Need Advice/Input on my plans for a slope between yards

okeyMay 20, 2010

New user here so if i have errored in posting just let me know.

Here is my dilemma, in August of 2008 moved into my house. Backyard was tolerable being that we had other priorities. There are posts from a wooden fence that the previous owner removed but left the fence posts. There are also railroad ties that I can only assume acted as a retaining wall between my yard and my neighbors, there is a gap of about 1ft between my neighbors yard and where the railroad ties are. Last summer we had a pretty heavy rainfall which can happen however the town IÂm living in hired contractors to do some street repair. They left loose asphalt in front of the storm drain so the rain flooded my neighborÂs yard and my yard. A section of the railroad ties gave way to rot which led to soil from his yard ending up in mine; nothing major just ugly to look at.

The wife and I were planning our wedding so yard work was the least of our worries so we put off doing anything until now. I originally started down the road of hiring landscapers to put up a new retaining wall and fence. The two landscapers I spoke with said that a retaining wall would be expensive and beyond my budget so they suggested I grade the slope between my neighborÂs yard and my yard. Both contractors estimated that in order to do this properly it would call for the grading of the slope that would take up 2-3 feet of my yard. My neighbors yard in higher than mine anywhere from 18 inches (front section of backyard) to 30 inches (reach section of backyard). After thinking things through IÂm inclined to do the grading myself and engage the neighbor on the fencing. With the fencing I was thinking of 4 ft fence but because my neighborÂs son has a dog that is jumper they were thinking about getting 6ft fence.

I plan on grading the slope and installing the fence (with neighbors help). The grading will eat up some of my yard so considering IÂll be bringing in new topsoil IÂm not going to plant grass but instead do non-invasive ground covering and/or plants. IÂm assuming there are a few people on here that have faced the same dilemma so I would like some insight/advice on what the recommended grading ratio should be, what ground covering or plants you would use ( I live in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA), what to avoid and what to plan for and etc. I have a few pictures of the backyard as well as captions which are linked below (Yard Pics). If I'm totally off or lacking info let me know.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yard Pics

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I'm far from expert but the problem I see with grading is that it would direct the water towards the house.

First I would contact the city about removing the crap that blocks the drainage ditch. That should have never been left like that and you and your neighbor should have contacted them when it was done. I understand that you had other things on your mind then, but it's not too late to do it now.

I don't know what your final solution should be. I think you'll have to wait until others weigh in

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 4:55AM
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I did the same thing to my yard. The slope, depending how far you want to extend into your yard, is 2:1 minimum That is for every vertical foot you make 2 horizontal feet. If your difference in elevation between yards is 18"(1.5 ft) the slope will stick into your yard 3 ft. This slope is the steepest that you want to make it for erosion and stability reasons. You can make less steep by going 2.5:1 and so on. If you are both paying for the fence put it on the property line. Presumably at the top of the slope. If he is not joining in the cost of the fence, it should go on your property by two inches or so(post footing not into his yard). After the slope vegetation kicks in, you won't even notice a slope that small and it is a great visible planter area for color and good smelling plants. JMHO aloha

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 9:23PM
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What I think really matters is not what happens at the property line, but everything that happens around it. Where does the surrounding land slope? From what you described, it seems like both your property and your back neighbour's drain (at least partially) towards the property line between the two. Does the water drain along the property line towards the storm drain you mentioned?

Given the information that you provided, it doesn't seem that grading out the difference between your two lots is a good idea. This may be different than reality, though.

- Audric

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 10:19PM
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@ oilpainter - regarding draining ditch, the stuff blocking was removed the day after it created flooding of my neighbors yard and mine. What i was trying to communicate was that because of the blocked storm drain the heavy rain we had and subsequent flooding was the final blow to the rotted out retainig wall that's in place.

@ lehua13 - thanks for the ratio. I was thinking 2:1 closest to my house but towards the rear of the backyard i was thinking a steeper slope. Current plan is for the neighbor to kick in on the fence if that holds then I will suggest putting the fence on the top of the slope. Did you do the work yourself and how hard was it? What tools or advice can you give based on your experience?

@ Audric - The only significant slope is between my backyard and my neighbors. There are other areas around his house and that sit slightly higher but not significant. The only time any significant draining from his yard has gone into mine was when we had heavy rainfall and the storm drain that sits closest to his house was blocked by construction materials which forced water into his yard and then into mine.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 6:28PM
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I'll tell you what I would do.
I would save some money up and learn how to make my own small retaining wall from attractive cement pavers that they sell at all garden centers.
The centers have books and classes on how to make the walls.
The wall you need really isn't all that high, the steepest being almost 3 feet at the back of the yard between you and your neighbor.(mite have to have permit for that one).
The cement pavers they sell now are beautiful and look so nice, it might be worth your while to check them out.
They work also if you just need a small wall not a giant one. It's surprising how well they work.(I ahve them).
The flood hazard seems to have been remedied, and you could replace some of those plantings you already have with some beautiful ornamental grasses, which will soak up the water every time it rains.
I wouldn't regrade anything myself.
It's been like that for a very long time, and if you fix what is broken, you should be pleased.
Good luck to you what ever you decide to do.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 12:36AM
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