Back Yard Drainage Issues

vtecMarch 3, 2008

I'm hoping to get some advice here. Searching around it looks like a French Drain is what I should do but my back yard sits very low compared to my neighbors (notice the slope by the white fence)and I don't know where I would drain it. How about a trench drain? Could I dig out where the water collects and follow some instructions for a French Drain minus the pipe? Would I get some relief? Thanks

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Looks like a new development. There should be a development plan for where runoff should go. A french drain is of no use if you have no where for the water to flow. It does not look like the landscaper graded your properly very well at all. In any case, that is a serious problem that is hard for the avg homeowner to tackle without help. You need to do something or that area will be very wet for much of the year, you won't get good lawn growth, and that tree will die very shortly.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 8:15PM
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The neighborhood is about 15 years old and I renovated my yard in the fall and planted the tree at the same time. The picture shows the worst of it in the winter months. Grass has grown there in the past. I think it looks very bad because it's thin. I notice where the other neighbors yards drain in to but I think it would be a real pain to direct the water over there.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 8:31PM
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Rather than bringing in the earth moving equipment.

I think you have an opportunity for a nice bog garden in that spot.

Perhaps you could also move the existing tree and plant a River Birch in it's place, which likes a wet area.

By finding plants that like a wet area, you can turn your perceived lemon into "you-know-what"...and not spent a lot of money trying to drain the backyard swamp.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 8:51PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I think I would really prefer to fix this issue if possible

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:11AM
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vtec, Is your soil compacted in those areas? You could try aerating and then top dressing with compost.

In some cases, drainage can be improved with the use of an auger. It may be worth a try to bore several holes, two or three feet down, with an auger and then fill the holes with sand to create minature drywells in those areas. You could also use a post hole digger instead of renting an auger.

I would try that before I would try anything else.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:23AM
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Tyring to post this again. I don't know if it is compacted but it has a really bad slope where most of the water is collecting and I'm told the soil is full of clay. I aerated in the fall.

Thanks for the suggestions. Sounds like the cheapest answer so far. Anyone else think it might work to dig several holes and fill them with sand?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 1:11AM
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I dont see any way of fixing that problem without adding dirt. Add the topsoil starting at the high point of what's acceptable to you. This has the effect of moving the low area along, and moving along, toward the street.

There is a theoretical best grade, as shown in the sketch. You have a crummy existing grade, because you don't have enough dirt on the lot.

For your first project, (and you might only do one each year, but you might do two) ONLY add dirt to area #1, and bring area #1 up to the theoretical best grade. Grow some grass on it, that new dirt. Notice that you have nudged the low area along, toward the street. Next project: bring area #2 up to best grade, by adding dirt (and tidying up area 1, if needed), and grow some grass on it. Notice that you have nudged the low area forward, and only areas 3, 4, and 5, etc, are low, because 1 and 2 are now up to best grade. Next project, fill in area 3; then area 4, then area 5, etc, etc.

Taking this on gradually, with wheelbarrow and pickup truck of topsoil, rather than on a scale of dump truck and earth mover, can be quite manageable, in terms of your effort, expense, and how it looks as you go along.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 1:18AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

I had a similar problem and ran a 5 inch flex pipe under gound to the drainage point off my property (in my case, an paved alley). You put a grated entry and exit spout on it and, presuming you have the exit lower than the entry, it drains.

Presuming you have someplace the water should drain to and there is nothing you can't dig under to get it there, that is one way to solve the problem without doing quite a lot of dirt work.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 3:32PM
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i have a similar problem, i havent decided how to fix it yet :)

philes, the only problem with your solution is... what keeps the water from hitting your house??

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 5:37PM
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You build it up at the house. You start at the house, as well as at the neighbors fence (in the sketch), and you make the area high where you don't want water. Low area will get, and keep, water. High area will throw water to the low area. So build it up, in both 'area 1' on my sketch, and right next to the house. Note that the lower, water area is now thrown both toward the street, and out toward the middle of the lawn. Next project: build up area 2, on my sketch, and right next to area 1 on the house: the water is now thrown even MORE toward the middle of the lawn, as well as more toward the street. Once you've got that under control, relax. Have a beer. Grow some grass. Do more next year. Perhaps next month. But that's enough for now, so you don't get overwhelmed, and don't get broke.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 6:31PM
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I think firstandgoal had best idea. Just dig several modest drywells.

This link may help:

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 4:14PM
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I just had to sign in to this discussion to say this:
"Wow, Philes21, you know how to draw a sketch on your message...!!?? I'm impressed! I can't even post pictures."
Miss Mary

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:58PM
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Thank you all very much for the advice so far. So with the dry well option can I put a layer of soil on top and plant grass over it? Do I want to put these dry wells at the lowest points where the water collects?


    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:45PM
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In step 7 from the above link you could substitute the pea gravel for sand instead of soil, since the sand will allow the water to flow more freely.

Yes, put them at the lowest points.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 1:22AM
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So you suggest I top the hole off with sand... But can I put a layer of dirt over that and plant grass?


    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 6:42PM
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vtec, I was thinking you could top the hole off with sand and plant your grass seed in the sand.

You could top it off with a mixture of sand and soil, but do not use your clay soil.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 8:34PM
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Ok Thanks FG! Didn't realize grass would grow in pure sand

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 8:36PM
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Better yet, if you could use a shovel to cut your sod out where you will bore the holes you could put the sod right back on top.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 9:54PM
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