addressing poor backyard drainage


Old 03-24-08, 12:20 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 12
addressing poor backyard drainage

lots of issues here, hope I can summarize semi-succinctly:

our property slopes slightly downhill, towards the front of our house. the house/garage is an "L" shape, with the long side facing downhill, so water running down from the yardless mcmansion behind us gets caught in the crook of the L, pools up and makes a swamp in the backyard. i'd like to do two things, both of which i have questions about:

first, do some planting. i'm posting on another part of the forum to ask about that. but hopefully I can mitigate some of it that way.

second, create some places where water can collect and drain: french drains and/or dry wells. Of course, the best thing would be to divert the water all the way around our house to the front, where it can run freely down into the front lawn and (eventually) into the storm drains. but our backyard is quite wide (over 90 feet), as is our house/garage, and i'm not sure if our village code allows for drainage paths to happen within 5 feet of other people's property... so for now i'm concentrating on dealing with the backyard, in isolation. i've done a little bit of research... but i have heard that these solutions really only work in non-clay soil. so i have a few questions:

first, how can i tell if i have clay-y soil?

second, how deep should the french drain be, below the surface?

third, how deep/wide should the dry wells be?

fourth, how far away from our foundation should any of these things be?

thanks for any help!
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Old 04-03-08, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
French drains are usually placed at the bottom of the slope to catch the water before it invades the yard. For some specifics on French drains:

To determine soil type and any required amendments, you need a soil test. Your local Cooperative Extension Agent can help you with the test and make recommendations.

A consultation with a landscape engineer is very helpful to discuss landscape drainage issues and recommended corrective measures.

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