Adapting the "Japanese Growing Ring"
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Author:  scrimblin [ Fri Jun 20, 2003 4:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Adapting the "Japanese Growing Ring"

If anyone is interested the following adaptation to the Japanese growing ring described by Howard has worked very well for me.

My house has a roof with several tall peaks and valleys (15:12 slope), which causes a large amount of water to shed off the roof when it rains. The water tends to drill the soil as it hits the ground, leaving gouged out holes and dirt scattered all over my sidwalk and porches.

The solution was to construct 2/3 of a Japanese growing ring out of builder's stone (the stone used for houses and landscaping) and fill it with compost. The water then runs into the compost where it is dispersed in such a way as to not disturb the ground beneath. I tend to leave the stone visible because I like the look, but plants can also be used to mask the stone. Here's what I did:

I located the area where the water was drilling the soil and marked the center point. Then I took the builder's stone laid it out so that it looked like an amphitheater, with the open end pointing toward the house. I then stacked builder's stone until I had a partial ring that was about 15 inches tall. The diameter of the ring is approximately 30 inches. From the street it looks like a small, curved wall. Then I added the compost, though you might want to put down an inch or two of gravel for better drainage.

The compost breaks down very quickly during rainy periods, so I use a fork and turn it often in addition to adding more material throughout the year. I have never accumulated compost in these areas that would have to be relocated to the garden or yard, but I suppose a large enough ring would hold enough compost to be used as a "compost pile", with enough end product to be moved to other areas. I've even taken to putting larger branches and short limbs in the bottom of the ring, and they break down very quickly, as well.

Author:  Gar [ Fri Jun 20, 2003 5:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

This is interesting what you did to stop the rain from doing the damage. Is there a possibility of see some pictures of your creation? I am having the same problem, even though my roof isn't quite as steep as yours (12/6).

Author:  scrimblin [ Mon Jun 23, 2003 2:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

Gar wrote:
This is interesting what you did to stop the rain from doing the damage. Is there a possibility of see some pictures of your creation? I am having the same problem, even though my roof isn't quite as steep as yours (12/6).

Sorry, no pictures available at this time. If I can borrow a friend's digital I'll take some and post them or email them to you. I don't have a head for design, so I'm sure mine is as simple as it gets: Stacked rocks that form a semi-circle. If design is an important factor, you could build it from any material available, even, as Howard says about compost, just "piling it up on the ground". That's how I started. I was just looking for a way to keep the ground where the water hit from being eroded. So far, I haven't planted anything to cover up the sight of the ring. Because it is stone it has a sturdy look to it, and I don't mind the visuals of the ring.

I should also clarify a bit here. In my original post I used the word "compost", but in reality it was mulch I added to the center of the ring. Without the wall around it the mulch tended to bleed out and become part of the landscape after a few days of rain. With the rock in place the water would still drill a hole in the mulch, but the composting process causes a lot of it to fall back into the center. If there is any problem at all, it is that the mulch breaks down so quickly I need to fill the ring several times a year. This year I did some tree trimming and cut the branches into a size that would fit the ring. I put the hardwood material at the bottom of the pile and added mulch on top of that. I've already noticed the lighter organic matter breaking down and the hardwood sticking up through the pile.

The above may be due to the mulch material I use. I freely admit to being a scavenger, and I frequently scam the bags of yard clippings and raked leaves from the curbs of my neighbors for use in the compost pile. I know leaves aren't the greatest mulch material, but I have found that they are a good insulator in cold weather, break up the force of rain and break down quickly.

Author:  Gar [ Mon Jun 23, 2003 3:57 pm ]
Post subject: 

Be careful when you take the grass clippings from your neighbors. Make sure they don't spray their yard with chemicals. I have learned that chemicals don't always break down iin the composting process. The only grass and leaves I use are from my own yard. Thanks in advance for
future picture posts

Author:  user_48634 [ Mon Jun 23, 2003 4:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think the pile of compost with a miniature retaining wall is a great idea!

The only chemicals you have to worry about are the broadleaf killers, clopyralid and picloram. These are not generally available to consumers, but ChemLawn may use them. Farmers may use them, too. Anyone with a tree filled yard will not use these because they will kill the trees. You be the judge.

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