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swales close to the house foundation

Posts: 58
Location: Frederick, Maryland
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I've got a riddle. I am always encouraging folks to harvest the water on their landscapes with swales on contour where probable. Often times in suburbia the yards are slanting toward the house and foundation. Even if a swale on contour is created 20 or 30' away the pluming water could well reach and seep into the foundation. Does anyone know or have experience of how to position or limit swales close to foundations? Most often there is not another area around houses to divert the rainwater with a french drain or swale off contour without losing it or dumping it on a neighbor.

Posts: 3764
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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That is because the contractor was lazy or cheap and didn't backfill properly, plus the homeowner didn't know better to fix it 5 years later. It should ALWAYS slope away from the home.

Then you build micro-swales closer to the house, or woody beds that put the wood DOWN.

A woody pit with a raised bed above is remarkably useful in poor draining soil (typical suburbia built on clay). It works just like a giant earthbox self-watering planter box.
Posts: 2719
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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My house lays pretty much on a hillside and all the erosion from uphill ends up messing with the water coming off the roof. The houses' previous owner never bothered to grade the land away from the house so I've spent the better part of 3 weekends shoveling and hauling soil from one side of the house to the other. I've created a swale which diverts water away from the back of the house and into a small pond. All of the water that comes off of the front of the house is slowed down by a swale about 20 feet in front of the house. That way the water slowly infiltrates into the gardens in front of the house. Basically I have a moat on two sides on my house. Doing this has eliminated all the water that used to get into the basement during the spring thaw.
Posts: 95
Location: Seattle, WA
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I'm not sure if I should post a somewhat similar situation here or start a new thread. Similarity is drainage issues close to house foundation.

I'm in a truly urban setting, and down in a hole of sorts, with bad drainage problems, and the lowest points next to the house. Incredibly poor design.

Its a corner lot, with a major road on one side, a large school on the side connecting to the school, then a residential street and another residence on the other sides. The major street slopes but is on a retaining wall 2 to 6' above the level of my property. The 6' high end begins the school side of the property which is that 6' above my property and about 15' at the other end, which is over a 140' length. That's a solid concrete retaining wall on that long and very high side.

My property below that is a quite flat, only between 1 to 2' variation in level, measured with laser, over about 140x110' lot, and with the lowest point right next to the house, which does collect water. We put down pallets as a winter boardwalk, its bad.

There are 2 houses, small, 30x30' each, about 60' from that giant retaining wall in back, and <20' from residential street in front. Sideyards are minimal, 5-15' between houses and unattached carports. We collect and use a fair amount of roof rainwater, run more of it into 2 raingardens in the fronts. But clearly we have a drainage problem that comes more from our low spot situation.

The best idea I've come up with yet, would be to dig a low spot in the back yards, at least 30' from the houses, a sort of seasonal pond with cattails and blueberries. But there is a very large Deodar there leaving only about 60 x 80' area to work with, another very large Shiro plum tree, and wanting to keep as much garden space as possible.

And overflow from that low spot, new seasonal pond... there's not a good place that I can see for it to go, it would overflow back into the low spot next to the house, although it would be less than now under our pallet boardwalk. <g>

I did quick sketch, the contour lines are only elevation changes of about 6" but enough to have standing water. Digging down about 3' hits hardpan that required a jackhammer when attempted. Grid is approx 2'

So... creative minds and Holzer water management gurus, your ideas for this situation?
[Thumbnail for Basic-Lot-drainage-contours-labeled.jpg]
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