Not sure if this is best in this Forum or the Permaculture Forum...
I have two pathways for 3 raised beds. Both started out lawn grass. The raised beds are on a slope grading away from the house.
One was made last year and was covered with cardboard then about 2" mixture of shredded hardwood and pine bark mulch. Then there was a low spot that kept getting wet so I put a couple of flakes of straw down and, I think, more bark mulch.
The other one was started last fall and spent the winter under cardboard. This spring, I covered the surface with straw, just enough that cardboard doesn't show. This area too gets very wet and puddles after watering the raised beds.
The problem is Path#2 is starting to smell. Something is obviously wrong. All the wetness -- maybe causing anaerobic reaction? Wouldn't that be detrimental to the nutrient levels in the beds? Since it's a low area, I'd like to raise it up a bit so I'm not standing in 1~2" water. But what to add?
The Path#1 doesn't smell -- I'm guessing all the shredded bark -- maybe the pine especially is helping, but after 3 days of rain, it's starting to puddle and get really mushy. I'm going to have to raise the level there too.
I started to wonder if this is the best use of these paths? So much carbon material -- will it affect the nutrient levels in the beds?
The trouble is I can't think of what to do. If I raise the path surfaces, won't that take away from providing better drainage for the raised beds? Also, my neighbors on the other side of the fence has complained that when I water too much, their lawn, which basically forms a trough between their house's grading and ours, ends up with standing water. Aside from the unpleasant surprise of walking through the hidden puddle, the grass there grew so lush there last year that he had to mow extra! (I suspect all the rich goodness from my raised beds were feeding his grass )
So, I need ideas
(1) immediate fix for the Path#2's possibly anaerobic condition (I tried scattering a small handful of dolomite lime in the area and that seemed to help for about a week, but it's starting to smell again after 3 days of rain)
(2) how to keep the paths from puddling and neighbor's yard from flooding when I water the raised bed (when it rains, his rain gutters pour water down there too, but that's not my problem) One obvious fix I'm not willing to tackle is to dig up the raised beds that are butted up against the fence to make any drainage structure underneath.
(3) At the same time, I want to KEEP THE EXTRA WATER
Some ideas I've toyed with -- dig a diverting trench/swale along the house ends of the raised beds? Dig a small pond/swale and direct water to drain in there? If I grow something on the path, won't that help take up the water?