06:42PM | 10/30/01
Member Since: 10/29/01
2 lifetime posts
I have a a couple, regarding a house-skirt I'd like to get finished this fall. I've asked a few local landscape centers (maybe the wrong place to go for advice?) about these issues and haven't really gotten any real feedback.

Over the past 2 years we've been preparing our basement for finishing it off. The main issue has been to stop water from coming in (the previous owners, for some inexplainable reason had the yard sloping TOWARDS the foundation, and, of course, water problems because of that).

We spent last summer re-grading the yard (with soil and grass) and running gutters out further and we've reduced to the water infiltration to 3 minor spots. One spot is due to a poorly poured sidewalk.

The other two spots are at the two corners of the house. One, on the south side, gets most of the gutter run-off from one side of the house. The one on the back side (north) never sees the sun, so during long periods of rain, the ground becomes saturated.

I'm planning on fixing these two spots by skirting the house with rock and drainage tiles, which will run down the front hill towards street level--which is below the basement floor level (the front yard of our house slopes down about 7 feet towards the street). This should prevent the ground from becoming saturated along the house. It will also extending the gutter run-off by about 15 feet.

The skirt will go around half of the house from the rear, around the east side, and around part of the front. It will be 4-6 feet out from the side of the house. At the front of the house, they will connect with the gutters, and I will run a large 'pipe' underground down the hill in front to connect with the future drainage tile and drain system behind the retaining wall. (I'm still debating if I should run the drain out onto the sidewalk, as everyone else in the neighborhood does, or try to do the 'green' thing and actually install a dry-well when I re-do the retaining wall next summer).

Anyways, my questions:

1) I was told that instead of using plastic as a base for the skirt, that I should use industrial (commercial?) neoprene fabric. Bolt one side to the house foundation, and cover with rock. The problem is that every landscaping place I go to, they have never heard of such a material (they all recommend plastic). Is this a real thing? Anyone know where to find it? Alternatively, I was told that I shoudl use Pond Liner instead.

2) Drainage tile. Any thoughts? It appears the two main materials are perforated PVC (the white stuff) and the corrugated black stuff. I'm thinking the PVC would be better, as there is no corrugation to collect sediment (keeping it cleaner). Alternatively, is there a suitable surface-drainage solution (something like the curb along the road, or maybe a half-pipe drain acting like a gutter). It would seem to me that a surface-type drainage system would be easier to maintain and monitor for effectiveness.


Jay J

03:48AM | 10/31/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi homerj,

WOW! That's one heck of a Post! You're certainly on the right track of doing the job right. Since you did write a lot, I'll try to address your questions. If I happen to miss anything, just post back with, "Well, what about da-da-da-da-da ..." OK?

RE: The wall that leaks where there's a sidewalk - W/O seeing it I have to assume that it slopes towards the house. With that, no matter what you do to 'fix' that sidewalk-separation or bad slopage, water will still collect there in your 'best case, worst case' scenario. If water collects there (but doesn't get into the basement), it WILL get into the basement over time because of freezing and thawing. You either have to have the sidwalk fixed or you have to kinda 'allow' the water into the basement, and put in a perimeter drainage system. I don't like my latter suggestion because that invites other problems down the road. In short, you want to FIX the problem (by possibly getting a new sidwalk); not put a 'bandaid' on it (by installing a perimeter drain.)

RE: The Sidwalk (again) - You didn't mention if it's right up against the house, has a 'garden' between it and the house, and/or slopes towards the foundation. Nor did you mention what's on the other side of the sidewalk. Knowing these things may spawn new ideas. Come back on this if you want any ideas.

Very good in that you regraded and extended your downspouts. Now, what do you do w/all that water??? Yes, since this water is saturating your landscaping EVEN though it's sloped away from the foundation, you need to get rid of it. If you have enough slopeage where the extended downspouts currently 'termintate', you only need to bury the piping such that the TOP of the pipe is about 6" below ground. Even if you live in an area where the ground freezes, again, if there's enough slopeage, the drain tile doesn't have to be below frost line. HOWEVER, if you can only bury your tile where it slopes the MINIMUM of 1/4" per foot, then you want to install the pipe at that slopeage until you hit frostline. (The rest of the run of the pipe can be fairly level since the water won't freeze down there and it will 'rise' a little to drain out. Just make sure your pipe doesn't drain BACKWARDS, and you'll be fine.)

RE: Perforated vs. non-perforated - It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Since you have a LOT of water, and have a past 'history' of water in the basement, I'd use non-perforated pipe. This will take ALL the water away. RE: Flexible vs. non-flexible - Well, that depends on the terrain you're digging into. If it's rocky and/or you have 'obsticles' to go around or over or under (like roots or other piping or the like), then you use the flexible piping. If you have a straight run, go w/the solid pipe. If you go w/the solid pipe, be sure to use the pipe that's rated for Below Ground Use. (There are a few types so just get the right kind. DWV pipe, or the like.)

So, dig your trench first to accommodate 3" of 1/2" crushed stone ESPECIALLY if all or part of the pipe is being installed AT or ABOVE frost line. (This will help handle the 'movement' in ground that moves when it freezes and thaws.) First, lay in your Filter Fabric or Landscape Fabric (NOT Weed Block Fabric), THEN lay in the 3" of gravel. Then, lay in your piping, then cover the pipe again until it's 1" below the top of the pipe. Then, wrap the gravel and pipe w/the 'excess' fabric. Then, cover w/6" of dirt.

Now, assuming the pipe is 5" in diamter, you'll need to dig 15" down (MINIMUM) to lay in your fabric, gravel, pipe, gravel, wrap-it-up, and dirt. (Of course, plant grass after that.) Remember, if you have fairly level ground, start w/a 1/4" slope until you hit frost line, then you can go fairly level. But watch out your piping doesn't run backwards. (See Landscape Drainage for more info. There's a link on how to construct a French Drain too.) Oh, IF you end up using perforated pipe, the holes face DOWNWARDS.

Instead of trying to come up with some sort of 'surface gutter', you can install a french drain with gravel being laid all the way to the surface of the landscape (along w/an underground perforated piping system.) Laying the gravel up to the surface will act as a 'gutter' where water would normally run across this point (if it wasn't there.) Instead of water running across this point, the water actually gets a straight run DOWNWARDS to the perforated pipe. So, you see, this method 'catches' the water and redirects it downwards to be carried to another location. You'd do this in a situation where there is really soft soil or where, say, a neighbor's water is running onto your lot and they won't / can't do anything about it. Or, for whatever other reason water is running where you don't want it to run. When the water runs down through the gravel, it will start to 'fill' down in the trench, and eventually rise up through the perforated holes and run out wherever you have the pipe running to. Kinda nifty, eh? I have 2 VERY important suggestions if you do this. 1) Be SURE to use Landscape Fabric or Filter Fabric, and wrap EVERYTHING up in it. If you use LF, I'd use 2 layers. If you use FF, you can use 1 layer. Be SURE you have enough 'excess' to overlay the 2 sides of the fabric w/each other. Don't skimp! 2) After you've layed the fabric, the gravel, the pipe, and more gravel, ONLY fill the trench to about 2" from the surface of the ground. At that point, cover the gravel w/the excess fabric, and trim and tuck any excess down the SIDES of the trench (a little). THEN, after that, lay 2" of plain gravel on TOP of what you just wrapped up. (You can even use that pretty Landscape Gravel if you want. I think it comes in GREEN if you want it to 'blend in' w/the grass. Color is apparently not a problem.) Covering at the 2" mark and covering w/gravel keeps the fabric down (and dirt out), AND it give you a 'way' to clean the gravel if, over time, it gets clogged w/dirt or leaves or dead grass or whatever (for whatever reason.) You see, IF you have to 'clean your trench, you only have to remove 2" of gravel, and then 'blow out' the dead stuff or dirt, then put the 2" back in. Kinda nifty, eh?

(WHEW!!!) Now, RE: Dry Well vs. just going to the street - The purpose of the drywell is to help drain the water if you have no other place to go, or to 'collect' it for some other purpose (like using it for watering the garden, or somethin'.) If you can get the water to the street, that's what I'd do. However, if it means busting up the curb or sidewalk, that's your call. Since I can't see the landscape from here, I don't know what else to suggest. IF you end up digging a drywell, you'll need to size it for a worst-case scenario. Remember, a LOT of water may end up in there. With that, you'd want to bury a tank vs. building a gravel-filled drywell. The latter is different, and is designed JUST like I described the french drain (w/o the pipe) where the gravel is laid right up to the surface. Water usually rises up and then runs out. This implies that the pipe feeding it is VERY high in the landscape, and that once the water rises up and out, it has some place to go. You COULD add a sump pump into the drywell to 'force' water somewheres else but this raises new 'issues' w/maintenance and electrical concerns. (I'll hold off on that unless you want to persue it ...)

I know I'VE said a lot about this. And I'm sure you'll have a question (or more.) Post back and we'll go from there.

My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: God Bless America!

[This message has been edited by Jay J (edited October 31, 2001).]


04:51AM | 10/31/01
Member Since: 10/29/01
2 lifetime posts
Wow, Jay...thanks for the lengthy reply.

Let me try and answer everything...

In short, you want to FIX the problem (by possibly getting a new sidwalk); not put a 'bandaid' on it (by installing a perimeter drain.)

Ooops...I should have clarified that a bit. Actually the sidewalk is a completely seperate problem and is actually on the opposite side of the house. I do plan on completely tearing up and repouring the sidewalk next summer properly.

Then, lay in your piping, then cover the pipe again until it's 1" below the top of the pipe. Then, wrap the gravel and pipe w/the 'excess' fabric. Then, cover w/6" of dirt.

I was thinking of just leaving the skirt covered with landscaping rock, as opposed to putting down topsoil and planing grass. Mainly for two reasons...1 being that I don't have 6" of room to play with (that would bring the soil level above the bottom of the basement windows) and 2, I figured that leaving it as just rock will enable better drainage. Is that sound logic?

That said...using grass instead of rock would certainly look a lot better.

If you can get the water to the street, that's what I'd do.

Actually, it's quite easy to do that, we just need to pierce our retaining wall.

IF you end up digging a drywell, you'll need to size it for a worst-case scenario.

The big problem with the drywell idea is that we are on solid clay, so once the well fills up, I'm guessing it will take some time for it to drain.

My best to ya and hope this helps.

It certainly does...thanks a lot!

One question I still have is whether or not the advice I got regarding using Commercial Neoprene made any sense? And, if so, where does one get it?

Also, I'd be interested in your opinion on the advantages/disadvantages of doing it your way vs. foregoing the topsoil and just laying a fabric + rock skirt.'s a sketch that may help explain everything too:

Thanks again!

[This message has been edited by homerj (edited October 31, 2001).]

Jay J

10:09AM | 10/31/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi homerj,

10-4 on all the FOllow-ups you made. Just one thing to add to the one about using gravel all the way to the 'top' of the landscape vs. only to within 6" and then backfilling w/dirt.

Just be sure you have enough 'extra / loose' fabric to cover the main bed of gravel (that 'houses' the pipe.) Once it's covered to within 2" of the top of the landscape, just backfill the remaining 2" with either the same gravel or something more decorative. Since you're going to the top w/gravel, you might want to plan out how it will look, aestetically speaking.

You mentioned clay soil. You can forget that when it comes to 'absorbing' any water. Yes, it will take too long to happen. So, since you're OK w/going to the street, I will simply say that any further 'thoughts' on that are moot.

RE: Neoprene - I did look at the GIF you attached and maybe I'm not reading it right. It LOOKS to me as though they're using the Neoprene more like a 'vertical wall' vs. a 'horizontal wall', if you know what I mean. I know that tar paper is buried underground at about 3' in depth to help 'divert' any water that gets that deep when skirted around a foundation for water-reduction purposes. For materials, even other than Neoprene. Neoprene is expensive. Look in the YELLOW PAGES for Excavation companies, Foundation Repair companies, Concrete Form Fabrication companies, even Ground Stabilization companies. At worst, talk to the Inspector at your local Municipal Office for leads. Various departments usually sub-contract out for their Engineering Consulting work. I'm sure they can point you in the right direction.

As an aside, about 3 months ago, my Mother-in-law's south-side foundation (about 32' long) had to be dug out and have Drain Tile installed. The Tile was installed below the Footing, the wall was sealed with Vulkem 201 Waterproof Membrane (an expansive-type of membrane), back-filled and skirted (on a 45 degree angle) with tar paper to 'divert' water away from the foundation. It was a TOTALLY manual job so I didn't do it! It was done because of YEARS of improper sloping due to missing gutters on the roof. I never met my Father-In-Law so no one was really taking care of the house. I kinda 'forced' it on my MIL. She understands - It was just something she was 'avoiding' because she didn't know anything about it. I, however, did do the finishing work and landscaping. I am pleased with it all.

I'd do the fabric and the rock BUT be sure you have a place for the water to go. If not, it will 'collect and rise' and, eventually, create a new problem. In the project above, I did 'trench-out' about 4" of soil from the foundation to about 2' out. I then lined the trench w/6 mil plastic and backfilled w/nice landscape gravel to the top of the landscape. Since the MIL doesn't want gutters on a 4' roofline up there, I had to do something w/the water that drops off of the roofline. Now, the water simply 'spalshes' on the gravel and either filters down to the plastic or splashes off onto the adjoining grass. The water that reaches the plastic runs down along the foundation wall until it 'hits' a grading point where it runs OUT onto the lawn. Her landscape slopes at about 6" per 3' which is good. In a heavy rain, you can actually see the 'system' work! You'd want to do something similiar if you can, but as I mentioned, just make sure you have a place for all that excess water to go. You COULD catch it in a drywell and run a pipe to the street. Or, you could bury a pipe all through the project too. (I just can't see it from here.)

If you have more ?s, you know where to find me. My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: God Bless America!


07:33PM | 11/11/16
I have water issue also. My husband sealed the block foundation exterior and placed French drain, exiting to back of the house down a wooded hill. The front also has a slope only problem is the first 10 feet next to home are slightly sloped toward home and the cedar siding is already almost touching soil so can't go higher. Don't know how big a job it went be to remove to made a slope. Right now since we have French drain in we wanted to know if we should feel to top w stone? We like the look but want whatever is best. Northeast VA lots of rain and some snow. Thanks for any advice


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