So my backyard is showing some heavy pooling issues. I am in Southern Maine, USA

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The lowest point (picture 1) is, unfortunately pretty close to the garage pier foundation, and when the water pools it includes two of the pillars.

My thought is to dig out an area where Picture 3 shows the center of the swale and digging out to the left to move the water away from the building and provide an additional feature to the landscape. This would also involve backfilling some of the area nearest the building to ensure the water is moving away.

1) Would a solution be to dig out an area to be a pond (either a retention basin or a infiltration basin - Link: Nomenclature reference ), and put in a small channel system to move all the water from the other pictures spot into it?

2) The lowest point is also near an out-of-use dug well. Would this cause any additional obstacle? Can you incorporate a dug well into a pond?

Some comments asked about the well. The dug well is the brick structure in picture 1 and is out of use. My neighbors and I all used deep drilled wells to pull from the lower aquifer for our water supply. We also all have personal septic tanks and leach fields.

The land behind the house is a four acre field, but due to the mound for the septic leaching, the slop declines towards the yard, causing the natural swales to form.

I hope to refine the question, perhaps with a little feed back because I am out of my milieu.

  • 2
    draining the surface water into a well would contaminate the underground water table and may foul other people's drinking supply
    – jsotola
    Apr 6, 2020 at 21:38
  • I agree with jsotola+ surface water getting into a “dug” well can cause life threatening contamination. I had a neighbor almost died there well casing allowed surface water in. We were lucky large country lots and there well was not next to ours. How deep is the well? Is it in use? Lots of questions but a pond probably not a good idea, look into a French drain if you have some slope you can work with.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 6, 2020 at 22:39
  • Cross-posted to Gardening & Landscaping: gardening.stackexchange.com/q/51126/26
    – Niall C.
    Apr 7, 2020 at 23:29

3 Answers 3


I don't think that digging a pond will help

The water is where it's at and the soil is saturated like a wet sponge, removing dirt for clear open water, aka a pond, is just removing the dirt in the pond, it won't change the water level.

These days the construction of houses take lot drainage into consideration but that was not the case for your older house. It looks like the surrounding area tends to slope right to your house and the low spot is at the deepest water.

Other Ways to Deal With The Water

In the picture it looks like your yard slopes down hill to a forest. You need to get water to a place lower than where it is currently, and the forest, if lower than your lowest spot near the house, is a great place for it. You would need to slope downhill to it at least 1/4" per foot of length

  1. Dig a channel and leave it open, maybe gently slope the sides to make it look good like a old small valley or depression
  2. Dig a ditch and put in a drainage pipe and cover it up. Place a catch basin attached to the pipe low spot near the house
  3. To deal with it one-off style each season, rent or buy a pump and collapsible hose and pump the water over to the forest
  • 2
    Filling a ditch with pipe and rock is a French drain and would be a good solution if they own to the down hill slope.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 6, 2020 at 21:44
  • French drain is where I was going to go. Only issue other than land ownership is you will probably have to cut through higher ground to get the flow down the slope. A drainage pipe as Ack suggests might be the best option. +1
    – HoneyDo
    Apr 6, 2020 at 22:07
  • Surely and empty space can hold more water than the same space filled with dirt, no? As in I can put more water in an empty glass than a glass packed with dirt. Understand the concept that the water level is even and marks the ground water surface, but with more room I’m hoping to move the ground water to one dug out area.
    – PV22
    Apr 7, 2020 at 15:02
  • Don’t Farmers use this method for agriculture irrigation and stock watering holes?
    – PV22
    Apr 7, 2020 at 15:05
  • @PV22 while it is true a pond would hold more water, consider then there would also be more water to hold, therefore the result is the same: the water is at that level not because that is all the water, but because that is all the water that depression will hold, the rest has overflowed and run down hill and away from the area. That would happen with or without the pond. This is the why for my answers, we are in effect lowering the top of the 'overflow' therefore lowering the top of the water level
    – Ack
    Apr 7, 2020 at 17:32

I am going to skip the pond talk and all that because that diverts us from the real problem.

You must change the grading by the house. You should not have dips that start at the foundation blocks. You haven't shown us other pictures but for this particular area I would fill it with a ton of dirt and grade it out slowly to the yard - could probably stop it at the firepit or whatever that big circular thing is.

This is easy and cheap and often you can find someone looking to unload dirt. I think creating draining (french drains, pond system, whatever) is just asking for a lot of maintenance. You have a lot of land, there is no reason you should have to worry about stuff like that. You grade correctly by your house once and enjoy.


It's hard to tell without topography indicated on a plat, but I'd probably settle for a combination of a corrugated drainage pipe and/or digging a artificial, directed swale down the obvious slope in your backyard. A swale needn't be deep like a ditch as long as you follow the contours of the turf, you can even mow it with relative ease and it will blend in. You'd only need to use a drainage box and a run of pipe starting with a packed in 3/4" and landscaping fabric if you had to take the water through a high point reducing the amount of pipe needed. They even have a prefab french drain tube. It looks like from the picture, however, that the natural swale you already have might not be that much lower than earth trapping it up hill avoiding the need for pipe at all.

  • The pooling water is causing a natural swale. I was considering deepening into a pond.
    – PV22
    Apr 7, 2020 at 22:30
  • @pv22 You title says drainage. How would a pond possibly lower the water table?
    – J D
    Apr 8, 2020 at 0:36
  • By providing a larger open space for the water to collect as it filters through the ground. If the top water is collected, and doesn’t overflow the depth of the pond, the surrounding water table would be even to the surface level of the pond.
    – PV22
    Apr 8, 2020 at 1:10
  • @PV22 I see. So you are considering creating a basin at a distance from your house and then channeling it from the swale nearby to the basin? If that's the case, it's going to depend on the topology of the surrounding lots. If you're on the top of the hill, that'll work, however, if the water that pools around your footing is coming from an elevation, say across the street which is at a higher grade, then you'll just wind up with a swale at your footing and a full pond while the water level is adequate. Topsoil is relatively porous, and even if you can't see flow, any saturation uphill....
    – J D
    Apr 8, 2020 at 1:23
  • 1
    will percolate through that soil. Depending on the volume of water based on frequency and the topology, if you're looking to keep your footing dry, you can use a length of french drain in a channel uphill from your footing if you're on a gradual slope and run it around the side so that water takes the channel instead of percolates and pools around the house. But all of that is subject to detail. If you had a plat survey with some elevation indicated, it might be useful.
    – J D
    Apr 8, 2020 at 1:26

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