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England's Woods & Forests
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Mounds. Ditches and Hollows

Mounds and ditches surprisingly attract all kinds of play activity, whether they have water running in them or not.

How to build

  • Existing forest ditches are often already available or could be incorporated into an area of ground with interesting topography.
  • New mounds and ditches are easily constructed by a local digger driver, especially if uncontaminated soil is being generated from another job on site.
  • Only do this work in good weather otherwise soil loses its structure and will struggle to support grass growth. 
  • Create slopes on mounds or ditches that are ideally no greater than 1:3 with tapered base and top and draining to the ground surrounding. Lightly consolidate soil in layers of 150 mm (this means don’t let the machine operator heavily compact the mound). If subsoil is being used to create a mound ensure the final 150 mm layer is good topsoil, graded and gently consolidated to allow for seeding. Ensure any large material is buried at the bottom and covered with a membrane before placing soil to prevent it reappearing through the top soil. Remove any stone, sharp or large material from the soil layers that is likely to work its way to the surface and cause a hazard.
  • Creating mounds is preferable on contaminated ground or shallow soils.
  • If in creating mounds and ditches a muddy or wet area is created inadvertently it could be retained as it will become something valued by children.


CDM regulations might apply. When using machinery to build mounds and ditches, check with a civil engineer.

Last updated: 8th March 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.