Which direction to direct water?

ghosteeApril 25, 2013


We're going to be doing some work in our yard and are considering doing some minor grading to help better direct runoff from rain. The previous owner had a pool which they removed, surrounded by a concrete walkway. We had the walkway removed, so we now have some spots to fill in, so we'll already be back there moving dirt around.

We don't have much in the way of water problems, usually only the low spot in the yard (where the pool was) seems to retain water. During last week's flash floods here in Illinois, the entire yard turned into a lake, and the runoff seemed to be rushing in from the yard towards the house, into the basement stairwell, and ultimately underneath the door. Part of the problem is that the neighbor behind us has their house some feet higher than ours, and their yard slopes down towards ours.

I know the general rule is to direct water away from the house, and from reading it seems like most people send it to the back of their yard. Does that still make sense to do here, knowing that the neighbors and our runoff would both head to the same point? Or should we direct the water towards and ultimately to the side(s) of the house via grading and either a swale or french drain?

I attached some pictures of the yard, currently in disarray, but it should give an idea of what I'm dealing with.

Any advice would be much appreciated!


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"...it seems like most people send it to the back of their yard." One doesn't arbitrarily select the general direction that water must flow. It must go toward the lower elevation and the path out of your neighborhood. Your yard must be higher than at least one adjacent yard or the street. It's not clear in the photos, but it looks like the neighbor behind you might be lower. If so, then that's the general direction water should flow. Since only one elevation line (708) is shown in the first photo, it can't be determined from that where the lower elevation is. If you can see a wider view and find other elevation lines, that would give you an idea of the neighborhood topography prior to development. It would only give you a general idea, not specifically how it lays today.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:07AM
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