Path beside house: how to handle drainage?

carinr(7)July 7, 2013

Hi all. Folks over at the Old House Forum suggested I post this question here. I need to replace the walkway along the west side of my house, which as you can see from the pics is a very narrow passage. The current concrete path is breaking up and I am starting to get a little water infiltration in the otherwise-dry basement on that side of the house, right under where the concrete is cracking.

My big question is how to handle drainage for carrying water that runs off my roof overhang or off my neighbor's land out to my back yard. (I will be regrading the back yard and doing some hardscaping at the same time, so an appropriate runoff-handling system can be designed in.)

The fence running parallel to the path is the neighbor's and his property sits higher than mine. While runoff from his side yard hasn't been a huge problem, there inevitably some soil that comes down into this passageway in heavy rains like we've had this summer.

I'm thinking what I need when I put in a new pathway is concrete from the edge of the house sloping away towards some sort of drain system along the outer edge of the path, just my side of the neighbor's fence. What kind of drain setup would be practical to avoid clogging, avoid having standing water for mosquitoes, and have a surface that's easy to walk on and roll a bike or lawnmower over from the front of the house to the back? The path is so narrow between the dining room bumpout and the property line that I want to be sure I have as much walkable width as possible. It's not a high-traffic path, but it is the only passage from the front to the back yard, and it's the only level path that my mom can walk to get to the back yard without having to do steps into and out of the house, so a safe and non-challenging walking surface is important.


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rosiew(8 GA)

carin, hope some of the experts will jump in with good advice. Meanwhile, read some of the info available online about permeable paving.

Here is a link that might be useful: permeable paving

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Without question, you'd be better off to keep the drainage above ground rather than put it in a below-ground pipe providing that you have sufficient fall (min. 1" per 8' of run) between front and back yards. With limited space, the best solution will probably be to have the walk formed in a dished (concave) form. This will allow water to run away from the house and from the lot line and collect into a shallow "trough" of sorts, for transport to the back yard. Having the the walk and drainage be the same device will mean that you never have clogged pipes or drains. You might have some cleaning of debris after a storm, but that should be about it. It also means that you can use the full width of the space for a walk. You could create such a walk of concrete or of pavers.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 7:43PM
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Yardvaark, that makes a ton of sense and I hadn't thought of it. Thank you! I am pretty sure I have the required slope, since the house (and therefore the passageway) is 42' long and there is a difference of almost 3' in how much of the foundation is above ground at the back vs. the front of the house. I will be having the levels surveyed anyway, since the bigger project to follow this is a major adjustment in the level of the back end of my back yard to allow for vehicular access from the alley. Anyway, an open concave walk/trough seems like the lowest-possible-maintenance option. The amount of debris that ends up there is minimal, and I can see how easy it would be to sweep or hose it out as necessary.

Rosiew, I've been reading all about permeable pavers and plan to use them in the back yard. We have municipal regulations now that require increasing the amount of permeable surface whenever hardscaping projects are undertaken, and part of my plan for the back yard is to deal with pooling of water on the current brick and concrete paths. I'm assuming, though, that I would *not* want to use them in the passageway by the house, because I wouldn't want water to filter down to the foundation.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 12:43PM
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carinr, you need to create at least 5" of fall from the front of your house to the back in order for the walk to drain sufficiently. Cross-slope, you might have 2" differential from edge to centerline. Where you pass the bump-out have the water path travel smoothly (like a car passing on the highway), not abruptly. I would avoid permeables along the side path for the reason you state. It's easier for them to settle unevenly, too, as compared to regular, solid pavers.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:11PM
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This all makes sense. Time to bring in the theodolite!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:20PM
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