Sloping Backyard - Knowledgebase Question

Cordova, Te
Question by ianb_88
June 3, 2010
My backyard slopes slightly, and gets covered with water when it rains. I am wanting to know if I should attempt to level it out or would it be better to landscape around the back and try to kind of create a dam to hold back the water?

Answer from NGA
June 3, 2010


Without seeing it, I'm having a hard time trying to decide the best approach. You may be able to install a curtain drain to redirect the rainwater. I don't think a dam will work and trying to level it out might not work either so that leaves us with a curtain or French drain as a solution to the problem. French drains are quite simple: in essence they are just trenches filled with gravel, with sand on top of that. Often, you'll see French drains defined to include a drain pipe as well, though the traditional design is simply the gravel-filled trench. The advantages of French drains are low cost and easy installation. In addition, they can be covered over with turf after installation, making them less conspicuous. A French drain starts with digging a trench. The depth and width of the trench can vary, but 5 to 6 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches deep are common sizes and usually satisfy most needs. Grading is a critical consideration ? you must ensure that enough slope exists for the water to actually flow, and flow in the right direction. It might be adequate to check very short stretches of drain with a level to ensure that a slope exists to carry water in the desired direction. However, you should take whatever measures are necessary, including a survey and grading, if needed, to ensure that you have at least a 0.5 percent slope. A 1 or 2 percent grade is better. Add gravel to the trench to within a few inches of the surface. Gravel for this use is typically 0.5 to 1 inch in size. On top of the gravel, lay at least 3 or 4 inches of coarse sand. This provides a medium in which turf can grow so that the trench will not be visible. But remember that the sand must be coarse or it won't allow water to properly drain through. Turf may be seeded into the sand or simply allowed to grow in from the adjacent stand, if the turf is a spreading type. Or, you can lay sod over the sand.

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