How to solve flooding issues with sloped backyard?

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Our backyard slopes towards the house pretty significantly (hard to tell in the picture because of all of the snow!). In September, our house flooded four times and destroyed our finished basement. We just had a contractor out who said he doubts that we'd be able to do a yard swale because it's far too sloped for it. He thought maybe we could have a landscaper bore holes through the tile area near the garage so that it drains to the front (we see a lot of people in town with PVC pipes draining to the street).

We'd like to landscape the backyard to help with the water issues come spring. My husband is a competitive bodybuilder so labor is not an issue...we just need some direction. I appreciate any advice!

q how to solve flooding issues with sloped backyard

Water tends to pool near the garage where there's tile.

  15 answers
  • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Feb 26, 2019

    This looks a lot like our neighborhood, right down to the houses! We live in a very hilly neighborhood, We live on a hill two ways, west to east and south to north. Our hills are high enough in our yard that there are three steep tiers, one in front that the house sits on and two in the back yard. At the bottom of the first of the two in the back yard is an indentation that runs along the whole bottom of the hill and allows the spring thaw, rain, etc. to flow down the hill from our neighbors on one side to the neighbors on the other side going down that west/east hill. We just have to make sure that ice doesn't build up on the depression and start looking too bad. We also have a slight down hill angle on the soil running from the house to the depression. We have lived here for over four years and have never had water in the basement yet.

    • See 3 previous
    • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Feb 28, 2019

      The house is on its own flat tier and has a slight downward slope away from the house. The entire neighborhood is on steep hills and water flows down from the top to the bottom each spring which is the only time we have much trouble with water coming into and out of the yard. Every house seems to have the same little channel at the bottom of the second tier. I wish I could have that kind of showcase back yard, but the four dogs would have it in tatters in no time chasing after the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. I had to fashion an eight foot fence just to keep them out of the veggie garden at the top corner of the top tier.

  • Oliva Oliva on Feb 26, 2019

    Most municipalities have codes on the books prohibiting you draining water from your property on that of your neighbor's. Sounds as though you need some French drain systems installed, along with terracing of your rear yard. If the water can be diverted underground, to empty within 4' -8' of the front of your property, you should remain in compliance. Water should never discharge within 10' of your foundation, in case of severe rains/flash flooding.

    Some areas now require permits for French drains. Check with your locality before proceeding.

    Add some larger trees 30' away from your home's foundation at the back of your oroperty, if that's an option. You'll also need to see if soil amendment would help, because heavy clay is problemmatic, where water is concerned.

    Best to consult a landscape engineer for specific advice. Adding a gutter helmet to your house will eliminate your need to clean out gutters from leaves and debris.

    When completed, call your insurance company to advise of upgrades/improvements, which may lower your home owner's insurance rates.

  • Shore grandmom Shore grandmom on Feb 26, 2019

    You've gotten some good suggestions. I would definitely give them a try. Also, make sure your gutters have long extensions on them to get any rain or melting snow as far away from your house as you can.

  • Catherine Deirdre Rodden Catherine Deirdre Rodden on Feb 27, 2019

    I would definitely talk to a landscaper about having the yard graded as well as french drains installed at the same time.

    If you see the water is draining into your low laying yard from the hill, consider building a retaining wall - short but decorative - with a channel for water to flow around the house into the street.

  • Brenda Groff Brenda Groff on Feb 27, 2019

    I would add elevated gardens if possible around the house that are higher against the house than away, shaped like a triangle. Put plastic against the house, as well as drainage pipes with holes drilled on top side, (under plastic) to catch any water and divert around house. It will look attractive and help with your water problem at the same time. Also, make sure to mulch these raised beds, so dirt runoff doesn't become a problem with rains.

  • Leah Leah on Feb 27, 2019

    French drains. Look on utube to learn how to do it. They are a u shaped area with the open end of you in front of house. Starts with a two foot deep trench around house in u shape. Buy french drain seepege corragated pipe and trench should be wide enough to fit pipe in. On top of pipe add pea gravel up to a foot. Leave enough room for dirt to grow grass.This stops dirt from getting in the slits of the pipe.This pie comes in sections and rolls. The end of the pipe should be open to drain out water. In front. Check it every year to make sure it doesnot get clogged at open end. You can rent a trencher or a mini hoe to dig trench.

  • Che30001531 Che30001531 on Feb 27, 2019

    You could ask various landscapers if they could put in a deep retaining wall on the house side of a swale or valley in front of that deck and those emerging trees. That could drain to a rain garden. They could waterproof the retaining wall on the swale side (like a basement), maybe. Then you could do lots of things with that wall: seating around the tree planting area (with a stone pathway?); ledge for potted plants, etc. There is a ton of info on rain gardens on the webs. We planted one to catch neighbor's storm drainage last summer. In our area, it is illegal to drain stormwater to the street, and they can make you dig it up, so check your codes. HTH!


    • Che30001531 Che30001531 on Feb 27, 2019

      Or! Maybe tier your backyard? Each with a french drain out of the yard, maybe to a rain garden in the front on the side we can sort of see in your photo?

  • Karen Dunnam Karen Dunnam on Feb 27, 2019

    Google the phrase "dry creek." It looks easy to do, and not pricey at all. One comment I saw was along the lines of, "we dug out the creek area, and used the soil to fill in low spots near the house."


    Also, rain gutters.

  • Rymea Rymea on Feb 27, 2019

    You need to have the backyard regraded so the water will run around your house to the street. You would have lowers areas for the water to run into and then out to the street, built up areas around the foundation and berms where needed to keep the water away from the house.

  • Jen Jen on Feb 27, 2019

    Wow!how could anyone build on this type of yard without putting in a sump pump?! You definitely need to have the yard regraded ,too. I t is expensive but will worth it.get a professional (s)opion(s).

  • Joy Joy on Feb 27, 2019

    Plant a Weeping Willow tree! They are natures way to soak up any area in your yard where you have excess water. A friend of mine had the same problem. She was sceptical when I first told her about the magic of the Weeping Willow water sucker upper 😀But after she planted her one magical tree the problem was completely solved! That was 15 years ago.... all is still working well!

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Feb 27, 2019

    Have to fix the grade. This would involve removing the deck and putting window wells on the basement windows. Then add soil and sod.

  • Rbr8807250 Rbr8807250 on Feb 27, 2019

    You could always make a small burm around your garage and problem areas to divert water away from them!

  • DesertRose DesertRose on Feb 28, 2019

    we had a similar situation and put in French drains around the house (that emptied on top of the ground into our small orchard) and also around our garage. It took all the water away from washing around the house. Also we built up the dirt a little so the yard was higher against the foundation and sloped out about 6 feet which is where we put the drains. It made a huge impact on our yard and the trees loved the extra watering!

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Feb 28, 2019

    A French drain or weeping tile is a trench filled with gravel or rock or containing a perforated pipe that redirects surface water and groundwater away from an area. A French drain can have perforated hollow pipes along the bottom to quickly vent water that seeps down through the upper gravel or rock. https://plantcaretoday.com/how-to-install-a-french-drain-or-dry-well.html You should install them about 3-4ft from your basement walls along back of the house running along side to front of house out into street/driveway