:13
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    @JACK They contain copper, usually, and I wouldn't necessarily be 100% confident they don't contain arsenic.Not nearly as bad as it was in the days of CCA, but not 100% safe. finegardening.com/article/… for example. – Joe May 7 at 19:27

You need to be careful how much you impede the natural flow of water off your neighbor's yard. If your property is downhill of your neighbor's, the water flows naturally from his property to yours. You could find yourself in legal jeopardy if you dam up or otherwise prevent that natural flow.

On the other side of the coin, your up-hill neighbor can not, and should not make changes to the topography of his property that would increase the amount of runoff onto your property.

There a legal doctrine involving this kind of thing, but I can't remember what it's called. Here's one reference I found on line.


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    I'd be curious if the neighbor's excessive lawn watering would be considered natural flow. The OP doesn't mention a problem with rain fall. – JACK May 5 at 17:05
  • I don't know. One line of argument would be that if the amount of water put down was less that an abnormal rainfall, then it's not considered an unnatural event. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that if the up-hill homeowner had made changes in his property that increased the amount of runoff, such as by paving or maybe a pool, the that property owner may have to take steps to correct the excessive runoff. The offended property owner would have to engage legal council, a hydrologist, etc to make his case. I don't think it would be very easy. – SteveSh May 5 at 18:00
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    Continuation ... Not worth the effort/cost just for a vegetable garden, IMO. But if it is a mater of someone's basement flooding, that's different story. – SteveSh May 5 at 18:03
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    Natural flow has nothing to do with a watering schedule, but modifications to the natural drainage of the ground. – Programmer66 May 5 at 18:11
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    The neighbor has made an effort to change the watering cycle. The runoff was from a previous owner who watered everyday, twice a day. The new neighbor wasn’t able to adjust it full to stop the runoff, although much less - but still enough to flood the garden and rot any type of plant we want to grow (unless rice.. :)). – Tchai Quentin May 5 at 19:17

So put a drain channel along the edge of the fence - even a trench filled with gravel can help.

Then create some raised beds where you can control the water ie humidity and it can help with pests as well.

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A small trench may not help, but most certainly a full-on dry well with some French Drain buried along the property boundary will do the trick. That's a lot of work, but it is the solution.

Keep in mind that your low veggie garden will get flooded every time there's a serious rainstorm, due to the slope of the land. You might as well find a solution that work regardless of your neighbor's behavior.

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  • Plants that can withstand occasional saturated soil can still be unable to survive a permanent swamp, so the OP will be able to grow a lot more if they can deal with the daily flooding. – Chris H May 6 at 10:49
  • The OP makes no mention of problems with rain fall. It might be just a problem of lousy adjustment of the sprinklers, too much water hitting the fence and falling down.. – JACK May 6 at 13:20
  • @JACK he does state that they over-water, and that there's a slope problem. – Carl Witthoft May 6 at 13:27
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    This is good advice. I would dig a trench deeper than the lowest part of the garden I want to protect, and lay a thin layer of gravel, then a perforated drainage tube wrapped in geo-textile, then fill to ground level with gravel. The low end of the pipe should exit somewhere you don't mind the water going (a storm drain to the street is ideal). – Ben Hull May 8 at 2:54

Mulch. Put a pile of fine wood mulch just inside your fenceline, about 2' wide and 6" high, it will serve as a physical barrier but allow the water to soak in. That way you allow the water to flow onto your property and provide a simple place for storage. If you put a thick layer of mulch on your garden it will soak up the water and release it slowly into your garden, turning a problem into an opportunity.

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  • I can't see this helping enough, unless the top of the mulch is lower than the lowest part of the gap under the fence. Most likely the water will run under the fence, then under the mulch. The mulch can 'wick' some water up from underneath, but not very much. – Ben Hull May 8 at 2:57

You can go high or low, but I'd also think about partnering with your neighbor to solve your problem as a first step. Use of potable water to grow turf grasses is about the most ignorant thing anyone can do with it, but notwithstanding that, no turf grass requires THAT much watering, so you might encourage him to allow it to grow a bit longer, use a mulching mower, and water it less to condition his lawn to adapt to a more reasonable watering schedule.

If the neighbor is an unredeemable ass and completely belligerent, I would move and rent your old home to folks who enjoy midnight suppers and roasting goat in the front yard while listening to overly loud music that doesn't fit with your neighbor's, ahhh, ethic?

Ignoring that and staying put, you could install a French drain (geo-textile lined trench filled with washed gravel surrounding a perforated piece of ABS or PVC piping run to a sump or daylight). If you use a sump and pump solution for the outfall you can route the pump discharge wherever you need.

Typically neither of you are legally permitted to substantially alter any natural drainage paths without some sort of engineered plans and a permit, and most jurisdictions will still hold folks responsible for things like chemical drift from spraying, over application of economic poisons, and over-watering, so maybe check with your county storm-water management or State agricultural office if you can't get the neighbor to cooperate.

Another solution would be to construct either a raised bed, using lightweight concrete (Youtube has some great DIY tutorials on the subject) or you can build hugelkultur beds to better utilize the excess moisture while keeping your garden plants from being overwhelmed with constant wet feet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HinNgUdPkv4

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Try building a small earth mound with a slight depression along the ~20' fence line (seems like there is already a depression). Depending on how much overwatering is occurring it could give the ground enough time to absorb it. Bonus points for finding plants that can handle excessively wet soil and planting them in the earth mound.

Types Of Plants That Tolerate Wet Areas - GardeningKnowHow.com

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I my case, I installed a French drain that leads to a dry well with a sump pump. I pump the water from there to the curb.

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