Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Solving Drainage Issues

When Jack and I moved into our house about four years ago, we discovered that we had inherited water movement issues that were not readily apparent when we bought our house at the end of a very dry summer.  The 100-year flood of 2011 enlightened us. We quickly discovered where all our problem areas were. Thankfully, we suffered no actual damage--all our problems were of the nuisance variety, for instance, lawn areas that stayed wet too long and mulch that kept escaping the beds and running into the lawn. One by one, over the course of the past four years or so, we've gradually been finding solutions for those problem spots. In the next few posts, I'll share those solutions.

But first a little context . . . . Our house sits at a higher elevation than most of the houses in our neighborhood. But, as you can see in the photo below (taken when we bought the house), the neighbor's house (let's call him neighbor #1) is at a slightly higher elevation and has mostly concrete back and side yards that slope toward our house. Our house is to the right and not visible in the picture. This lawn area is in the front of our house.

 Neighbor #1's downspouts empty directly onto this concrete area and so the water ends up in our front, side, and back yards. The neighbor behind him (different development, elevation a little higher still) has a pool in his backyard so most of his rainwater flows onto his pool deck and runs into channels directed toward neighbor #1's backyard. So, that water eventually ends up in our yard as well. Here's another view, this one from our backyard. Neighbor #1's house is at the top of the incline.

As you can tell, the former owners of our house were not much into gardening. In fact, they called the area shown in this picture "the wilds" and left it as an untended, natural area. This sight might frighten away many potential buyers, but for a recently retired, garden enthusiast, it was a blank slate with a lot of potential. 

The former owner had installed several catch basins at the top of the incline and directed the water away from the house using buried drain pipes. He had also attached drain pipes to the downspout on this side of the house and, to avoid cutting a lot of tree roots, did not bury them but rather disguised them using a stacked stone wall. This wall (covered with ivy) can be seen in the picture, just in front of the trees. All this helped but did not completely solve the problem.

In future posts, I'll show you how Jack and I found solutions for our problems using natural devices like swales, berms, and dry stream beds. 

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