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I live in Chile where the land slopes up into the hills just a few meters from the coast. I have a garage at sea level with the back wall in the ground and there's a little river flowing inside it. I am told it's from leaking sewage tanks above and a normal phenomena. It's like a liter of water per hour - it's significant, not just a wet wall.

Knowing that some plants require a significant amount of water and considering behind the garage is just a lawn, would it be possible to remedy the problem with plants? There's around 10 square meters of space and it's pretty sunny. The roots would need to go 2-3 meters down. Are there plants suitable for this? Which plants evaporate most water? Does it even make sense? :-)

Edit: A bad vertical panorama of the location from above: garage and hill slope

It's not ground water, it's leakage from sewage water tanks on the hills above. Or so I'm told, but it can't be ground water, the levels aren't that high here.

EDIT: Late revelation: It actually IS ground water. The slope was artificially created and apparently they dug a bit too deep. I guess it's time for a pond. :-)

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    Ah, corrugated asbestos roof tiles — ubiquitous in Russia too. Oh, the memories… :) Unless yours are metal or plastic, in which case — way to go Chile! – theUg Aug 24 '13 at 10:32
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If I'm understanding this one properly, you're asking if plants can significantly lower the water table.

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I wouldn't think plants could make a significant difference with volumes of water this large.

I found some stats online:

One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in a day.

But it takes half a lifetime to grow a large tree.

Coast redwood habitat receives less summer rain than in the winter but nearly every day is foggy. According to a 1998 report in the journal Oecologia, redwoods use more than 600 quarts of water each day in the summer and up to 40 percent of it is from the fog.

Read more: http://www.ehow.com/info_10022268_much-water-giant-redwood-tree-need.html#ixzz2ci204jd3

Plants do remove water from the ground, but I think you'd be better served by cutting a deep trench behind the garage and forming a streaming going around your garage, rather than through it.

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  • Very interesting information. It's not ground water though, or at least I believe it isn't. I've added an image to clarify. If a tree can lift up to 100 gallons, multiple smaller plants should be able to lift 10 gallons a day, no? I think that would be sufficient. But the roots would need to go pretty deep, like three meters or more. The climate here is mediterranean with no rain during the summer months and a few very wet month in winter and temperatures always well over the freezing point. Is there anything fast growing with deep roots? – Someone Aug 22 '13 at 15:25
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    Where is the water coming from that is leaking from the tanks? Most roots are near the surface of the ground because roots need oxygen. Some trees do have deep taproots, but those trees are the slower growing varieties (oaks, hickories, etc). Pines have carrot shaped roots and are fast growing (1ft a year or so). Bamboo is the world's fastest growing plant, so I would think if anything could suck water from the ground, bamboo could, but I don't know about 2-3 meters down. – Randy Aug 22 '13 at 16:57
  • A lot of water leaks here; some fresh water, some from the sewers and some from private buried sewage tanks. Since the land slopes up a few hundred meters, that water slowly filters down through the soil and surfaces at the lower laying areas. To be honest, I'm not really sure how deep the roots have to go. It almost looks like the water comes from the upper third of the garage wall, and drier surface soil should cause at least some of the water to diffuse up. Actually the neighbor house is surrounded by Bamboo. I'm wondering if that is related. I think I will try that. :-) Thank you! – Someone Aug 22 '13 at 18:37
  • No trouble :) Report back if you discover anything which solves the problem. I would dig a hole and see if it fills with water. If so, you can make the hole into a trench and direct water around the garage. – Randy Aug 22 '13 at 18:46
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The only thing I think you can do in your situation is install exterior drains to divert water around the structure.

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You may use Eucalyptus spp. for lowering the water table. It can also be used for planting in arable land near marshy areas to dry them up.

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    Be very careful introducing species that are not native. It may not do what you think it will. – kevinsky Aug 14 '14 at 18:56
  • We actually have a lot of eucalyptus here, which was "imported" and has become a common sight. I fear they would become too big for the location though. :/ – Someone Aug 29 '14 at 0:40

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