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Ditch Digging: Happy Memorial Day!

June 1, 2011

Because of all the rain we have gotten in the last month the ground is completely saturated. The poor drainage is mostly caused by the soil in our area which is clay. We did amend the soil in the yard when the sod was installed last fall but only several inches down. Once the water drains through this top soil it just sits on the clay beneath. We graded the yard also, but the garden beds in the back are raised 6 inches or so higher than the yard and as a result it created a pool of standing water where the yard meets the garden. The water was standing for so long, the grass began to die and we had to come up with a solution.

Sooo…….I watch HGTV and I’ve seen people install drainage ditches or french drains in order to move water from one spot to another. We decided  we could do it and that this would be a great way to divert the unwanted storm water to another part of our property. Our lot is raised much higher than the lot to the south and east. We diverted the water to the south side of the lot.

Luckily right as we started digging our friend John showed up unexpectedly. Thank goodness for the extra muscle. The digging would have been easy except for all of the maple roots. Blasted maple trees! Geoff and I must have hacked through 30 roots, some as large as 4″ diameter. That’s right, we hacked – with a dull hatchet. A saws-all  or reciprocating saw would have been very handy.

Anyway…..we dug a ditch with a slight grade towards the southern property line. We covered the ditch with landscape fabric to prevent dirt, silt and plant matter from disrupting the water flow and clogging the drain pipe.

The drain pipe has slits every inch around the whole circumference of the pipe to allow the ground water to seep in. We filled the ditch with a small amount of gravel, laid the pipe and covered it with gravel. The gravel adds to the drainage and keeps the ground around the pipe free and clear so the water can seep in.

I would have taken better pictures but I forgot to shoot a few of the steps.

The remaining landscape fabric was then folded in to cover the pipe and prevent the topsoil fill from penetrating the gravel. 

Then we filled in the ditch with top soil, covered with mulch and replaced the removed grass from the yard.

We will find out if it works the next time it rains!
What you need to do this project:
  • pea gravel
  • a heavy duty shovel
  • landscape fabric
  • slotted flexible drainage pipe
Overall cost was $40, time spent 6 hours (only because of the roots).
 All of the supplies are available at Home Depot.
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