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Old 03-29-2013, 01:41 PM   #1
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


Hey folks, I'm new to the forums, a newlywed (about a year now), and newly a first time homeowner (about a month ago). We found a house we love, but unfortunately the back yard leaves much to be desired. In fact, it's downright unbearable in the rainy season (which, here in Arkansas, is all year long).

The lot is about .23 acre, about 75ft wide by 130ft deep, I believe. The house sits at the highest point on the lot, so my grading keeps water away from the foundation. A week after we bought the house, we had gutters installed, as it had none originally. The previous owners apparently had a passion for Volleyball. As such, they installed a regulation size (I assume) sand volleyball pit in the backyard, which is at the lowest point of the property. Needless to say, we don't share the same love for the sport, so right now it's a breeding ground for frogs (though peaceful at night, can be a little obnoxious) and most likely swarms of mosquitoes in the near future. In the month we've been in the house, we've yet to have the pit dry, it always has several inches of standing water in it (3" at the most shallow, up to 10" at the back, right corner). The previous owners were kind enough to leave a half-way working sump pump with the house, but it does little good as it trips the GFI every hour or so.

I'm going to embed a few pictures and post links to the rest, in hopes that I can get some advice from those more knowledgeable about this sort of thing than I am.

Satellite view of the house. Older image, there are now houses on either side of my property (though none behind).



Our half-swimming pool!






My artistic interpretation of the elevation and it's ability to retain water:



The rest of the pictures (and larger versions), for reference: http://justinrowan.com/yard/

Needless to say, this is an issue for us. Our backyard is not useable in this state. Despite living in Arkansas, I'm not really much for frog gigging. I believe the property on all sides of me is higher. Both neighbors, the land behind, and the house. Halfway up the length of the lot, the elevation gently slopes toward the street.

My initial thought was to bring in topsoil, level the yard, dig french drains, and then sod. The problem is, being a young, newlywed, homeowner, funds aren't exactly pouring out of my pocket. Beyond that, I realize I'll most likely have to wait until summer for the rain to slack up before I can get anything done at all. I had a landscaper come out and give a quote for the job, he quoted $8,500, which I thought to be absurd.. $5,600 of the quote was labor alone, over a 3 day job with a 3 man crew. I'm handy, and am not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I've got a good bit of experience through friends in family that would be willing to help out on this project. I just need some guidance from those who have more knowledge.

The issue with french drains is that I'd have to run them (essentially) up hill, the length of the property, and then drain to the curb. I do have a storm drain at the northeast edge of my property (you can see it in the satellite image), which the landscaper suggested to drill directly into for the outlet of the drains. I don't have any measurements as to the elevation difference between the curb and the back yard, but it's not insignificant.. my assumption is that we'd need a pretty deep trench by the time we were done.. and I just don't know if the street is low enough to accommodate that without tying directly into the storm drain. (Is that even legal, the landscaper acted as though 'what the city doesn't know won't hurt them'.. pretty shady).

I apologize for the wall of text, I'm sure some of you can understand my disarray and frustration. At this point, I don't have a plan.. I just have some thoughts. Any and all advice or comments would be appreciated!

[edit]
Images were huge, I replaced with smaller versions.. all are available at the link.


Last edited by NegativeTen; 03-29-2013 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:33 PM   #2
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


If you were to fill in the volleyball pit, would the new level be higher than the land behind your lot? What kind of soil do you have below the topsoil? Clay? Sand? I'm thinking the water is pooling there because it's a hole in the ground. Filled in, there would be no place for the water to accumulate and it would run off naturally eliminating the need for additional drains.

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Old 03-29-2013, 03:01 PM   #3
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


The land immediately behind the lot is higher, and slopes toward the edge of our lot. If you notice in the pictures, just beyond the rear fence section is a low point between the two lots.. though it's filled with brush and overgrowth, it's pretty swampy. Honestly I haven't had a chance to walk beyond the property line, since it's so saturated. Also, the pit isn't the only issue, if you notice in the pictures the northwest portion of the lot is pretty covered with water as well. (http://justinrowan.com/yard/20130329_121111.jpg). I can't attest for the natural drainage of the land, because all I can see is what's in my yard. Maybe once it gets dry enough I'll walk the property line and beyond to see if there's any sort of natural slope to the rear of the property. It would be a blessing if filling in the pit was an easy and effective solution, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:34 PM   #4
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


Raising the grade will help but that water still has to have some place to go.
I'd be walking that ditch line to see where it's suppost to drain.
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:38 PM   #5
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Raising the grade will help but that water still has to have some place to go.
I'd be walking that ditch line to see where it's suppost to drain.
this^^^
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:10 PM   #6
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


The rain slacked up so I dug out some old boots and removed a section of the rear fence and walked up and down a few houses. It seems my house is pretty much the low spot of the street. The area is not as deep as I thought it was (only about 3" once I pass my fence), but it is completely overgrown which I'm sure destroys any drainage capabilities that it might posses. I looked at the plat, and it says there's a 15' drainage and utility easement that runs at the rear of the properties, but I'm not sure if that 15' is within or beyond my fenceline. My guess would be within, because of the utility pole in the northwest corner of my yard. I don't have a proper survey of the property. In any event, it would make sense to me that the area beyond my fence should drain south toward the street, but it certainly doesn't do that. Also, the house to my north is brand new construction.. built just before we moved in. That's where the bulk of the water pools (northeast corner).

It started raining pretty heavily again while I was out there, if it slacks up again I'll get some pictures of beyond the fence.

Here's a zoomed out view of the street:
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:16 PM   #7
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


No clue how it works where you are but around here any develper has to come up with a drainage plan.
There may just be a common problum anyone in the ajoining lots have that you do that could be addressed at the same time and the cost shared.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:34 PM   #8
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


Ayuh,... The hedge row behind the lots, does it pitch Up yer picture, or Down,..??
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:45 PM   #9
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


IMO, if you fill in the volleyball pit and grade it correctly you won't need the drains. Worst case you have to go back and put in some catch basins. They make these big fiberglass tanks that get buried but I can't think of the name right now.

You could definitely DIY this. The big PITA is getting the fill/soil from the front to the back. Best I can tell, you don't have the room to drive a dump truck back there. Be sure to call your local Dig Safe before you do anything.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:35 PM   #10
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


I would have a guy take a look at it who does drainage for farmers. My hydrojetter guy does this. Example if a farmer has a field which is flooding he shows up with his excavators and pipes the water to drain away from field.

Last edited by 747; 03-29-2013 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:43 PM   #11
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


Quote:
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Ayuh,... The hedge row behind the lots, does it pitch Up yer picture, or Down,..??
I'll get some better pictures this weekend, maybe the sun will come out. It's not so much hedges as it is just overgrowth, thorns, weeds, some deciduous trees, and assorted other small plants. It gradually slops downward west to east onto my property. North/South wise, my property appears to be in a low spot, so I get the drainage from both north and south.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djlandkpl View Post
IMO, if you fill in the volleyball pit and grade it correctly you won't need the drains. Worst case you have to go back and put in some catch basins. They make these big fiberglass tanks that get buried but I can't think of the name right now.

You could definitely DIY this. The big PITA is getting the fill/soil from the front to the back. Best I can tell, you don't have the room to drive a dump truck back there. Be sure to call your local Dig Safe before you do anything.
Catch basins, I hadn't though of that at all. Are you talking about the standard 12"x12" basins, or something larger? How many would generally be required? I assume placing them on a nice bed of gravel would be ideal?

As far as getting dirt back there, you're right. I'd have to have it dumped in the front, and moved to the back. I called one local company, and they quoted $200 delivered for 15yds of topsoil (though I don't know any specifics about the contents of 'topsoil,' I've read it can vary and there's no strict definition). The soil composition here is largely clay, and I'm about 5 miles as the crow flies to the Arkansas River. Although, I did find the name of the person that owns the dozen or so acres behind the lot, so there's potential that I could get permission to have the dirt delivered across their land and dumped straight into the pit.. that would be fantastic... though the ground would have to be exceptionally dry or I'd worry about the truck getting stuck.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 747 View Post
I would have a guy take a look at it who does drainage for farmers. My hydrojetter guy does this. Example if a farmer has a field which is flooding he shows up with his excavators and pipes the water to drain away from field.
Unfortunately that's probably not an option. Getting anything larger than a bobcat in the back yard would be nearly impossible, plus I don't have anywhere to drain the water to, except for the curb at the front of the lot.

Thanks for the replies and ideas. I'd really like to research the use of catch basins. That seems like a cost effective, easy solution. Is there the potential to saturate the ground and not solve the issue with water retained in the basins if I wasn't piping it away?
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:11 PM   #12
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


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Catch basins, I hadn't though of that at all. Are you talking about the standard 12"x12" basins, or something larger? How many would generally be required? I assume placing them on a nice bed of gravel would be ideal?

As far as getting dirt back there, you're right. I'd have to have it dumped in the front, and moved to the back. I called one local company, and they quoted $200 delivered for 15yds of topsoil (though I don't know any specifics about the contents of 'topsoil,' I've read it can vary and there's no strict definition). The soil composition here is largely clay, and I'm about 5 miles as the crow flies to the Arkansas River. Although, I did find the name of the person that owns the dozen or so acres behind the lot, so there's potential that I could get permission to have the dirt delivered across their land and dumped straight into the pit.. that would be fantastic... though the ground would have to be exceptionally dry or I'd worry about the truck getting stuck.
I was thinking of a tank. I can't find an example because I can't remember the name of it. It's 2 fiberglass halves that get bolted together. Water goes in the top and filters out through holes in the sides and bottom. If there's too much water it fills the tank until it can drain out. It won't do you much good if you have heavy clay down below.

From the pics, you're going to need a lot more than 15 yards.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:39 PM   #13
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Seeking Advice.. HORRIBLE drainage problem :(


Going on the rough estimate of 70ft wide, by 48 ft long, and an average of 6" deep, that's about 40 yards... and of course once it's compacted I'd need more than that I'm sure. Is $200/15yds a decent price for topsoil, delivered? Would topsoil be the way I need to go? Should I get a load of fill first? I haven't gotten a price on anything but topsoil. Also, if I graded, would I want to sod immediately to prevent erosion? 3-4 trucks of dirt and a bobcat for a day is going to add up to be pretty expensive, not sure if I could necessarily afford to put sod on right away. (Prices around here at $1.50/yd of Bermuda) Then again, I want to do this right the first time so I don't ever have to worry about it again.
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:15 PM   #14
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I can't speak to the price as it varies on many factors. Where I live I would love 6 inches of top soil. I don't know the growing requirements for Bermuda grass. Keep in mind there's a trade off between sod and seed. You have to water it, weed it and hope it grows. Still have to water sod but not like seed.

Based on your rough measurements you're closer to 60 yards. (48x70x.5)/27
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:26 PM   #15
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Sorry, the 48 number was an initial thought before I went back and referenced the pictures and counted sections of 8' fence. It's closer to 70x32x.5, give or take. In any event, I'm looking at a solid 3 loads, probably 4 after compaction.

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