My back yard has some wet spots near the corner of my house. Because of property lines, fences, and window wells for my basement, it's hard to dramatically change the surface drainage of the area. I'm considering putting in a plastic drain box and perforated pipe that will tie into the storm sewer system.

What things should I be careful of when doing this? Should I consider just doing a French drain which does not tie into the storm sewer? Should I dig a trench, line with small rock, then lay in the corrugated, perforated pipe?

I'd really hate to do all the work of burying the pipe only to discover I didn't do it right.

  • 5
    Call that "Call Before You Dig" number. In our area it is 811, but I don't know if that is a nationwide thing. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 20:04
  • Micky, that's really good advice. You should put that as an answer and not just a comment!
    – JD Long
    Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


I've only done the french drain thing; I have no idea what would be required with tying into a storm sewer; you'd likely want to contact the local government and/or water company to ask.

Anytime you're digging, you'll want to be aware of where underground utilities are. In the DC area, you call 'Miss Utility', and they'll mark out everything. (I think technically, you're not required if you're digging by hand, but it's still a good idea).

You might also want to take a look at what large trees are nearby, as you might have to deal with roots -- you can cut them as you go, but that might end up killing the tree or weakening it so it sheds branches, and large branches falling on your house or car is not a good thing. (especially when you have no power, so get trapped in your (damaged) home).

You'll want to look at what's down-slope of the area you're dealing with, and how much area you have to absorb the water once you move it down there, if you're going the french drain route. If it's an area that already gets pretty marshy after a rain, it's not going to absorb anything, so you'll need to go far enough out 'til you find somewhere that'll take the water. You also don't want to try to force it out near the property line, or you might piss off your neighbors (and if they're lawyers, or just happen to like suing, it could get messy).


And after all of that, you might want to look into if the area's abnormally wet -- one of my friends had problems for years, and dug up his yard multiple times, trying to get everything fixed, redid his basement at least twice because of water damage. And it turned out that there was a broken water pipe next to his house that was saturating the lawn, so any significant rain couldn't be absorbed.


Talk to the city about the storm sewer, many municipalities do not allow draining directly into the storm sewer (although it really seems counter-intuitive).

"Call before you dig." You don't want to hit an electric or TV cable.

Consider creating a large dry-well (like a giant, underground bucket full of gravel) in an out-of-the-way location, and directing your drains to it. Depending on where you put it (along a back fence, perhaps?), you could even make a shallower trench-shaped dry-well, and cover it with decorative gravel to avoid a swampy spot in the lawn.

Certain plants suck up more water than others. Consider planting some bushes or trees that will help absorb excess water from the ground. I've heard particularly good things about a certain species of dogwood bush, but I don't remember which one. Google can probably help you find some good plants for your region.

  • one thing to watch out for with tying in to the storm drain: if the storm drain overflows, it will back up in to your drain. if you do connect it, you definitely need a dry well (it might even be required by your municipality before you can connect) or figure out another way to prevent the drain from overflowing in to your drain.
    – longneck
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 15:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.