Save Your Yard & Foundation With a Dry Well

3 Materials
2 Days
Nothing glamorous, you can't even see it when it's done, but a dry well is a great way to redirect water in your yard.
Luckily for us, the house we bought turns out to have the lowest backyard on the block. Or so it seems to us. When it downpours, we get standing water. Deep water. Like take off your shoes, roll up your pants water.

Be sure to come visit my blog Flipping the Flip for all the details about this project and many more!
After doing some research online, which is very important to do as you do not want to redirect water into places that are even worse, water can be insidious, we opted to dig a dry well. It's essentially a big pit filled with gravel.
I kid you not, this is what we found underground. Uh huh. Nothing like urban neglect.
Anyway. We dug ours 4' x 4' x 36" deep. And wow, next time we will hire people. Wow. It hurt.
Once you've finally finally made it and can't move, line the hole with landscape cloth. This keeps dirt from seeping back into the hole and ruining the whole darn thing.
Next, fill it up with gravel. Just plain ol' nothin' fancy gravel. We had two cubic yards delivered based on the size of our pit to China.
Now, we're not done yet but here it is filled. Suggestions include leaving 6-8" of space between the surface and the gravel but we didn't. Our gravel came with loads of fine grains so we're waiting for it to settle a bit. We can always remove gravel if need be. Next steps are to cover the gravel with sand then replace the grass.

It works by collecting water, filtering it through the gravel, then dispersing it underground. C'mon, let it rain so we can watch it work!

All in all, not a complicated project in the least. Just a ton of ouch-ie manual labor. Come on by the blog by clicking the link below for this story and much much more!
Suggested materials:
  • Landscape cloth   (Menards)
  • Gravel   (local material seller)
  • Sand   (Menards)
Becky at Flipping the Flip
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 9 questions
  • Dhgrimes1950 Dhgrimes1950 on Jun 18, 2016
    I would like to know if you did this project to keep water out of your basement? And if so did it do the trick? Thanks for the idea. I have just enough water coming into my basement to be very annoying and will find a cardboard box no matter where I set one :-(

  • James Yeah James Yeah on Jul 18, 2018

    How’s this working today and is there anything you’d do differently

  • Bruce Bruce on Mar 18, 2019

    This is one type of containment system I am debating. The other is using NDP plastic fill landscape wrapped tubes 15 inch diameter, sunk vertically in our low spot area. Four or six of these, drilled down about 5 feet with 6-12 sand, soil, and sod or grass seed. Anyone tried this? Thanks.

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  • Amy Patterson Buchert Amy Patterson Buchert on Jun 25, 2020

    The back flow valves are expensive and they clog up and cause even more trouble! Unfortunately we know this first hand! My husband and son won’t be happy with all the digging but this sounds like a great option for us!! Thank you!

    • Indeed, back flow valves are very expensive. I didn’t know though that they can clog, thanks for that info. Great, I hope this project helps you! Thanks!

  • Mrr49571309 Mrr49571309 on Sep 19, 2021

    You would get more leaching back into the ground with washed stone. That means no fines. I would put a mixture of M89 and 57 stones. They are just 2 different sizes. Make sure to cover the top with fabric to keep soil out. Replant grass and add soil after natural compaction.