Ditch Digging

I've got to put down about 50 feet of 4-inch french drain along the sides of the house. The plan is to dig down 5-inches, lay a perforated drain pipe, cover it with screen material and gravel.
Normally I would get out the old pick and shovel, but the wife is out of town right now. All the ditch diggers I see online are for heavy duty ditches. Any suggestions what would work good on a small job like this?
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in message I've got to put down about 50 feet of 4-inch french drain along the sides of the house. The plan is to dig down 5-inches, lay a perforated drain pipe, cover it with screen material and gravel.
Normally I would get out the old pick and shovel, but the wife is out of town right now. All the ditch diggers I see online are for heavy duty ditches. Any suggestions what would work good on a small job like this?
I thought about getting one of those narrow tillers, pulling off the blades and replacing them with 12-inch saw blades about 4-inches apart. Then I could cut the sides of the trench and then go back and shovel out the dirt.
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On Fri, 20 Nov 2015 03:11:40 -0600, Snuffy "Hub Cap" McKinney

Would your local rental place have a walk behind trencher? Home Depot? Lowes? The few walk behinds I've seen dig only a couple feet deep, at most.
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On Fri, 20 Nov 2015 05:48:39 -0600, "Dean Hoffman"

I'm in my mid 60s and I just dug about 100 feet of trench about 10 inches deep. I did it all with a shovel and hand spade. I just did a little each day. I start with the shovel, and clean it out with the small hand spade. One day I went about 25 ft. no blisters yet, and I dont wear gloves.
5" is probably not enough for a 4" pipe. You'll barely cover it. I'd go at least 8" deep.
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On 11/20/2015 4:51 PM, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moc wrote:

Depending on the OPs location, 5" may not be with code.
OP, check local codes before you begin.
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On 11/20/2015 2:11 AM, Snuffy "Hub Cap" McKinney wrote:

I don't think 5 inches is going to be near deep enough. Also, unless your grade already has an "appropriate" pitch (and in the direction you prefer!), you'll need to go deeper at one end to keep the water flowing (presumably, you want to do something with it at that far end!)
Also, make sure ALL the water will get *into* the drain; you may want to make a wider excavation and/or some landscaping to direct "nearby" water into your system.

I laid 2,000 ft of irrigation line with just a "trencher" (and my back). It's relatively easy to get down (just) 6 inches -- even in the clay they call "soil", here! And, the trencher cuts a 4 or 5" wide swath with each blow (make a second pass to clean up the trench and you'll have the width you need, "clean"). Tough spots can benefit from the pick on the opposite end...
In hindsight, I would have bought one of those narrow 4" wide shovels to clean the dirt from the trench (instead of just dragging it out with the trencher). They're also a lot easier on your back (long handle).

Until you hit a stone...
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On Fri, 20 Nov 2015 01:06:38 -0800
wrote:

Mexicans! They dig good and cheap.
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On Fri, 20 Nov 2015 01:06:38 -0800, "Snuffy \"Hub Cap\" McKinney"

A walk-behind trencher? http://www.unitedrentals.com/en/catalog/equipment-tools/earthmoving-equipment/trenchers/walk-behind-trencher-30-36-depth
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Sounds good, but....
Many yrs after working as a ditch digger, I also worked as a rental tech. Serviced equipment we rented out. Our Ditch Witch was in pieces and we were unable to get parts, so it was junk. Prolly not many walk behind trenchers can do swimming pool plumbing, but sounds like yer doing lawn sprinkler installs. No doubt that for a mere five inches, you can rent a WB trencher. I'd look into it. Home Depot?
Now, where I live, they do not rent WB trenchers of any kind. This due to the fact that, although I live at 8K ft elev, this entire valley was once under water (apparently). That means you can dig down 2 inches and hit a granite river rock the size of a VW bug. You see a lotta rock piles, here, and backhoes come in every size from a shovel to huge tracked Caterpillar/Komatsu's. BTW, if you have bedrock at less than five inches, you'll need a good pick. ;)
nb
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wrote:

It shows him in the middle of a field. Can one use such a thing right next to the wall?
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Per Snuffy "Hub Cap" McKinney:

Starting about 3" down from the surface, we have shale and clay, so this may not apply to everybody....
After having a trench dug from the house to a garden shed about 100' away - and having to clean up after the guy....
I would take pains to lay some sort of runner - maybe painter's poly tarp - next to the length of the ditch-to-be and then make sure that the dirt that comes out of the ditch goes on the runner.
That way, it would be much, much easier to fill the ditch back in without leaving a mess.
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wrote:

Very good idea. I do that when I plant a tree, etc. but I still might have forgotten here.
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Give a call to Strother Martin. I hear he's got a fella in need of some right thinking...
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061512/
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On Fri, 20 Nov 2015 01:06:38 -0800, "Snuffy \"Hub Cap\" McKinney"

What do you call "dirt" there? That is going to be the main issue. If it is clay and gravel, you probably need a machine. Since it is next to the house it is going to be back fill so I doubt it will be solid rock. I would dig a litt;le and see how it goes, then decide whether this is something you want to do.
I got 4 hours of a mini excavator with an operator for $300 on craigs list a couple weeks ago to dig out a new septic field (about 10 yards of dirt). That was his minimum charge. It did not take that long and he also dug out a big tree for me.
Your job is nowhere near that big tho (maybe a yard or 2 of dirt) unless you are going to try to get rid of the water you are collecting with that "drain". Where will that pipe go? What will happen to the water? I assume you want it to get away from the house.
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On Friday, November 20, 2015 at 4:06:49 AM UTC-5, Snuffy "Hub Cap" McKinney wrote:

for a french drain that pipe would effectively do anything,
exterior frenchdrains MUST BE BELOW the leve of the footer.
doing such a shallow drain? when your done you will still have a wet basement, have a messed up yard , will have utterly wasted the work time and money spent on the project.
but feel free to prove me wrong:) after all its your back and wallet.
but i speak from experience
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wrote:

That's what I thought. Mine, installed during construction, is below the basement floor level. (Although now I can imagine some wierd situation where it's not true. OP, who said this would work?)

Years ago here I recommended UGL waterproof paint. A friend A who has a friend B with a wet basement and I last year painted B's basement, but the basement is crowded and there were things we could not move or get behind. The paint worked great where it was applied, but 20 feet down the wall, some water came in. Less or maybe even much less than before, but in a different place.
Bearing all that in mind, I really recommend UGL latex waterproofing paint, though I don't know its actual name. It comes in white but can be tinted, iirc.
Also, isn't there supposed to be some way to grade the yard to make the water run away from the wall? Pile 6" of dirt near the wall?
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On Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:00:19 PM UTC-5, Micky wrote:

I had waterproofing paint bubble from the water pressure on it. touched one bubble and it burst i got wet.
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wrote:

I bet a 6-year old would have really enjoyed that.
Maybe too much loose surface material when painted? But anyhow, I'm a lazy guy, so after it dried i'd just clean it and repaint it.
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in message

sides of the house. The plan is to dig down 5-inches, lay a perforated drain pipe, cover it with screen material and gravel.

of town right now. All the ditch diggers I see online are for heavy duty ditches. Any suggestions what would work good on a small job like this?
Thanks for the good ideas. To answer some of the comments....
This is a very small job. The water all drains away from the house already, then across the yard into a garden and then out to the street gutter. I would rather the water go straight to the street and not take garden soil with it.
There the house is raised foundation. No basement. The way the lot is graded, a drain 4-6 inched deep is below the foundation.
Soil is hard packed clay.
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