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Sinkholes fixed, now what: regrade vs trench drains

Sinkholes fixed, now what: regrade vs trench drains


Old 05-06-07, 10:34 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 2
Sinkholes fixed, now what: regrade vs trench drains

The backyard of my 0.40 acre property sits lower than lots behind it. This small slope continues into my yard, where a small swale on my back property line catches & funnels most rainfall drainage away, before it can run down the small slope to my backyard & house.

Between this slope and my house the ground essentially levels off to flat. But actually there is another imperceptible swale that keeps water away from my house. You should have this picture in mind: slope/SWALE/slope/(swale)/house.

Several years ago a sinkhole opened in the SWALE at the back. We filled with a couple of yards of dirt and that was that. A couple of weeks ago another sinkhole opened in the (swale) about 15' from my house, right where water would pool whenever it rained. While waiting for a pro to come look at this very scary hole, it rained, and I could watch the water just running into this hole.

OK, here's my questions...

$1800 later I now have both sinkholes remediated and filled back to grade. In hindsight I realize I should have addressed the question of "regrade vs french drain" while I hade the backhoe here, but what's done is done.

I'm now faced with the same (swale) problem: water still pools where the sinkhole had been, and I don't know whether I should regrade (only) to force the water to continue on it's way off of my property. Or should I go with a trenched french drain, leading to a dry well located near my side property line, on an existing slope that runs away from my house.

Money is an object, as this second sinkhole opened up a month after I'd just spent $1500 on tree work to open up the sun-choking canopy that made grass growing very difficult. The sinkhole led to another $750 expense to take down two trees in my yard (they were goners due to the sinkhole). Now there's no canopy because there's no longer any trees

I'm thinking that a regrade is a much harder job to get right; remember, we're talking about a yard that's essentially flat, and needs to remain so. So not only do I think a trench/drain/drywell solution easier to get "right", I think in the long run it's the better solution. What do you think? What would you estimate the cost of these alternatives to be, or, considering that might be difficult, which would cost more?

I'm in Warren County, New Jersey, and my soil is essentially clay. I guess I'm going to have to topsoil fill just to grow grass in this soil, so that might enter into deciding which way to go next.
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Old 05-06-07, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
Your best bet would be to consult with a landscaping engineer before doing anything. You can then discuss the options of grading and effects of runoff as well as the best way to install a french drain system with wells. The engineer would also be able to recommend someone to do the work as well as estimated costs.
Old 05-06-07, 04:03 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 2
Landscaping Engineer?

How much is THAT gonna cost?

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