Arenas...basic question

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:34 pm

Was talking with my grading guy/hay field caretaker and farmer/tractor advisor and general source of great info that has helped us a lot around here. We got to talking about all the projects these Fixer Upper Farm still needs/would be great to have, and arenas came up. He has put in many, and basically told me they are all done slightly differently as every customer has very strong opinions on the "best arena". :D We were talking about what I was thinking for placement of mine. Keep in mind, here we have red clay for soil. The place I want it is also the place he says he'd recommend for best placement. It is relatively flat, but in a place that drains well.

We were talking about how clay makes a good sub base to work off of when worked at the right time of year, and when working in a relatively flat area like mine, the concept of digging down further into the clay to fill back in with base (screenings, ABC gravel, etc) and finally footing (sand, etc) as opposed to removing grass, grading and leveling clay and then building up slightly from there with base and footing...framing off and sort of having a slight step up to get into the arena from the surrounding area. Talked about drainage within the arena but also around the arena in in the two scenarios mentioned.

So, what is the difference if you dig down, have arena flush with ground, but then work the ground surrounding the arena to result in sort of a slope down/away from the arena as opposed to building up for lack of a better term. Does that question even make sense? My head is sort of exploding with all the reading I have done today and trying to follow what he was talking about. :-)

Wicky
Herd Member
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:50 pm

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Wicky » Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:48 pm

I don't know. All I can say is that my BO's outdoor base was laser leveled about 6 or 7 years ago, on clay, and it is now definitely uneven. I do not know why it settled, unless it simply decided to take on the surface of the underlying ground.

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:46 am

Thanks Wicky. So follow up question...when you say "uneven" do you mean like it settled in various places with pot hole-ish low spots scattered about? Or do you mean that a whole section is sloped instead of being flat from some sort of miscalculation?

I also wonder just what is important for the average amateur or pleasure rider's arena as far as the "ideal"...and what is fair to expect as far as an arena"holding up" if you only have average equipment to keep it at its top looks/function? Do all arenas develop low spots just from using a tractor or gator with a wire drag? Do high end facilities or show venues have similar sand arenas but high end ways to keep them up?

I guess I just don't know what is fair to expect of an arena installer and the average life span of an arena....with or without high traffic. I don't want to throw money away by being too easy going but I also wonder if there are variable beyond the installers' control?

User avatar
Chisamba
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Chisamba » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:12 am

It takes about a year for the base to pack with normal wear and tear,. So I suggest pack your base, put in a basic sand layer. Ride. After six months, have it re levelled add your drainage then out in your permanent footing. I prefer a raised arena with landscaping ties to keep the footing from straying
Last edited by Chisamba on Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:03 am

Thanks Chisamba. Re: drainage...is that a mandatory step for an arena that will only be used by a home owner?

User avatar
Chisamba
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Chisamba » Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:03 pm

fergusnc wrote:Thanks Chisamba. Re: drainage...is that a mandatory step for an arena that will only be used by a home owner?


After six months you will know if you need it, but in my opinion it drainage is the most important part of putting in a riding safe work area.

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:51 pm

And by drainage, do you mean some type of French drain system around the perimeter of the arena? Or would you sometimes have to dig up the arena and run something across it?

Wicky
Herd Member
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:50 pm

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Wicky » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:43 pm

One corner is clearly lower than the rest of the arena. But I have to admit that after it was put in, they had to put drains around the perimeter because some of the areas would become swamps after heavy rain. So perhaps that affected the base more than they wanted to admit. So consider that when you are planning your drainage - better to be safe than sorry!

User avatar
Chisamba
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Chisamba » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:00 pm

I like to build up to avoid having took dig drains around the perimeter. So once the base is packed, level it by adding six inches of drainage material. You might ask your guy what is inexpensive in your area, but I have used broken bricks, and 3/4 stone. Then landscaping fabric it lets water through but keeps the rocks down the sand up. Then you place your landscaping timber, Then your fitting of choice.

Again price it out, if it's cheaper to dig D full drains around the perimeter do that.

A farm near me leveled with millings then added footing. No drainage no timbers and their arena held up well, I'm not sure if millings are redoing available in your area.
Last edited by Chisamba on Sun Jun 19, 2016 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Flight
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 1040
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 11:39 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Flight » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:18 am

I still think you might need something between the clay and the surface? Clay does pack and bake down nicely, but if it becomes wet it still can get boggy (I have red clay too) and come come up through your surface. I'm not sure if that's what you meant?

If it's pretty flat, I'd just take off the topsoil/grass, bit of leveling to how you want it to drain, then some base with the same drainage fall as to how you want it, then surface.
I wouldn't see the point in digging any clay out? If you've got a good base then it shouldn't move. Mine's 5 years old now and I have no problems (touch wood!)

When I had mine made, I spoke to a couple of people about who did their arenas, problems etc and decided from that. If it's someone who has made a lot of arenas, they should be pretty good at it. If they're not dressagy though, you may end up with too deep a surface!

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Sun Jun 19, 2016 1:19 pm

Yep, we are looking at getting the clay leveled, then screenings, then sand. I really haven't heard people mention the fabric between the screenings and the sand around here…I wonder if that has to do with area of the country/type of winters and temps and what that might do to the ground?

I had the conversation with him yesterday about numbers…he was saying after leveling and power tamping the clay, putting 4" of screenings and 6" of sand. Said in his experiences, anytime people have asked for less sand they call and have him bring more in a relatively short period of time. I told him I needed to do research on amount of sand…and why dressage folks have different thoughts on "too deep" than some other disciplines. What do you guys think about those numbers? BTW, we are going screenings instead of an ABC gravel as Fergus is very sensitive to stray rocks, and does done on screenings…so worst case scenario, in case any rocks were to move on up.

User avatar
Chisamba
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Chisamba » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:51 pm

The geotextile allows you to put in a lesser depth if sand without the base drainage layer dragging up. Like good drainage, it is worth it, in my opinion.

User avatar
Chisamba
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 10:33 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Chisamba » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:52 pm

Google search geotextile in riding arenas and you will find several articles to help you decide.

Quelah
Herd Member
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:38 am

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Quelah » Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:28 pm

IME with arenas and site pad grading in general (which *is* what you're doing after all) the less you can disturb a solid base to begin with, the better. That's assuming of course that the native base IS solid and is "clean" and IS suitable. If you have decent native clay, the less you can disturb it the better because that which gets fluffed up must be recompacted, which can either take millennia like it did originally, or require the use of heavy equipment, big expensive heavy equipment. My own small arena (85x110) was built on 500 cubic yards of clean fill dirt because I was making the low spot on the property A) not low and B) above grade. I have friends in the trades so we watered and compacted the holy sh!t out of it day after day with the largest vibrating sheeps foot roller available. I think it was a 12 ton roller. It was a beast. Anyway, 9+ years later, the arena hasn't settled in any unfortunate way because it was adequately compacted. It was laser leveled and crowned etc per specs of USDF Underfoot book.

Now what I did NOT have the money or means to do was put in a fancy fine crushed base. So my arena is sand right on top of clay base. That means during winter (when it actually rains here) I have to give the arena a few days to dry out after rain. If we're having a really wet spell (thank you El Nino!) I cover the whole arena with giant sheets of plastic and haul to the neighbor's indoor. Or my friend's built 100% right no expense spared gorgeous arena which is perfect an hour after the rain stops.

Her arena was laser leveled pad. Then road base (1" down to fines rock) put in leveled compacted, THEN geotextile, then fines base, leveled compacted, THEN sand and GGT added. Its huge, it's wonderful, I'm afraid to even ask what it cost LOL

And yes re your question about a step up into the arena, above grade is always better. Water runs downhill ;)

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:49 pm

Thanks guys, this is helping a lot. I am reading all over the place, gathering info from people local to me, and compiling notes. Biggest frustration...nothing is called the same thing depending of where the person who answers you lives, lol! :-)
I asked my grading guy about that and he was very familiar with how people use different terms in different areas, interchange or mix up terms, etc etc etc. I am never sure I am speaking the same language when general terms are thrown out. But, at least now I understand the big categories, the big contrasts, and why they work or don't work the way they do.

Next question....who has left their base to settle for awhile before adding footing, and who did the whole arena all in one chunk of time? My guy says he has always done it all at once with the exception of maybe four or five arenas. Yet I have heard several people comment that they rode on their base (around here, lots of folks use screenings aka bluestone aka stone dust...sometimes over ABC gravel sometimes not)'for 6 months or so before adding sand or even adding more screenings as their final footing. Maybe it also depended on when and where their arenas were installed, maybe in the amount of money they had at a given point in time. My designated area is rock hard, literally, with that compacted Carolina red clay. And our summers tend to be very dry. My guy already told me he won't do the arena past August, and if we wait, it will probably be June. I think he is taking true advantage of that hard clay being hard to give us the best shot at success.

Around here people keeping mentioning c-33 for sand, but my guy likes using mortar sand (no clue if that is the same as what I have seen called construction sand and concrete sand and masonry sand)...he feels like it is easier on the horses as it compacts better when they push off, and is less dusty. Also is a bit less expensive. It's not as bright and clean looking as c-33, so not sure if that is a factor in training and boarding barns.

Canyon
Herd Member
Posts: 484
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:29 pm
Location: CO

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Canyon » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:02 am

Another vote for build up.

My base is gray marine clay. DH leveled it as best he could, then we added washed ¼” minus crushed rock, which is the aggregate base used in asphalt. I went to the gravel pit and looked at the various piles of sand and gravel. I knew I wanted something angular and fairly clean. The guys at the gravel pit told me most people around here use crushed fines for an arena surface, but that pile was mostly fines and would have been very dusty to ride on.

I started with about 2 inches of the ¼” minus and have added a few truckloads over the years as it wears down into the clay. It is much easier to add footing than it is to take it out, if you get it too deep! My guys are barefoot and do well on the footing; my farrier is very happy with how their feet do on it (it is also in their pens).

Maybe ask your advisor for the names of people for whom he’s put in arenas. Talk to them about what they like and what they’d do differently.

User avatar
Flight
Bringing Life to the DDBB
Posts: 1040
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2015 11:39 pm
Location: Australia

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Flight » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:18 am

Mine was done all in one go, well, over a few weeks.
I have road base as my base and it was watered and rolled before the surface went on.
Mine was domed, and is only a 40 x20m and the water runs off quite well.

6 inches is pretty deep. Everyone tends to use a coarse washed river sand here and the ideal is about 7.5cm. I'll go stick a ruler in mine (I had it topped up) later as it's a bit deep now. It is hard work trying to move it off!

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:11 pm

I am going to ask my guy about geotextile fabric...I worry about big rocks migrating up with dragging...but seems like very few people around here use it....and when they asked their ring folks about using it, there was concern about it getting snagged by the drag, pulled up, ripped, etc, and how much of a disaster that would be to correct. The ex petition is new competition arenas around here and folks modeling after them.

If I used geotextile, my thought would be my cement-like clay graded and compacted, then ABC gravel/put gravel type material, then fabric, then screenings/stone dust compacted, then sand.

Looks like I don't have as much space as I'd thought/hoped without (my) concerns for pasture drainage disruption, so may have a smaller arena than I'd wanted. And his original quote was for my dream size, with 6 inches of sand....so assuming the smaller arena with less sand will cut the cost a good bit....and hoping the fabric isn't crazy expensive to eat up all of that savings if the guys thinks I would be ok with dragging.

Anything I need to know about the term geotextile as far as what to use/avoid? I don't know that my guy has ever used it, so don't want him to get something he thinks is what I mean, but have it be the wrong stuff.

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:23 pm

FWIW, answered one of my own questions...geotextile comes in woven and unwoven, and "they" say to go with unwoven for better drainage through the fabric.

I assumed it was a no-brainer that if you had the money, you add the fabric, but this was an interesting write up in case anyone else if also gathering info and making decisions right now...
http://www.cardigansand.co.uk/pages/geo ... nd-against

khall
500 post plus club
Posts: 941
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 1:47 am

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby khall » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:43 pm

We put in our arena several years ago, the contractor is used to doing roads so that is how he approached my arena. We did have to do a bit of grading where we put it, basically had to level the area and move a good bit of dirt around. We have red clay here, it is the sub base and was compacted using heavy rollers. Crush and run was then put down, 5-6 " I believe and again compacted heavily. We then put sand on it but I hated the sand, shifty and too deep (had 4" ) ended up scraping off all the sand and putting in stone dust for footing. I have at least 6" of stone dust, it packs well easy to drag just needs a good bit of water on it. The arena has a 2 % grade which I think is a bit too much, would have preferred 1.5 % end to end and a bit of a turtle top. It holds up extremely well even with the wettest of weather and a clinic going on.

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Mon Jul 04, 2016 2:02 pm

Thanks everyone for all the info! I developed a plan with "my guy"...I really don't know what to call him, as he started out here for grading work and it has morphed into him being my go-to guy for several projects as well as a wonderful resource for who to call about what not, and who to avoid. :-) Was just about ready to embrace to sticker shock of the arena and tell him I'm ready to get started, and then went down to feed this morning. The water issue in The Little Red Barn reared its ugly head over night during an strong, short storm, and I realized that as much as I hate to wait an entire year to do the arena (for best conditions around here), I really need to get TLRB water resistant enough that poor Dallas doesn't have to go into a soggy stall to eat his oatmeal. :-( Not enough time for "my guy" to get the drainage plan in place (we were hoping what we had already done might save us from more expensive drains and such) as well as do the arena, I don't think. Plus not sure I could take so many big projects down by the barn in such a short period of time. :-)
The good news is that the arena really wasn't on my radar for the near future, but "my guy" happened to mention it was the perfect time of year for doing it....or waiting another 10+ months...whenever I asked him basic questions. That got me excited, and also riding Fergus in an uneven, rock hard field, even at the walk, made me a little concerned when he had a pretty big trip....leftover EPM stuff re proprioception IMHO and when he is at all distracted, as well as so out of shape, unreliable footing makes it harder. Plus the thought of getting on Dallas without some soft sand and a fence made me excited about the arena plan, lol.
So I will be glad that I have my plan for when the time is right, I will keep picking away at the laundry list at the fixer upper farm, and I will just use the extra non-arena time to keep working on other things with the boys.

Quelah
Herd Member
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:38 am

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Quelah » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:24 pm

Not sure if this was made clear somewhere in the thread, but it's really important for the true base, the DIRT, to be graded/leveled/compacted. Then the rock (if you use) gets same treatment, then the finer rock same, then sand. I thought I'd seen upthread something about using the gravel layer to level out/fix grade on dirt layer (true base). If you're trying to build to the gold standard, don't to that. A house, an arena, an interstate highway, only as good as the base it's built on ;)

fergusnc
500 post plus club
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:37 pm
Location: NC

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby fergusnc » Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:28 am

Thanks Quelah. Yep, that is the plan. Grade, laser level...for all the layers that respond to that type thing...starting with the native dirt.

Tarlo Farm
500 post plus club
Posts: 677
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:20 pm
Location: NW Michigan

Re: Arenas...basic question

Postby Tarlo Farm » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:02 pm

Yes absolutely to Q's comments. I'm another who did my arena all in one swoop: topsoil off, sand to level, dry clay compacted to 6", limestone fines compacted to 4", topped with a clean local sand to 4" (probably deeper than we needed, I scraped some off)

You absolutely are building a road/parking lot/highway base. If you have any friends in that business, ask they about base-work before asphalt/cement goes in.


Return to “Facilities & Transportation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest