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French drain without plastic?

 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 260
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
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Our 1/8 acre urban lot in western New England slopes toward the house; the water tends to collect along a line from the garage to the back door.  I would like to drain this water to the edge of the property, then parallel to the property line toward the street.  

The cheap and easy way to do this would be to use a French drain; the easiest version of that would involve prefab pipe assemblies (plastic pipe surrounded by plastic “rock” surrounded by plastic landscape fabric).

I hate plastic, especially in the soil.

Are there alternatives for moving this water away that don’t rely on burying plastic?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Posts: 6861
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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You might use field drainage tiles made from terracotta, or you could make underground channels from bricks. Surround it with lots of coarse gravel.
 
Anne Miller
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Posts: 14664
Location: USDA Zone 8a
4060
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
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We made French drains for our sink water and our washing machine water.

We did not use any plastic.

We did not use any pipe or landscape fabric.

We dug a trench along the foundation of our house that we filled with rock, then covered with dirt.

We have been using this system for almost ten years.

Similar to this:



https://permies.com/t/1356/french-drain-pipe-water

Erica said, "If you don't have a pipe, the gravel still allows water to flow out as long as your grades are right, but it can't move as much water as quickly.  Your "Paul" drain would probably work; just not as well as the conventional drain.



https://permies.com/t/1356/french-drain-pipe-water#8350
 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 260
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
19
urban
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Anne, thanks.  How deep and wide a trench did you dig, and what kind / size of rocks did you use?  Have you had any issues with silting up?

Since the water collects exactly where a path is, I was also thinking about using flat stones on top to make a paved path, but that might be too wobbly if put on top of drainage rocks.
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Since this was about ten years ago details are a little fuzzy.

We used pea gravel as that is what came with the property.

We bought someone else's dream with an unfinished house.  It was just exterior walls and a roof.

I am thinking we dug down about 3 or 4 feet. Filled that trench with the pea gravel.

Covered that trench with the dirt out of the hole. Then we covered that whole area with the pea gravel.

That side of the house is where I walk the dog. There is no sign of a French drain being there or water.

The previous owner had dug a swallow ditch for some unknown reason about 5 feet from where we put the French drain. Except when it rains I have never seen water in the ditch.

There are a couple of things that might be working in our favor.

1] Our soil is caliche which is a fine powder of crushed limestone. And our climate is dry.

2] There are only two of us so we don't generate a lot of water and I do not have a dishwasher.

What I am thinking is that the gravel and dirt act like a filter to allow the water to drain straight down.

I like your idea of using flat rock on your path.  Maybe a layer of sand on top of the gravel would help.
 
John C Daley
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Posts: 5157
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Cab you give us a photo or 2 please?
 
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Botany Bonanza Bundle by Thomal Elpel
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