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Yard After Drain

Dealing With Spring Flooding, DIY Style

This spring has been a nasty, sloppy, flooded mess for a lot for people in the North Country… us included.

The worst has been our driveway. Rushing water from the hill behind us washed away the ground underneath it, compromising its integrity. This manifested itself first in sinkholes, and then in a partial collapse of our “turn around” area down a slope on the side of our property.

It wasn’t pretty.

To fix this we had to call in the big guns.

A decidedly non-DIY effort.

However, for most of the other problems we experienced, a combination of sweat and creativity seemed to do the trick.

When our basement began taking on water I really had no idea what to do. Pump it out! Right? Sounds so easy. But I’ve never done anything like this before, and certainly don’t own a pump.

And a round of visits to local hardware stores confirmed that I wasn’t the only one having this problem… pumps were completely sold out.

So we decided to attempt this the hard way… via a two person bucket chain. Thankfully, after only passing a few buckets between us, it dawned on me… I DO own a pump.

Several, actually. And they happen to be moving large amounts of water for me every single day… in my fish tank!

It was just a matter of grabbing one of those pumps, jimmy rigging it to some aquarium tubing, and then dragging it all down to the basement.

Very MacGyver, don’t you think? Well, maybe if MacGyver were a fish geek who lived in the mountains…

On a side note, Jess can never again complain about all the aquarium equipment I buy!

Alas, basement water was not the only challenge we decided to tackle ourselves. The wet spring was also making a soggy mess of our front yard and, we believe, was contributing to the basement leakage. So we took a stab at fixing that as well.

We settled on building a pair of French Drains.

A French Drain is, more or less, a trench filled with stone or gravel that is designed to redirect water away from an area. A perforated pipe (wrapped in landscape cloth to prevent muddy clogs) is often used to facilitate the process, and most of this material can be easily found at a hardware store.

Pretty straightforward concept.

First you dig the ditch, making sure it slopes away from the water source toward your chosen destination…

Then you fill the bottom of the ditch with some gravel, and lay in the pipe…

Then you figure out how to get your dog out of the ditch…

And finally you back fill the rest of the ditch with gravel, cover with topsoil and plant some grass seed.

It was kind of messy, and a little rough on the back and hands… but with some TLC, here is what it looks like 20 days later.

So far our efforts have paid off. The driveway is holding up, and we’re not the only ones happy about that. Just ask the UPS and Fedex guys who can turn their trucks around again after dropping off a package. Backing down out of our driveway with those trucks didn’t look like much fun. Our lawn is growing back nicely and we no longer have to wade across it… and the basement is dry.

This spring has been an interesting adventure. But we’ve learned a lot and have tried to have fun with it. Now we are hoping for an uneventful summer full of hiking, climbing, and paddling with our friends!

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