Picture: Drain with buried pipe or dry creek bed???

cinnamanJanuary 24, 2006

I have an area of my backyard that collects water after a heavy rain. The water will take 2-3 days to sink in/evaporate.

I was thinking of installing a trench with a buried slotted pipe or an open dry creek bed. This area is slightly lower than the side of the house where I would put the trench or creek bed, but eventually slopes down toward the street when I get to the front yard.

Which would be more effective and less maintenance, trench with pipe or the creek bed? How deep should either be dug?

I wasn't sure how to insert the picture within this message so I had to link to the gallery below.

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nativenut(z7B GA)

You have a great opportunity! Do neither and put in a rain garden! They are deliberately low spots that have water-loving, soggy-toed plants in them. You could grow LOTS of gorgeous flowers and grasses that would LOVE those conditions! google "rain garden" or "bioretention" and revel in your soggy spot! I had one at my old house and two that I am digging at my new one. Kids, frogs and birds just love them.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 7:55PM
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How do you enjoy your backyard rain garden with your kids without having to wear boots because of the water and mud?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 10:03AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Well Cinnaman, you don't say what climate you're in, so I can't predict whether my idea will work: play hockey!

Just kidding. I would tend toward drainage too, given this situation.

But before investing a whole bunch of digging time, it seems to me you need to identify just how annoying this water is. Does this happen once per year? 50 times per year? I'm guessing it's often enough, since you're planning all that digging, but sometimes it is a good idea to take a long hard look at the "do nothing" option, just to be sure you've discarded it for informed reasons. If it isn't flooding your basement, how big a problem do you really have?

Regarding the rain garden option, I suppose it could be done - the question again is one of climate. If you are in fact parched all the rest of the year, the most beautiful bog will probably flounder a little. Plus, just because it's a bog doesn't mean you have to go frolick in in it; it could just be a decorative thing.

I'm also curious as to the source of all this water. It seems to extend outside your property beyond your fence - is it related to road or sidewalk slope? If so, consulting your city to correct that would be step one.

Finally, do I understand correctly that your intended drainage channel is coming forwards toward the camera and past the house, not back past the shed? And if so, is going in the opposite direction, or out under the fence, an option? Where exactly are you going to take all this water? You want to be sure you're not (a) contravening city ordinances about draining into storm sewers or (b) putting the water somewhere where it WILL flood your basement.

So I have no answers but several more questions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 12:30PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

I'd consult a professional about it. You may be able to deal with it by having a drywell put in the area where it ponds to help get rid of the water. Depends on the soil and what's under it. It looks like that's a neighbor's property on the other side of the fence. Is there something happening over there that's causing the water to pond on your property? The neighbor seems to share your pond.

I would also be concerned about running it toward and past the house unless you're sure about what you're doing.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 3:00PM
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I live in Southern New Jersey so the hockey rink is only a part time option. I'd say this happens about 12 times per year, mostly between Oct-March when the grass is dormant and not sucking up the rain. Not that it doesn't happen in the summer, just not as bad or long. I thought about doing nothing, but that would mean not enjoying the yard for about 50 days per year with my 1 year old son. I recently put a 3,000 gallon (elevated) fish pond where you see the mounds of dirt/mud in the picture. No, digging the pond didn't cause the problem. Our backyard, as well as each neighbor's backyard, is at the bottom of a gentle slope in the neighborhood so we get all of the water. It's not a fast run-off situation, but rather a gradual fill up.

Yes, I would dig the trench past the side of the house and exit under the fence into the front lawn. If I look at the area between the houses, it is sloped like it should be with the lowest point exactly between each house but there is the slightest high point between my front and back yards that won't allow the water in the picture to drain to the front lawn and eventually to the street. The front lawn has enough slope to carry the water to the street.

I hand dug my 18'x13'x~4' deep fish pond and I'm not looking forward to digging a 50' trench now. Getting heavy equipment back there would make a mess in the soggy soil.

I can't imagine a rain garden helping the situation much during the fall/winter months when everything is dormant.

I'm open for any suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 5:38PM
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nativenut(z7B GA)

I did and still do enjoy my rain garden without mud and boots. The water is quickly sucked up by the plants and the mulch (shredded woodchips) takes care of the mud. The plants spill over the edge so there is no real room to get in the wet spots. The birds and butterflies flock to the area and the kids watch it all. Because of the plants and the mulch, the area does not stand in water like it did to become muddy. You would actually have to dig very little, only plant and mulch, and let nature take care of the rest. Look up rain gardens they are not messy or difficult!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 6:45PM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

With something that looks so substantial, I'd first consult with appropriate professionals to determine the best way to drain without risking damage to basement/foundation. Assuming it was approved by the professionals, my inclination would be to make it into a streambed - but not with those pesky little round rocks... I'd aim for something that looked like a real stream bed that sometimes runs dry - that would enable you to incorporate the rain garden idea for the bottom of the trench (i.e. plant that part with bog plants...I come from an area where blue-flag irises populate water-filled ditches in late spring/early summer and various rushes later in the year...) and plant the banks with plants that prefer damp but not boggy soil - lots of ferns for instance. If you want rocks, I'd use a few large, flat ones scatteded along the length rather than lots of those roundish, smaller ones. Where I come from, the rocks in streams are larger chunks that have been worn smooth by the water.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 8:52AM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

At one time there was an excellent thread on this forum about rain gardens. It is a very interesting concept. The general idea is not that your plants sit in the existing water, but that you create an environment where water can collect and percolate into the earth. This is an alternative to pumping more unfiltered run off directly into storm drains and rivers. I don't know if this area is a good candidate for a rain garden.

On a related note...I noticed a significant improvement in the drainage of my back yard after a couple applications of Nitron A-35. Between the gutters on my house and the hill behind me my backyard collects a lot of run off. I never had the ponding issue shown in your picture, but it would stay soggy for a good week after a rain.

- Brent

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 9:21AM
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The house foundation won't come into play with a pipe or creek bed. The trench would be at the end of the slope away from the house by about 15 feet.

I'm assuming most plants could be perennials? Can you plant evergreens in a rain garden? I'm in zone 6.

What is Nitron A-35?


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:16AM
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I have studied your picture. First step is to dig an exploratory hole to see if you are dealing with clay or a situation where fine silt has been carried to your low spot over the years compacting into a non draining soil. I suspect the latter. If you find clay then the drainage system you are thinking about probably makes sense.

However, if you find compacted silt then Brent's suggestion of trying Nitron A-35 is an excellent idea. It is an organic wetting agent (surfactant) which I have used for years to get situations such as yours open and draining. Although it is a bit expensive it may do the job for you cheaply in the long run. Whenever I mention A-35 here on the Forums it starts a brew haha as there are a number of wetting agents available and it is also possible to even use baby shampoo. I have experimented with all types of wetting agents and have found the A-35 product to be the safest and best. It is a misunderstood product here on the Forums which can generate all sorts of negative postings. Too bad as it should be more understood and used. Applying it is simple. Put full strength in a hose end sprayer jar, set the dial for 3 tablespoons per gallon and spray the non draining areas (your neighbor's, too) once a month until it is draining. (If it is compacted silt then you should notice a difference in several months.) Then repeat process three times a year to ensure continued drainage. A gallon of A-35 should last you for a long time. Google the name for further information. It can only be purchased on-line.

If you decide to try this route and are applying fertilizer to your lawn, reduce the amount of fertilizer by one half in the treated areas as A-35 encourages fertilizer absorption. I also use a bit of it in my organic foliar sprays for this reason. I should add that it can also be used on clay soils but it may take a year or more before results are noted.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 12:58PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Since it's most a seasonal problem, I'd guess the real issue is the soil is saturated during the winter. The only solution is to find somewhere for it to go and eventually end up in the ocean.

Could you get something like a Bobcat in to do some regrading? It's big enough to do the job, but small enough to not tear everything up. The problem with a stream bed is that it's going to clog up, and the problem will be back.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 1:42PM
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I am going to do kind of the same thing for my sister's backyard but we will also be burying a hose from a sump pump under her house in the dry creekbed, running it through hole pipe and ending in a dry pond. This helps with the same problem: standing water, and a nice way to hide the line from the pump. Her problem is seasonal as well.
Instead of digging it all, I asked her to rent a ditch witch. Not heaving equipment and manageable. I will dig for myself but I have to draw the line somewhere!
Good luck...

Here is a link that might be useful: Ditch Witch Website FYI

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 6:41PM
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I have a part of my yard that backfills with rainwater but
only durin the rainy season(sep-dec)the rest of the year is
dry. I was thinking of a dry river bed project but now
i am wondering if a rain gardern would work. comments?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 10:42AM
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We also have/had a drainage problem after heavy rain. Our back yard slopes to an easement between our house and a neighbors with drains leading out to a neighborhood "catch" basin. We evaluated the path of the water and created a dry stream bed with perforated piping and gravel under it to carry the water down towards the drainage area. this way the rain water doesn't disturb too much of our landscaping. We raised the beds on either side with plants, and filled the area with large and small river stones. it looks great, and works very well. I am new to this forum, so if someone can tell me how to supply pictures I will do so.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 12:10AM
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saypoint(6b CT)

At the top of the forum page is a "search" feature. Many questions, including the posting of photos, can be answered by looking for earlier posts on the topic. Then you can post with specific questions.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 11:20AM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

we used to have flooding in our back yard. What we did was make a raised flower bed, and I mean raised. You would think it would displace the water but it actually sucked it up.It may be that the area is lower then the rest of the yard and thats why the water is settling there.
If your property ends where your fence is you might need to check with zoning. In our township its illegal to make runoff drain onto someone elses property.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 7:58AM
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here is one of the pictures from my dry stream bed.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:38AM
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here is another photo

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:41AM
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Your dry stream bed looks wonderful! That's exactly what I've been looking to do in an area below where all of the water from my neighbors irrigation runs down into my yard.
I have a very soggy area tha I want to move under ground to the other side so I can actually walk in the yard!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 8:22AM
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This is a message for graciesmom284:
Did you do the work yourself or hire someone to do it? If you hired someone, what kind of person? How long and deep is the bed? Would you mind sharing the cost of your project?

Here is my situation: We have a real problem with water runoff from our neighbors yard that floods our house during heavy rainfall. We have had estimators out to install additional french drains, but the dry creek bed is really a more appealing option. We normally don't have quite the rainfall we have had this summer in Oklahoma, but still have flooding issues in heavy rain.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:31PM
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A dry creek bed is easy to build as long as there is a place for the water to go. We routed the downspouts from our front gutters and the overflow from our water feature to drain here. This also catches all of the run off from our meadow. At the bottom of the slope in my garden above the dry creek, we have a rain garden of plants that like full sun and wet feet in winter, yet won't die in our summer. We already had a ditch, so there was very little digging. We used one pallet of river rock that was around $275 last fall. We used permeable landscape fabric underneath to control the weeds. We don't use fabric in flower beds, BTW!

It took 3 of us half a day to do this, but that was with our archaeologist son looking through the stone for arrowheads (which he found). My husband and I didn't mind the slow pace!

This was created in September 2006, so the plant material is new. Sidebar: The wire edging is a temporary detterent to deer to keep them from trampling the new plants. It's working so far since everything is deer resistant

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 9:46PM
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Hi Dave,
I would do a bog garden in this area, it would still look natural, because you have pond nearby. If you used some pond liner for it it would stay that way all year and then you could enjoy all the plant and animal life it would bring to your yard with your son all year. Research how to make a bog garden.



    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 10:33PM
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