Back yard drainage

jmdevera(9)February 5, 2012

Our back yard slightly slopes to the center and towards the house. Water collects at the foundation (about 3-4 inches). Obviously I need to do something about it, but I'm not completely sure which route to take.

1. Add top soil and sand over time to build it up.

2. Create a french drain.

3. Pull up the sod in that area and build it up, put new sod down.

4. Regrade entire back yard.

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Justin, it's best if you paste the pictures directly into the message. To do that, explore options for obtaining html code (of the picture) at the photo-hosting site. (They're usually tucked away under a link for "sharing.") When you locate the code, copy and then paste it into your message here. It will show up when you preview the message.

So far, your pictures only show that things look flat. What you need to show is the path that water takes as it travels through your property. If all things were right, water on your property would continue to flow downhill and eventually, off of your property. Where does it seem that it should go? Should water be leaving your property at the front yard? Where is the lowest elevation? Use pictures to show the ENTIRE path. It would be helpful to see where water is coming from. Take pictures from patio looking into back yard, too.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:31AM
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First off you need to figure out where the water is supposed to go.

The first thing we did was re do the gutters on the back part of our house so the down spouts did not empty into the yard but off to the sides where the water was supposed to flow towards the front. We went with much bigger gutters and double down spouts to carry the larger volume of water vs multiple smaller down spouts emptying into the back yard. That one thing made a huge improvement, but in our case did not solve the problem.

So, from looking at the subdivision plans and consulting the City, the water was supposed to flow from the back towards the front. No water is allowed to flow towards any adjoining property.
HOA required detailed plans be submitted and no dirt brought in. To create better drainage, we had to remove dirt.

It looked like the builder never did the final grade work, only the initial building grade work. Our house is 11 years old and we are the second owners.

Our research indicated most of the lots in our subdivision have similar issues. It took a while but we eventually got it figured out and fixed.

We hired an engineer firm to survey and plat the lot. From that we determined the high point in center of the backyard and went from there. We met with the city people again, and lots of various kinds of dirt movers, drainage experts, anyone we thought could help solve the problem of our swamp.

We ended up re grading the grass areas of the back yard, both in the center and along the sides. Which got me new sod, more and bigger flower beds too! (a good thing)

Nearly everyone we talked with about the project wanted to install drains from the back out towards the front with pop ups at the end, which is pretty standard in our area. Only 2 knew how to do it with out drains. Most of them had no idea how to create natural drainage!

Our city has a code that water that enters a drainpipe and travels underground must exit at the street, cored through the curb. (another not so cheap expense)

We absolutely did not want drains installed, french or other wise.
We spend a lot of time outdoors and mosquitoes are a big issue. No matter how well the drains are installed there is always some water left standing and the pop ups always have water standing in them.
Drains also get clogged and crate a mess someone has to go and clean up. (that someone would be me)

We finally found someone who understood our concerns and knew how to create natural drainage! But it took a while.
It was not cheap, but in our case the best solution.

Now we have good natural drainage, & no drainpipes. There is one area out front on one side that could use some tweaking (due to neighbors drain off carried there as well) to work better and quicker, but other than that it is swampy only for a short while after heavy, sustained rains during the cool season.

Before you do anything, research your situation, and find out any code restrictions you may have.
It will save you money and time down the road.
While you are working on that, I think the first thing which isn't all that expensive would be addressing the gutter down spouts. See if you can re direct the water that flows from your roof away from the back yard and foundation and towards the direction the water is supposed to be flowing out.

Good Luck with your project!

Here's photos of just the center portion of the yard which was always swampy before the grade work.

before: summer 2009 when we moved in

during grade work: summer 2010

after: winter 2012

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 10:32AM
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I want to thank you for that example of the proper method of resolving a drainage problem. For years I have ranted about the way french drains and subsurface piping have so often been inappropriately recommended for what are surface drainage problems.

The most important consideration of drainage should be over-land flows. The proper method begins with the creation of an accurate base map of the property just as you did; "We hired an engineer firm to survey and plat the lot." Homeowners might do this for themselves, but it is a lot of work.

With map in hand, you were in a position to understand the the errors of attempting to correct the situation with subsurface facilities, selecting instead the correct regrading. "Nearly everyone we talked with about the project wanted to install drains from the back out towards the front with pop ups at the end, which is pretty standard in our area. Only 2 knew how to do it with out drains. Most of them had no idea how to create natural drainage!"

People with flat lots and drainage problems should read melvalena's post about 14 times!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 6:54AM
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