I am on a corner lot and my backyard receives water runoff from my neighbor behind me and my neighbor beside me. I have a french drain installed where the backyards come together and didn't have much of an issue, but then I installed a fence on a downsloping part of my backyard that presented some water pooling issues (see thread here). I was able to get the fence company and come out to shave off an inch or so of the fence on the problematic area, but I still feel like I will need to help this area with drainage as much as possible since water will always continue to flow this direction.

Here is a quick mockup of how the water affects my backyard as well as some draining issues I have in place.

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The yellow square is a basin that routes to the street. It does a good job with most of the water that comes from my neighbors yards, however I still have issues with natural runoff. The good thing I notice is that it runs along the backside of the fence, into the back right corner, and then flows down to the closer right corner (blue arrows). The area between the back of my trees and fence line has become somewhat of a valley allowing for water to flow through it. I will likely build a dry creek bed for this, but I also feel like this is an opportunity to do a river rock type of border along the fence that might help, but I don't really know anything about landscaping.

Problem: Water flows (and sometimes pools) on my fence line.

Question(s): Would installing a river rock border help alleviate this at all? Would excavating the grass and playing river rock down be a solution, or would an actual trench need to be dug? If a trench is dug and there's also a gap under the fence, how can I keep rocks from falling out of my yard?

  • 1
    They've build a dam not a fence. It appears to have been installed far too close to the ground and so it blocks drainage.
    – jwh20
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 15:55
  • Maybe dig a hole in the dirt under the fence to see if it drains. Fixing it for real depends on how much elevation you have to work with. You might be able to use some field tile to move the water, but it depends.
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 15:59
  • 1
    A) Did the fencing company only adjust the fence along one side or the whole thing? Even if the tails of the pickets aren't sitting in a pool of water, if they're in contact with the ground they'll rot far sooner than they should. B) Did you have pooling issues before the fence was installed? If not, and if the fencing has proper clearance to the ground, you shouldn't have drainage issues now unless there were additional landscape changes made at the same time.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 16:13
  • @jwh20 OP addressed that issue in the linked question.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 16:14
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    Yes they just cut an inch off the bottom of the fence last weekend and it has yet to rain so we will see. These issues were NOT present before fence installation. Hoping that the clearance will now allow water to pass. My question really stems from how to handle it going forward. Whether it pools or not is up in the air but I need to do some sort of landscaping at the edge anyway since the grass won’t grow. Really wondering if a river rock border will solve the aesthetic issue/aid in draining Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


The answer is a french drain running along the back fence to the street. A french drain is simply an open conduit that allows water to drain into the conduit from the top allowing you to channel it to a desirable location. Typically it has gravel and/or rock over it which will allow the drainage of water into the channel.
You want to be carefull not to compromise the fencing piers in digging the trench to channel the water. There are many ways of doing one all readily available online any of which should get the job done for you. Since you have a natural slope to the street it shouldn't require extensive excavation. In your post you weren't clear on how the water from the basin in your drawing is channeled to the street. If it's perforated pvc it could be incorporated into the french drain or it could be constructed alongside.

  • That French drain runs from the back left corner of my yard out onto the street via perforated PVC. It handles a lot of the neighbor runoff, but natural runoff that lands on my yard goes down the back of my yard to the back right and then Ultimately the front right. Are you saying that installing another French drain would solve the issue? If so, I’m sure it would but I’m really looking for a cost effective solution that also will add some landscaping to increase the aesthetic of it all. Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 18:58
  • Landscaping is usually costly unless you do it yourself. Although somewhat labor intensive, french drains can be highly aesthetic when incorporated into landscaping and it need not be expensive. Draw up what you envision for that area. Once the drain is in you can do the rest a section at a time. River rock is very attractive and functional in constructing a french drain. Trees and attractive foliage can be installed in sections as you can afford it. But start with a plan.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 21:11

Fence-line Drainage SolutionHere is my “minimum-effort” solution to deal with the shared fence line along my upslope neighbor’s yard. It is, essentially, an open French drain. STEP 1: Remove the sod layer near the fence. STEP 2: Ensure the surface slopes adequately towards the street. STEP 3: (Optional) arrange interlocking concrete pickets along the fence side of the depression to separate the drain from the wooden fence. STEP 4: Line the depression with double-thick WeedBlock. STEP 5: Arrange a single layer of cobbles to fill the depression.

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