Pros/Cons of drainage ditch options

tifbee(7)April 20, 2010

I have a gutter spout that drains to the right of my drive way which is the side yard that also connect to my neighbors drive way. There is an almost 2 foot drop in slope from the spout to the back of the house. The erosion over the years is remarkable. The previous owners did nothing to aleviate the issue. So I've been doing alot of research and I've decide to either put int a 1 foot trench (acts like a swale) and fill with gravel and rock to help catch water so it can be absorbed, or I will put in a shallow rock garden/swale that will take over a larger area to help channel the water and help with absorption. The trench would be utilized as a path by adding pavers to the top to walk on and would be parallel to a planting bed next to the garage. The rock garden would simply be functional and hopefully someday the plantings will hide most of the rock.

Both options would be located at least 5 feet from the foundation.

Does anyone have any experience in this area that could give some pros and cons of each?

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Some photos and a plan showing the elevations would be helpful. It is not clear whether the run off is being absorbed on-site, or continues to drain off site. What you are talking about doing is creating a sort of french drain to slow down the run-off and percolate it into the ground. If your soils can accomodate the runoff and allow it to percolate into the soil without causing problems, this may be a solution.

One thing to consider is that silts in the soil will infiltrate into gravel over time and clog its ability to drain. The more standard way to create a french drain connected to a downspout is to line the trench with filter fabric first, install several inches of drain rock, set a 4 inch diameter perforated pipe on top also wrapped with a filter fabric sock, and then continue to backfill with crushed drain rock. The filter fabric should wrap and overlap at the top so that no silts/soil may get into the gravel. The top of the trench backfilled with gravel does not necessarily need to come to the surface, and can be topped off with several inches of soil cover and sodded/planted if desired. The length of the trench, and depth of trench, and slope of pipe all need to be calculated to provide sufficient slope to drain, and capacity to handle the amount of run off. If you have heavy clay soils that don't allow much water percolation, the trench depth and length would need to be much larger to handle high rainfall events.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 10:47AM
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stormz4

I do have some experience with the downspout issue. One way to solve the problem is to do as bahia says with one more possible element. Elbow the downspout into the ground conected to a drain tile that channels the water to a popup at the end. This should popup to an open area to disperse the excess water to the lawn area. When done right you sould beable to just mow over it. Is there a way that you could do this?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 11:33PM
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tifbee(7)

I had given that theory some thought but there are a few issues. My house sits at the highest point on the property (which is great), but there is a significant slope on all sides of the property. The left side of the property has a storm water drain that empties into the back yard which I have had to do some major planning to control the category 2 rapids when it rains. On the right side of the property the slope from the house to the back yard is a little more dramatic and the previous home owners had a zero landscaping idea. All the top soil has been washed away and I am left with compacted soil with a few weeds. If I force the water to go towards the street, which has happened in the past, the soil has eroded from the edges of the driveway revealing the bottom of the concrete. So I'm left with one option, to try to control the speed in which the water flows to the back yard. I'm not concerned about having to conceal the drain. I just want to be able to slow the water flow down so it can be absorbed into the ground at the side of the house. I would like to landscape the area to help with this absorption but until I get the water flow under control anything I do will be washed away.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 9:49AM
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