Das Trencherden

As we not-so-affectionately called this growing drainage trench in our back yard.



We’ve had some major water issues in our backyard, including our air conditioning unit sitting in water every time it rained…

Standing water after a thunderstorm

Even water flowing through our crawl space during an especially heavy downpour. It is NOT fun to wake up to the sound of water rushing under your house!

We’ve done quite a few things to combat this. First, our HVAC guy helped us raise our ac unit and put it on a new concrete pad. We also re-graded all of the dirt under our deck and around the ac unit so water wouldn’t pool next to the house (this is what required taking our deck down in the first place).


Replacing our old, leaky gutters with bigger gutters and adding an extra downspout also helped a lot! But, we still had to dig “das trencherden,” aka a drainage trench that ran from one corner of our deck (or where it should be)…


All the way around our house.


Culminating in this catch basin in our front yard.


You can’t really tell from the pictures, but it was probably almost 2 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep (it had to run downhill from the rest of the trench, obviously!)


It wasn’t exactly an easy task! Our yard is full of rocks, making digging with a shovel pretty impossible (it’s all about the pickaxe), and you don’t have to dig very far before you hit bedrock. See all that rock?


Andrew even bought a small pneumatic hammer…and boy was it helpful! I’m not sure we would have been able to finish the trench without it!


Once Andrew finished digging the trench (we started mid April, so…not a short process), the rest came together pretty quickly. We laid the hose in to make sure we had enough…


And then put our perforated drainage hose into a drain filter (like a really long sock) to keep dirt from filling it in and laid it back in our trench.

We fed our downspout into it as well using a y junction and a small piece of solid drainage pipe, but we still need an adapter piece so the downspout will be inside the pipe. (We have wider downspouts than normal residential ones, so we’re having trouble finding the right size.)


We had to cut out a small section of the bottom of our hose to go over these wires… (We called the city to come out and mark before we ever started digging, and Andrew dug out this section entirely by hand and very carefully! Safety first!)


But the top is still in tact to create the opening, and it has the sock around it to keep dirt out. Andrew had to keep reminding me that this was not meant to be a solid drain that carries water away, but it’s simply supposed to create a space for extra water to go…hence the perforated pipe so water can flow into it from anywhere along the hose, not just at the opening.

After laying the hose, we filled in around it with drainage rock.


Typically people put the drainage rock inside the filter/sock around the hose, but our filter wasn’t that much bigger than our hose, and frankly, we just didn’t want to deal with that (pretty much would have had to scoop it in by hand.)

Then we covered it in pea gravel. (Don’t mind that deck frame in the background. We’ll talk about that in a future blog post. But…be excited!!!)


We didn’t want to fill the trench with the super condensed clay soil and rock we took out of it, so we found a place on Craigslist to dump it for free.


This guy had a 30 foot deep ravine that he said he’s trying to fill! He said it used to be twice as deep, and he thinks it’ll take another 2 or so years to get it filled up. Luckily, he was pushing the dirt off the edge with a backhoe, so we didn’t have to get too close.

photo 3


We loaded it up one bucket-full at a time, not realizing quite how much dirt we really had! In hindsight, we definitely put way too much weight in our little truck, but for now we haven’t noticed any negative consequences of our bad decision! Yay, Ford Ranger!

photo 1

Here’s the budget breakdown, for anyone who cares. (FYI, really depressing that a simple drainage trench can cost so much, especially when we already had the pea gravel and some of the hose)

  • 3 10′ pieces of perforated drainage hose: $20.48
  • 6″ x 100′ drain sleeve filter/sock (on clearance!): $10.99
  • “Y” hose adapter: $7.66
  • 20 bags of drainage rock: $76.39
  • New pickaxe handle (the trench destroyed the old one!): $12.05
  • Pneumatic hammer: $22.48
  • Pea gravel: had on hand
  • Dumping: Free

TOTAL: $150.05

And here’s what our side yard looks like now. Not pretty, but not nearly as dangerous as before! (Stupid me, I slipped into the trench on numerous occasions while trying to get into our back yard, but luckily avoided a sprained ankle!)


We’re going to fill in the last few inches with good top soil so we can get grass to grow back across the trench. And it’ll be like it never happened!! Except the damage to our wallet…can’t undo that.

The re-grading, new gutters, and this trench have definitely improved our water problem significantly! Even with our heavy Arkansas downpours, we have hardly any standing water which drains off very quickly, the air conditioner is never in water, and we haven’t had water in our crawl space again. Woot! We weren’t sure we’d be able to make that happen, but we’re gaining confidence with each phase of this back yard project that it just might work out after all!

One Response to Das Trencherden

  1. Jeremy June 24, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Great Post!!