My husband and I have spent a good part of this summer working on our side yard with the goal of stopping storm water runoff from inundating the neighbor’s yard and perhaps basement. I should say “slow down” the water rather than “stop” the water because with the heavy rain showers we’ve had in recent years, I doubt if there’s really any way to completely contain it.
Here’s a shot of the area we are working with:
The ground slopes gently down from our house to the south (at left in this photo) and, just outside of the photo at left, it takes a more steep decline. The neighbor’s house sits probably about 4 feet below ours.
Additionally, the ground then slopes down at the front of both our homes, quite precipitously. Here’s a shot of the front of the houses:
In the photo above, if you were to head around the corner of our house to the right, you would be looking at the view in the top picture.
Now that we are oriented, let’s talk about the details. We decided to tier the entire slope, with a few stops along the way, to slow down the water.
The first thing we did was to pile up some soil against the house to make sure any water dripping down the walls would head away from our foundation, not into the basement. Then I planted some hydrangeas along the wall of the house.
Next we built a retaining wall along the property line. We used local field stone from a dismantled wall at another part of the property and dry stacked the stone about 1.5 feet high. I back-filled the wall with peat moss, compost, and top soil with the idea of creating a sort of mini-rain garden that would soak up a mass of water during rain. I planted it with some random perennials scavenged from other spots. Later I’ll give this area more thought as to what sort of plantings I want.
Next we laid stepping stones above grade just down the middle of the pathway. We leveled them with soil dug up from a ditch we are digging along the back of the house (more on that later), sand, and gravel. We also filled in between the stepping stones so that there is a complete barrier for the water. This was our first tier.
Below are shots of the stepping stones, first looking north and then looking south.
Next we filled in the channel between the planted bed next to the house and the new stepping stones. We used chunky bark nuggets. I should note that these are not the easiest things to walk on but that’s what we used. The first photo is looking north and the second looking south.
Next we were ready to work on the next side of the path. To create another slow down before the sloping hill, we added some long straight logs which we held in place with soil on both sides. Here are pictures of that. You can see that there is yet another channel between the logs and the stepping stones that can hold and absorb water. We will fill that with bark nuggets.
The first two pictures are of the pathway looking north and the second two are looking south.
In this last photo, you can really see how much the ground slopes off toward the neighbor’s property.