Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oui, Oui, Baby... but not like old Pa-reeeeee

As some of you noted in the comments of the previous post, you were not sure exactly what a "french drain" is.

Don't feel bad, Gentle Reader. I had no idea what a "french drain" was before recent events prompted the (very expensive) installation of one...

It's been raining here. And raining. And raining some more. Local meteorologists have been all agog at the "record rainfall" and the fact that in the last three months, we have more than fulfilled our annual average amount of liquid precipitation.

Now, as sick and tired as you are of *hearing* about this remodel, just ponder for a moment how sick and tired we are of *living in it*. We have had more weather-related delays on this project than we could have or would have ever imagined. What should have taken six months at the most will now probably take a full year to completion.

One of the side effects of remodeling is that our back yard is, for all intents and purposes, a barren muddy landscape. Our contractor did his best to keep the damage to a minimum, but so much heavy equipment has been required that literally the grass was just pounded into the mud. With warmer weather, some of it is trying to grow again, struggling valiantly to work back through the heavy clay soil. Ordinarily, we would have leveled the dirt once, broadcast some grass seed, watered it, and watched it fill in during the course of the summer. The runoff from the rain wouldn't have been a problem because the soil/mud/clay would have been covered with grass, and the rain would have just run on down the hill towards the south, and everyone would have lived happily ever after.


The rain - so persistent and frequent - has eliminated any hope of doing things the "ordinary" way. Because the sweeping curve of our street is higher at the north end, and lower at the south end, our yard drains from the higher north side down to the lower south side as well. It isn't a dramatic slope; it *seems* very gentle, and barely noticeable. Until it rains, of course.

When it rains, the water wants to naturally flow southward. The house sits nearly squarely in the center of the lot. The water was pooling on the north side, due in part to the trenches created by the heavy equipment that has traversed our yard several times.

When I say "pooling", what I really mean is "ponding". And when I say "ponding", what I should have said was "creating a small, inland ocean".

We thought about building a marina, and selling tickets for a cruise through the back yard. In retrospect, it might have been easier. And certainly it would have been cheaper than installing the "french drain".

But, our contractor was adamant that installing the "french drain" would be just the solution we needed. Not only would it [a] eliminate the need for a marina just inside our back gate, but it would also (2) allow the rainwater from the gutters installed on the house to be whisked away underground, which would also {C} use the rainwater from the gutters on the house to keep the drain washed out and lemony-fresh.

Well, color me happy if it all works as advertised.

The drain goes aaaaaallllllll the way from the way farthest part of the back yard clear out to the street, where it ducks under the sidewalk, and empties into the gutter along the street. At first, I was worried about this last little feature - as happy as I was to drain the inland ocean, and reclaim a bit of the yard... I didn't want to flood the street, or overwhelm the storm drain that the street gutter dumps in to.

Happily, my worrying was all for naught. Everything works just as it is supposed to.

Imagine that...


Chuck said...

I researched French drains on Wikipedia after I read your last entry. They look kind of cool, but I can see how they would be expensive.

Hope your remodel gets finished soon and everyone lives happily ever after.

Suldog said...

Well! Thanks for the info! I'm glad to hear the things actually work. It's about time something went totally and lovingly right for you!

Rurality said...

Oh dear, what a time you've been having!

Anybody who already knows what a French Drain is has probably had a similar problem! (My parents did.)

Karen said...

I am glad to know that the USS Thimbelle didn't actually set sail.

Suldog said...

Hi, Thim!

Thanks so much for the kind offer concerning Dorothy.

If you'll trust me to deliver whatever you wish to her, my address is 93 Winsor Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472. If you would rather send something directly to her, drop me a line at and I'll send you her mailing address. I'd rather not put it out in public. You never know what nutjob might latch onto it and do something I'd regret.

Suldog said...

Also, I joined your battle over at Stu's place. I love Stu, but I think he's dead wrong on this one.

Suldog said...

Happy Birthday, Thim!