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Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

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Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Newbie » Apr 08, 2009 3:43 pm

Hi everyone,
need to pick your brains a bit. I moved into a new house last summer and have noticed a major issue in the backyard as far as drainage. In the attached picture, you can see the dark area in the back right corner (behind the pole, at the base of the hill). After a couple of days of rain, that's about 1 foot deep of mud. We have a lot of things we would like to do with this back yard since it's basically a blank slate but I feel we need to fix this issue first.

So - what do you think? My husband is thinking weeping tile but I'm worried that will mean digging a ditch that is about 100ft long (to the street). Any other options?
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Laura » Apr 08, 2009 3:52 pm



Isn't it great to start with a clean slate.I hope you will keep us posted on your progress.

I don't really have any advice for your drainage problem but I am sure others will.

Where are you located ?
Last edited by Laura on Apr 08, 2009 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Smitty » Apr 08, 2009 3:54 pm

would incorporating a creek into the garden plans help???
""Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Durgan » Apr 08, 2009 6:08 pm

Newbie wrote:Hi everyone,
need to pick your brains a bit. I moved into a new house last summer and have noticed a major issue in the backyard as far as drainage. In the attached picture, you can see the dark area in the back right corner (behind the pole, at the base of the hill). After a couple of days of rain, that's about 1 foot deep of mud. We have a lot of things we would like to do with this back yard since it's basically a blank slate but I feel we need to fix this issue first.

So - what do you think? My husband is thinking weeping tile but I'm worried that will mean digging a ditch that is about 100ft long (to the street). Any other options?


I moved into my present property in 2003, and had a similar problem with poor surface water drainage.

My solution. I dug several trenches by hand about 300 feet draining out into the storm sewer. The trench was about 18 inches deep and about 12 inches wide. I put gravel in the bottom and laid 5 inch diameter plastic weeping tile on top and covered with more gravel then returned the sod. The yard is now perfect with regards to drainage.

Here are pictures of the method. This is not my backyard, but I was associated since I had previous experience. I did not get pictures of my yard during the tiling process for various reasons.
http://www.durgan.org/URL/?Drainage
Zone 5 Brantford,ON
http://durgan.org/2011/
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Gwen J » Apr 10, 2009 12:26 am

We put a weeping tile in our yard, in exactly the way Durgan documents. The only additional advice I have is to pay a young man with a strong back to do the digging!

However, since you are looking for alternatives to weeping tile, perhaps you could do some reading about bog gardens. These don't cure the damp spot, but make use of it. If the damp does not threaten the house at all, apparently one can dig out the wet spot, line it with a plastic liner with holes poked in it, fill it with a mostly-peat moss mix and grow plants (like pitcher plants, etc.) that like those conditions. Haven't done it myself, but there is quite a bit of information available to be googled. It sounds very interesting. It also sounds like far less digging!

G.
Dryden, ON (Zone 2b)

The success of my garden is built on the compost of my failures. - Jimmy Turner
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Aigle » Apr 10, 2009 10:51 am

Hi Newbie,

Is ir really manky all year round? I ask since my yard is on top of an old, original watercourse (probably why they didn't build behind me back in the early 1900's) and a couple of areas are very mucky a few times of the year, but change to "consistently moist" in the summer. I'd load those areas with tons of organics and some sand and fill them with woodland plants that like moist conditions (shade) ferns, trillium, Jack-in the pulpit... bit to dry for Pitcher plant, but I'd love one. It's also a great zone for most of my annuals since I don't have to worry about rot in the Spring.

If you are looking at a small pond someday, nature may have shown you where.

Just spit-balling here :)
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Countryboy » Apr 10, 2009 5:10 pm

Looking at yr pic I wonder if the dampness in that spot is caused by runoff coming down from the higher 'plateau' that the houses are built on . . . or does it come from an underground flow that exits the bank at the dark spot.

Is is possible that there's a 'quickness' to the soil at that point? Quicksand would be a sure sign of a 'spring' there. A spring would be not so good for a lined pond I think but would be one of those rare places where u can simply dig out a hollow and let the water fill it from underneath.

A great spot for a bog garden! :)
Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.
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Re: Backyard Drainage (or lack thereof)

Postby Newbie » Apr 21, 2009 10:03 am

Thank you for all of your suggestions. To answer your questions: we're in Nova Scotia and from what I can tell, the wet area is probably run off from the neighbours yards. Unfortunately, we have had about a week of solid sun and it's still fairly mucky. This will be our first full summer in the house so we're not sure what to expect as far as whether it will clear up or not.

I think we will end up putting a pond in that area. And probably some weeping tile as well. The bog sounds neat but I'm not sure that we'd be able to keep our black lab out of it. He will probably be in the pond all the time too but at least that's a little less mucky.
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