Originally Posted by federer
we kind of graded about a year ago. that didnt turn out well. so you dont think putting in a new surface is a better solution?
It would depend on how it was graded. The point is to avoid letting water run toward the house. And when it's redirected, get it to somewhere that will let it disperse. This is dependent on what kind of soil is present too. If it's clay soil (like we have) then you can't expect much of the water to be absorbed into it. Putting soil on top of clay doesn't help, the water hits the clay and then follows gravity (downward) along the surface until it hits something else (like the house foundation).
So it's common to run a trench along a line parallel to the house and line it with a french drain sort of setup. Basically landscape cloth, a lot of gravel in the bottom, perforated drain hose, covered in more gravel and then soil on top of it. The point is for water to hit that soil, seep down through it into the gravel and into the drain hose, where it's redirected along the downward length, seeping out into the gravel along the way. If possible it helps to have the end of the drain dump out somewhere else that can take the overflow. On the surface you don't really see anything.
This is also how a french drain at the bottom of your foundation is supposed to work, more or less. Window well drains usually dump into this. This way the water finds an easier path away from the house instead of pooling up down along the foundation, eventually seeping through it. But like any other sort of drain they do need to remain clear. It's not uncommon for them to collapse or get clogged, just as any other sewer drain might. Having them cleaned out is likewise as important.
You've got to determine where the water is coming from any create ways to redirect that water at points farther away from the house. Grading is important, but so is managing rain gutter run-off. Find ways to let gravity do the work of letting the water move away from the foundation.