Fearless Husband and I have been getting water in the basement ever since we bought the house. The problem seems to be that the dirt around our house is too high and when the ground gets saturated, especially in a fast, heavy rain, water will leak in above the foundation between the bricks. To alleviate some of the water pressure around the foundation we decided to install a french drain. Here is an illustration of a french drain I found online:
We started by digging a gently sloping trench that ran along our back wall then turned down towards the garden area. We hope this will take the water away from the house and towards our thirsty vegetables.
We then laid a thin layer of gravel and laid down a 25’, perforated, flexible pipe covered in a landscape netting “sock.” We covered this with about 4“-8“ of gravel.
At the end of the trench, we dug a 3’ hole for a make-shift cistern. Basically, it’s just a hole that gets down below the clay layer to better-draining soil.
We put some gravel at the bottom of hole to aid drainage, and flipped a 5-gallon bucket with a hole cut it in to keep the dirt from collapsing back into the hole.
We then attached the tubing to the bucket – the kind we got just snapped right in.
Then it was just a matter of filling in the trench with gravel:
We ended up using gravel we pulled out of the yard when we first moved in. That gravel had a lot of dirt mixed in with it, which would not work well for the drain, so we had to come up with a creative way to quickly get the gravel separated from the rest of the dirt…
We used the grated top of my garden cart to sift it out which worked surprisingly well!
After we laid down the gravel, we filled the dirt back into the beds. After leveling those out we covered with a mulch made of fallen leaves. This should both keep weeds down and get some nutrients back into the soil as the leaves breakdown over the winter.
The whole project only cost about $25, plus about 12 hours of labor. We’re going to see how this does over the winter with handling the snow melt-offs If we see an improvement in the basement water issues, we will be installing similar systems along the north and south walls of the house come Spring.