Sunday, August 7, 2011


We were contacted by a client from Holt, MI recently that had 2-3" of constantly standing water in their backyard.  Please see the picture below.
The homeowners had a beautiful inground pool installed last summer (2010) and the pool installer had suggested alleviating this water problem by using a trencher to install a drain tile 280' to swamp on the back of the property.  I was contacted and showed up a year later and they still have standing water in the yard.  The homeowner and I had a great conversation and I worked out an estimate for their drainage job.

I chose to use the E-Z Flow System from NDS and create a 'fish-scale' system that would drain to a main line of 4" slotted sewer pipe with a filter sock, and would include drainage vents/ports in any standing water areas, as well as possible future maintenance of the french drain system.

We hired our good friend and excellent excavator operator Jim Plesscher to excavate the trenches.  We need to point out that we do not use trenchers to install our drain tile.  Trenchers generally leave very loose soil in the bottom of the trench that is often not hand shoveled out by the installers and can allow the pipe to go up and down similar to a rollercoaster.  The loose soil will absorb water, especially during the spring thaw and this will further cause the drain tile to move up and down even more.  This up and down motion interrupts the ability of the pipe to drain and will hold large amounts of water in the pipe.

We are committed to installing our pipe on a solid base (no loose soil), whether we hand dig the trench or use an excavator to do the digging.  We are also committed to excavating the trench with the proper fall which is a minimum 2" fall every 20' (the trench in the picture was draining the entire time we were excavating it).  We installed drainage vents/ports to the surface every 100', as well as in any areas of standing water such as where you see the white Dodge pick-up parked in the pictures.  Our systems are able to be either router-rooted or water-jetted if the need ever arises.  This is done so that are systems are installed with the intent that they can drain forever!

After this system was installed, our area over the course of 36 hours received approximately 9.5 inches of rain.  I visited the system to look at some additional work the client wanted done, and was extremely surprised to walk up and down the length of the area that we had excavated and backfilled for the trench, and it was extremely firm to walk on.  That was an immediate indication that the french drainage system was performing perfectly.  The homeowners were trying to get this area drained properly so that they could proceed with installing a rather large paver patio.  As long as they used a layer of GeoTextile and built the base material out of rock, they had my blessing to proceed with their patio installation plans.

I would have to say that this french drain project was working better than even I had anticipated...I expected due to the composition of the clay soil for the drainage of the area to be a little slower.  Although, I can't argure with the smell of victory over another homeowners drainage dilemma!

Thank you and STAY DRY!!!

Downspout Drainage Job Profile - Plymouth, MI

On Sunday, July 31, we received a website submission from a distressed homeowner who had just had an extensive downspout drainage job completed by his irrigation company the day before (Saturday).  He started asking me questions about drainage and the way we design and install our downspout drainage systems.  He noticed on our Drainage and Grading Web page on our Landscape Labor Solutions website that we installed our systems a bit differently from the competition.

Over the past 23 years we have constantly evaluated and improved the design of our drainage systems.  We have gained a lot of experience from removing existing systems that other companies have installed.  One problem that we keep seeing over and over again continually, is that the drain tile is always 1/2 to two-thirds full of mud or sediment.  This compromises the integrity of the drainage system.

We have nicknamed a lot of the companies who claim they install drainage as "slap and dash" because their philosophy is to install some 4" Black Plastic Drain Tile and a few parts, drain it out to the yard, and call it good.  They do not tape any of the joints, which allow a tremendous amount of sediment and ersoion back into the pipe and eventually fill it up.

They always end their downspout drainage in the yard with some type of catch basin that continually holds water (it will never fully drain!).  We install a simple 4" mini drywell as deep in the ground as we can vertically dig with post-hole diggers.  Sometimes we excavate 1' and sometimes we are able to dig as deep as 4'.  This mini drywell will allow the water to seep directly into the ground during light rains or it can fill and flood to the surface and eventually recede back into the drywell during a torrential downpour.  We install on average approximately 65 mini drywells a year and have had not problems since we started using this system design in 2000.

The gentleman who called us from Plymouth, MI wanted every downspout removed that his irrigation company had installed just a few days before.  We talked extensively on the phone to answer his questions and educate him on why we install our systems the way we install them.  We also e-mailed him several pictures that demonstrated our systems (we have a gallery of 1000's of drainage pics to pull from),  as well as took a mandatory road trip down to Plymouth, MI to meet with the homeowner and estimate the job correctly.

On Friday, August 4th, we took the crew down and spent the day removing the "old" drainage systems and installing the new systems.  It was a hard days work, but both the homeowner and our crew can rest easy at night that a high quality system was installed correctly for longevity and performance, as well as ease of maintenance of the system in the future.

Below, we have included several pictures of our Plymouth, MI job so you can view  what we completed that day.  I hope this blog about this job helps you make a decision about the drainage around your home.  On the outside of the home it is one of the most important things to consider...water can very quickly destroy or erode things and create multiple problems for a homeowner.  These problems can be extremely costly to repair, and often when it is repaired it is done with a band-aid fix.