Need advice for back yard

Hi all,
I have a small 1000 foot house that seems to be sinking a little... The back yard has this wooden wall or bench(?) around it. There metal os sheeting about a foot high covering the length of the back of the house. I think the previous owners had water problems and this was their solution.
Can anyone recommend something that would be more attractive than this? The space between the wall and the house is about 18" or so, and it's filled with weeds etc. If I plant something there, wouldn't that create another water problem next to the house? If I remove it, we'd have the water problem.
One contractor suggested putting concrete there, having it slope away from the house, which sounds pretty ugly. Here are the pictures. It's in San Jose, CA. ANY suggestions are quite welcome!!
http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=tn8tdv.a7qiyrpv ...
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If you are serious and committed to doing this, the only thing to do would be to regrade the back yard. I'm actually surprised that the contractor didn't recommend this option for you. I have never done it, but I imagine the labor involved is digging, hoeing, and filling.
As a sidenote, I just read a statistic that improper / poor grading is the the cause of the largest percentage of insurance claims, and costs insurance companies the most in terms of dollars per year.
Maybe someone else will be able to give more specifics.
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First, did you have the house inspected prior to buying it? That could have saved you lots of future headaches and money. The big question is how much the house is "sinking" and what the cause is. That should be a major focus of your investigation. Excess water around that wall could be the cause.
As was pointed out, the lot may be graded improperly and slope towards the house, not away from it. Is that the case? The small wall may have been put there to try to deal with it in the hope of keeping water away, but that was a mistake and can make the problem worse by trapping water against the foundation. Check the grading. The ground should slope away from the house on all sides, by about an inch for every 4 feet. Get out there during a heavy rain and see where water is going. The gutters should be working and that water should be directed as far from the house as practical.
After you've figured out the grading/drainage issues, the solution to the wall is to get rid of it and replace it with some landscaping.
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I'd just wait until the next heavy rain and watch where the water goes.
If it does try go under your house then you can either make your foundation higher or your yard lower - or both.
The method you use is determined by out how much you can afford to pay. In my case, the low spot in my back yard can be fixed by some gravel and some 4 inch plastic pipe that drains my backyard to the front of my house into the street. Total cost about $150 at home depot and some back aches from burying the pipe.
I see lots of house like that near the bay here. You can buy them for about $28,000. How much is your house worth?
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That could be handled more aesthetically with a french drain:
http://www.google.com/search?q=french+drain
But if your foundation is sinking I'd get an engineer to look at the foundation before spending a lot of money fixing the wrong problem. From the pic it doesn't look obviously like a grading problem but it's hard to tell. What's the depth of the water table? Is the soil around the house perpetually moist? How old is the house and was it built on fill?
Steve Manes Brooklyn, NY http://www.magpie.com/house/bbs
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com says... :) Hi all, :) :) I have a small 1000 foot house that seems to be sinking a little... :) The back yard has this wooden wall or bench(?) around it. There metal :) os sheeting about a foot high covering the length of the back of the :) house. I think the previous owners had water problems and this was :) their solution. :) :) Can anyone recommend something that would be more attractive than this? :) The space between the wall and the house is about 18" or so, and it's :) filled with weeds etc. If I plant something there, wouldn't that :) create another water problem next to the house? If I remove it, we'd :) have the water problem. :) :) One contractor suggested putting concrete there, having it slope away :) from the house, which sounds pretty ugly. Here are the pictures. It's :) in San Jose, CA. ANY suggestions are quite welcome!! :) :) http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=tn8tdv.a7qiyrpv ... :) :) Filling the space with concrete might provide, if the metal hasn't already done it, an area where termites have access to the home's siding undetected. A French drain might help direct moisture away from that area.
--
Lar

to email....get rid of the BUGS
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LT,

Judging from the picture, it looks like someone built a raised planting bed next to the foundation?
If it were me, I would take out the raised bed, dig down to the footing and install a french drain pipe, covered with gravel and landscape fabric. I would also parge the foundation with some type of waterproofer. Then I would carefully backfill, making sure the ground slopes away from the house for at least 5-10 feet.
Also, make sure you have gutters on the house and direct the runoff away from the foundation.
Anthony
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