Landscaping & Design/Need ideas


My climate zone is 2A.
My property and the neighbouring ones on my street all have a gentle slope that drains into city property bordering a roadway.
My backyard is lower than the ones on either side. After heavy rains, the water from both houses drains into my yard.
A couple years ago I thought I had fixed the problem by building up the soil level. This Spring year has been one of the wettest on records and the water problem is back but not as bad.
I dont feel like adding more soil again. To do this before I had to remove part of the fence. I have since built a new fence, and my wife has added some nice flower beds and garden.
Last week I hand dug a trench along each neighbours fence to the lowest point at my back fence. About 3' wide by 20' long.
This has worked well, and my kids love playing boats in the water.I dont like the idea of standing water, so need some ideas for landscaping these trenches.
My thoughts are to rake grass and leaves into the trenches until it builds up,hopefully still able to drain, or can I plant something in there?
Thanks for any thoughts!


I would first look into draining the water away to an outlet. If the outlet would be on city property you will have to apply for a permit to drain to it. Perhaps you could install a perforated drain pipe and cover it with soil and gravel and create a large french drain.

Another option may be to create an underground retention area. This could be a concrete or plastic vault,an area of gravel or other permeable media or a series of large diamter corrugated pipe. The surrounding soil would have to be permeable enough and of sufficient volume to absorb the drainage water or you an outlet will be needed to drain the water to. This would allow you to plant over the area.  I would not recommend using leaves for water retention. That could produce odor and attract pests.

An at grade retention area consisting of stones or gravel covered with soil may be an option if the surrounding soil is permeable enough to accept the drainage water or can be piped or channeled to another suitable outlet.

A planted or rock lined drainage ditch leading to an outlet could be another option. Construct the ditch in a V shape. You want to either drain the water away to an outlet or make structures that will allow the water to drain away into the surrounding soil.  Just ponding the water is not desirable. The water must drain away in 48 to 72 hours. Hope this helps. Good luck.

Mark Harshman  

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Design of landscape structures and design of planting arrangements in the landscape. I usually do not answer questions of a horticultural nature or about growing plants or gardening unless they are related to design. I will answer these questions at my discretion. I will answer maintenance questions at my discretion,usually when they are related to design. I am a landscape designer. I am not a contractor or a gardener. Although I will describe how something is built I do not provide detailed installation or construction instructions. Here are example categories of problems I can help you with: Design of residential walks,low walls,low retaining walls,fences,drainage systems,arbors,plant selection,xeriscapes (low water use landscapes),rain garden design,rain water harvesting,permeable paving,sustainable drainage. No advise on an architectural or engineering level. I DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DESIGN WORK THROUGH THIS SITE. I only provide suggestions and advice. For more comprehensive help check out my website at:


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