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Iron bacteria?

Our large sloping garden in south east Cheshire has been getting deposits of thick brown sludge since we moved in 18 months ago, and our research suggests this might be due to iron bacteria in the soil. It comes out at the front of the house mainly onto an area we've gravelled due to the grass being permanently waterlogged, but also on to a sloping bed - the garden at the back and side is much higher.

Around half a mile from where I live, a stream has what looks like the same brown sludge, which leads to suspect it is something common in the soil round here perhaps.

I've attached a photo from our garden,  (the local stream is along a path called the salt line).
We'd really appreciate some advice as to what to do about this please. 


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,973
    When I was a kid in South Yorkshire, lots of streams ran rust coloured. It was a given. It didn’t seem to harm the wildlife or the plants. There were coal mines nearby and someone said that this rusty water was associated with coal seams. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know.

    I would guess that you have a small spring in your garden and the water from the stream is finding its way out there. Annoying and unsightly but I don’t think it’s in any way dangerous.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,636
    No fracking going on around you is there? :#

    We do see a bit of this around here left over from the old mining works. It might just be worth a quick email to the Environment Agency to make sure it isn't coming from somewhere it shouldn't.
    Some people bring joy wherever they go. Others, whenever they go. - Mark Twain.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,973
    Sounds like a sensible idea.🙂
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • floraliesfloralies Haute-Garonne SW FrancePosts: 2,118
    Do any of your neighbours have the same problem? I would have thought that anything "nasty" would have shown up on the searches done by your solicitor at the time of sale.
  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil CorkPosts: 657
    edited January 2020
    If the grass in that spot was permanently waterlogged just replacing the grass with a surface of gravel is not likely to stop it from being waterlogged. Your description of this being a low point in the local topography would match with the suggestion that it is a small spring or to put it another way the water table is reaching the surface where you are getting this water-logging. Had this in my parent's back garden where I wanted to try growing some vegetables and solved the problem by installing drains and planting deeper rooting plants like trees and shrubs to improve the soil structure deeper down and help allow water flow through it better. When digging in the area there was a solid iron pan only about a foot under the soil surface and below that yellow coloured clay that was clearly not supporting healthy soil life due to being so saturated with water. The drains I put in helped the trees and shrubs establish well and I added tonnes of manure around the shrubs to help improve the soil structure. The area is now not waterlogged and the drains don't seem to have water flowing out of them anymore since I suppose the deep roots have improved the natural drainage. Not sure if you have anywhere to channel the water to but if you can then putting in a drain under this problem area should help. Trees are also great for drawing moisture out of the ground and if you have space to plant these it could help. Some like willows and alders are more tolerant to damp soils than others.
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