drainage in garden bed near house

lemmie(z10 Bay Area, CA)July 25, 2011

I'm a total newbie to owning property and gardening. Sorry if this is a silly question.

There is brick-edged bed built about 2'-3' away from the house's foundation. The level of soil on the house side is slightly lower than on the outside of the bed.

Here's a pic:

I'm worried that rain and moisture gets trapped in the bed near the foundation rather than draining away from the house. There's a sump pump in the basement, so water has been a problem for past owners. Is this a real problem or am I being paranoid?

Should I remove the brick edging? If so, how would I go about removing the mortared brick? I would ultimately like to get rid of the grass and plant more edibles, though I know its a long ways away.

Thanks to anyone and everyone with advice!

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

More likely the drainage problem is due to Downspouts emptying too close to the house and/or general subsurface water all around the house, not just at this one side. You may need to add an extensive system of French drains as well as add gutters and Downspouts that take water well away from the house. I'd start with looking at water coming off the roof first.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 6:16PM
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Are the rafters in basement stained from water? The plants they have along the house are not big water users so they got that right. You can't see where that drain ends at the right of the pic. I should end out past the bush by adding an extension, there are different types, flexible & rigid. If you ever do dig up that area slant the dirt out away from house (highest by foundation going lower as go into yard, better for plants too as they shouldn't sit in water.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 1:15AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If those are wooden shingles on the lower wall, be careful how you raise the soil at the foundation. Although the soil level should be highest at the house and then slope down away from the house, you don't want any wooden parts of the house to come into contact with the soil.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 2:05AM
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lemmie(z10 Bay Area, CA)

Thanks for all the feedback!

bahia and sunny, I looked at all the downspouts and they all seem to feed into extensions that take the water out of the bricked in area and dump it into the grass. I don't see any stained rafters in the basement either, so perhaps everything is sound.

missing, you brought up a good point about the shingles. I'll be sure to follow your advice. The tree to the far right is a bigleaf maple and all the leaf litter gets trapped between the house and those succulents and piles up a couple feet high if I don't keep on it. In between the leaf fall and the rain, its gets to be another moisture problem.

I'm leaning heavily towards taking it all out!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 3:20AM
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rosiew(8 GA)

lemmie, a couple of thoughts: the bed is kind up skimpy. To take out the mortared brick use a hammer and chisel on the mortar joint.

Would suggest you just toss the leaves onto the grass and mulch mow them. Smother the grass, perhaps making that bed at least 5' deep. The succulents are really attractive. You could move them forward and plant other things in the newly expanded bed.

Let us know what you decide to do, k?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 8:08AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Do you report it? This one's interesting in that the spammer registered the same day this thread was created although I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 4:31PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Speaking for myself, like everything else in landscaping, it depends :-)

On how much they post, on how much time and energy I have, on what they post...

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Your drainage issue is very typical of many I have seen.
Over time yards seem to get higher due to organics decomposing, leaves, grass clippings, etc. What I see increasing your problem is the tree at the front. Roots are expanding the soil and causing a dam between the house and tree.
I see 2 ways to get the water out. Remove the grass and soil outside the flower bed enough to let the water drain to the street. International Building Code calls for 6" in 10 feet slope away from the house, and 6" of foundation exposure. This would mean you would have to cut some tree roots. Check with an arborist as to weather it would hurt the tree. You may have to go around it.
The second way is to install a french drain which I do not particularly like as they must be cleaned out or re done over time.
This may seem extreme but what is really extreme is the 10's of thousands of dollars it can cost to repair a failed foundation and rot to wooden frame work.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 6:41AM
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