14 September 2008

The Back 40: Part I and II

We've recently embarked on a massive project to both deal with some drainage issues in the backyard and pretty things up back there. You see, we're midslope around here, and water comes streaming down off the hill above us toward the creek below us. This is made especially bad since the neighbors behind us have a roof downspout literally dumping directly into our backyard. So this water likes to collect in pools in our backyard, flood into our too-low garage and under our house. The more we can do to divert it, the better. (Of course, it hasn't rained in so long, I've forgotten what this can be like.)

Anyway, here are some pics of this project in progress. We're using the same Llano river rocks that we used for the front dry stream bed (also made for drainage).

Basically, we are creating a creek to divert water and it flows around the back yard within a new perennial bed. We are also decreasing the amount of lawn (hallelujah), by turning the turf area into one small rectangle aligned with the axis of the back garden. There's still a lot of work to do (ie, hauling in some soil, mulch and plants), but we're getting there.

This is a back-breaker. Digging out the "stream" or french drain. We're still in pain. Two weeks later. Getting old sucks.

You can see the neighbors' drain coming out of their wall.

Filled with rocks and some berm going on.

Brown metal edging from Lowe's defines the edge of the perennial bed and lawn.

We have these heavy-as-shit concrete things all around the house, from previous owner projects. Here we used two to make a bridge over the creek to get to the compost bin.

As we were digging, we found this strange concrete shape buried beneath the soil by the back gate. So, we filled it with stone and turned it into a micro-feature. I like that it's off kilter.

Part III of this project is coming up soon. We'll put newspaper down over everything and cover that with soil, compost and mulch. Then, we'll be ready for planting in the fall. Whew.


Pam/Digging said...

Brilliant solution, Lee. Isn't it amazing how people will direct their drainage right into a neighbor's yard? Your new dry stream and rectangular lawn look fantastic. Can't wait to see the beds when they're all planted.

Lori said...

I like the contrast of the strong geometry of the lawn with the naturalistic plantings and dry creek around it. I can already tell that the results are going to be spectacular, and if the dry creek can hold water long enough for it to really sink in, you're not going to have to do as much watering, either. I'm envious. :)

Lee17 said...

Wow. That looks really great and I bet it works like a charm. I had to dig a drainage ditch all the way across my backyard and down the fence to keep the water from pooling in our back yard. It was a lot of work, but it works great.

Raymond Johnson said...

Wow! That looks great. I love the lawn edging and the dry stone drainage creek as well as the thoughtful musings of that earlier post on it.

Question: Do you, can you, and how is it to walk on the dry creek? Here in Oakland, we have a concrete paver drive along the side of our house that we rarely use for parking. My idea was to do something similar, replacing the pavers with dry creek stones, creating two parallel creeks tire width apart, with low-slung California natives between. But the drive is also our primary footpath to the backyard, so it needs to be walkable. Do you think I'd need walking pavers between the dry creek, interspersed with the natives, or could we get away with walking directly on the creek? Ours would be more level, so that might help. Any thoughts? Thanks.