A better yard starts with better yard drainage

June 19, 2015

The good news? Most wet yards can be drained effectively. Usually, it's pretty obvious where the water is coming from, so you'll soon be on your way to a better backyard.

A better yard starts with better yard drainage

If you happen to be among the unlucky 60 per cent of homeowners who have some type of water problem in their yard, you've got two options: sell your house and buy one of the homes from the other 40 per cent, or roll up your sleeves and deal with it.

  • Take care of minor foundation drainage problems by making sure the soil slopes away from the house. And by having properly installed gutters, with a well-directed downspout that empties clear of the foundation.
  • Look for a spot that's lower than the house to drain the excess water. If you want, or need, to draw the water from the foundation, or avoid having a long attachment on the base of your downspout, you can install a dry well. It is merely a holding tank for a large water runoff that streams through a plastic tube and slowly drains into surrounding soil. But be prepared to dig!
  • As with any digging project, you must locate buried electrical, telephone and TV cables and gas piping before starting.

What you will need to make a dry well

  • plastic tubing, either perforated (with a sock sleeve) or unperforated
  • gravel
  • landscape fabric

Before going to the home centre, make sure you've got a good shovel, a string line and level, and a solid wheelbarrow.

First, dig a trench

Dig a trench that extends well past your foundation. There's no magic number for the depth and length of the trench. Just figure that you'll need a trench at least 40 centimetres (16 inches) deep closest to the house.

The drainage tube needs to slope down and away from the foundation, descending 2.5 centimetres for every 2.4 metres (one inch for every eight feet).

The layers are:

  • 7.5 centimetres (three inches) of gravel under the 10-centimetre (four-inch) tube
  • Another 7.5 centimetres (three inches) of gravel on top of the tube
  • About 15 centimetres (six inches) of soil over that.
  • Where the tube meets the downspout from the gutter, install a fitting to drain the roof water directly into the tube.

Select your tube

You can purchase snap-together tube in three-metre (10-foot) lengths or buy a 15-metre (50-foot) roll. The tube is available in either perforated (holes punched into the sides) or unperforated.

  • Choose a perforated tube if you'd like it to drain as it carries water.
  • Perforated tubing can come with an integrated sock that filters out debris so that the tube does not become clogged, or you can buy a sock separately.
  • However, if you only want the tube to deliver water from one spot to another, buy unperforated tubing and don't use a sock.

Put it all together

  • Lay down the first 7.5 centimetre (three inch) layer of gravel, then place the tube on top and verify the slope (2.5 centimetres for every 2.4 metres, or one inch for every eight feet).
  • If the slope is correct, add a second 7.5 centimetre (three inch) layer of gravel, then 15 centimetres (six inches) of soil.
  • Finally, tamp the soil; it should be the same level as the surrounding grade.
  • You may need to rent a trash container or schedule a truck to dispose of excess landfill, or plan to use the soil elswhere in the garden.
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