There is a corner of my house where water tended to collect, to the
point that the window well filled up. There is a downspoutthere, as
well as a low area. I corrected the problem by trenching away from
the house, and I am building up the dirt a little there. I put
extensions on the downspout to feed into the top of the trench, which
is shallow and gradually sloped.
The problem of the water collecting there seems to have been solved,
but now it is diverted toward the sidewalk, maybe 50 feet away. This
is not a problem with normal rain, but when we get a torrential
downpour, dirt tends to get on the sidewalk. In the Srping, with
snowmelts, I think it may be the same. To alleviate this, we are
planning to put in a drybed with river rock over landscape fabric. On
either side, we have put in a garden with mulch. I think the
appearance will be great, and more important, my wife thinks so.
On to my question. My intention right now is to put the drybed in
with the hope that the rocks and landscape fabric will contain most of
the dirt runoff. In order to minimize the runoff of water onto the
sidewalk, I was considering digging postholes 4 feet down, every 10
feet or so and putting in 4" PVC to carry water down, sort of like a
drywell. To keep the rocks from falling into the PVC pipes, I thought
I would put hardware cloth over them.
So, the plan is this: Along the approximately 50' swale, sink 5 or 6
PVC mini-drywells with hardware cloth to keep them open, laying
landscape fabric over the entire thing, and putting in about 2" of
Any comments, suggestions, "you're crazy, that won't work" comments?
If you are trying to get water to flow to a lower strata, you
would be better off digging your "post holes" and filling with
gravel - no pipe. Let the water join the subsoil wherever nature
will take it. The deeper the holes, the better, especially if you
get to a change of soil consistency like a shift from clay to
shale or loam to sand or similar.
Keep the whole world singing . . .
Digging 4" post holes, 4' down, every 10' is a waste of time and
energy. Those holes aren't big enough to handle any significant
volume of runoff.
Along your sidewalk, where your drybed will be, dig the center a bit
deeper, enough to lay a 4" PVC sewer field line (the one with holes in
it), to be covered (hidden) with your river rocks. Essentially,
you'll be making an enhanced French drain along the sidewalk. At the
house end of the PVC line, you might want to install an elbow,
pointing upward, with a grill cover (clean-out access).
The drybed will not run along the sidewalk, but to it (perpendicular,
not parallel). There is a significant buildup of soil on either side
of the trench, so laying something parallel would entail significant
digging. I am not averse to digging there, but would prefer to avoid
it because there are some plants and bushes I have already been told
are off limits for removal.
I was originally considering running a 4" PVC line from an elbow at
the point of water entry (near the house) with a grill, but as a drain
at ground level. My intention there was to run the water through this
as a drain line, but I still have the same problem of water letting
out at the sidewalk. The surface runoff would still put sediment on
My alternate consideration was to run the same line, with perforated
and sleeved drain pipe rather than solid. Although there might be a
little less sediment, none of this alleviates the problem of runoff.
I am trying to find a way to deal with the water before it gets to the
From what I have read, small drywells can be constructed much as I was
planning in the original post, but with fabric sleeve filled with pea
gravel (similar to DanG's suggestion), and perhaps twice as many as I
was originally planning (every 4-5 feet). This relies on the soil
below having good drainage, which I think it may, since the rest of
the yard is dry and all the digging and tilling I'v done in the are so
far has netted virtually no clay. Plus, it is only in this particular
area, when the rainfall is excessive, that there is a real problem.
I will probably go with this method for now, unless someone comes up
with a compelling reason not to, since I can always dig a deeper
trench later if it doesn't work. It looks like I will need to dig
What is wrong with water crossing over the sidewalk and then into the
street or wherever it goes??? Sidewalks are concrete or asphalt, just
like streets and where I live, Chicago suburbs, no one worries if
water crosses the sidewalks on the way to the streets. Almost every
driveway channels water down the driveway, crossing the sidewalk, and
then into the streets and non one gives it a second thought.
No major problem if it is just water, but after a major storm, quite a
bit of sediment gets carried with it, and it can be a littlemessy. I
imagine that after a period of time the amount of sediment will
decrease substantially. Also, in the case of a driveway, the water
flow is not restricted by the parkway on the other side of the
sidewalk. In that case, it runs into the street. In this case, it
runs onto the sidewalk, flow is slowed by the grass on the other side
of the sidewalk, and dirt settles there.
Sounds like the slope toward the sidewalk is pretty steep, compared to
lawn levels here in Louisiana (flat). I'm not so knowledgeable with
runoff/erosion of those conditions, but....
Is this sidewalk next to the street or is it across your lawn, leading
to another area?
If it's not along the street, is there a way to tunnel under the
sidewalk and have a/some drain (piping) bypass the sidewalk?
If the sidewalk is next to the street, about the only thing, I can
think of, is incorporating some type of grill edging, on the lawn side
of some plants that line the sidewalk. I would suppose a landscape
service can advise what type of grill edging would be use for such
runoff/erosion problems. ....Some type of edging that isn't unsightly
and coordinates with a variety of lawn decor styles, maybe.
I still don't think 4" holes, with gravel, can handle any significant
volume of runoff.
A more expensive approach than what you're presently prepared to do:
In conjunction with your present plans, build a small rock wall along
the sidewalk (cordinated with your landscaping scheme), with grilled
drains, every so often, along the wall, allowing drainage onto the
My front lawn has a slightly higher elevation than many, ut it is just
one area where the water ran to the walk. It was a combination of my
undamming an area near the house when I saw the window well fill with
water, the fact that this area was under a lot of trees and so had no
grass, and the city cutting down a huge tree right next to the walk in
fornt of the mud-prone area.
What I ended up doing was similar to what I had planned originally,
but following the suggestion of DanG and some further research I did
not usePVC to direct the water downward. I dug the postholes, 7 or 8,
to varying depths from 2 to 4 feet, widening some a bit if I didn't
get the depth I wanted due to tree roots. The deeper ones were dug to
the point where it was apparent that I was going to be removing clay
beyond my tool's depth. I filled these holes with stone from another
project on anothe part of the lot. At the end, I used a shovel to dig
down about a foot deep and a couple feet square. I then went down
another foot or two, kind of stepping it down into an area about 2
feet by 3 feet. In this area I put more of the stone removed from the
other project. This worked perfectly that very night when we got
another storm. In fact, it worked well during a couple downpours.
Then I laid down landscape fabric and ordered a couple tons of
decorative stone in order to make this look better. After laying down
the stone, it was again tested with a storm. This resulted in my
going out during the storm to A) unclog the damn gutters and
B) furiously hurl decorative stone out of the way, as it was damming
up the area near the window well again and C) swear.
I have since added a section of downspout to carry the roof runoff
past the point where it was dammed, and I will regrade above that area
with some added dirt, since it is still a little lower by the window
well. I am going to cover the downspout as best I can with the
decorative river rock. It is larger rock (2"-3"+), so burying it may
be difficult. I will re-grade the top of the trench as well.
So, there is the project. Thoughts?
If you post some pics on the web that we can see, you'd get much
I'd agree with the posters that have suggested having 6 four inch
"drywells" along a 50 ft run isn't going to have any significant
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