Backyard water problem

We are newbie homeowners. We noticed water pooling in the backyard where our property meets our uphill neighbors'. The neighbors swear that they have a drainage pipe for their irrigation system. We had a plumber come and inspect the pipes and they are not clogged. Pipes must not be sufficient because our yard is wet and plants are dying (2 succulents already died and the grass is dying where it stays moist). It started raining, so we understand that we can't do much right now. But, it stayed wet throughout the dry months of June through Nov. (for the entire time we have lived here). We just bought our first home and don't have a lot of money for an extensive landscape update, but the "swamp" is breeding insects, plants are dying and it's rotting the old fence. We are not even sure who to call for this type of problems. We would love to hear from more experienced homeowners on where to go from here. We spoke with two landscape designers and one said we needed a french drain while the other said we didn't need a drainage work but rather re-landscape the area and plant a tree and other water loving plants. We also need to replace the rotten fence. Does a fence company also do drainage work? What would they do if they dug to replace the fence and found a pool of water?

Thanks!

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

RE: Backyard water problem ()

You had a plumber inspect the neighbor's pipes and determine that they were not clogged? But is he sure they were not broken somewhere? Were there no disclosures about this issue from your seller? I would recommend a camera scan of the uphill neighbor's drainage pipes to make sure that the water is going where it is supposed to go.  Another possibility is that an existing French drain has failed.  This is not something you should leave unaddressed because it can lead to foundation problems: water will always follow the path of least resistance.  And do not use the landscaper who wanted you to plant water-loving plants. That is an ignorant non-solution to a drainage problem.

RE: Backyard water problem ()

Is your backyard on any sort of slope? Sounds like you need a French drain. This sort of drain captures water and diverts it around your property onto the street or gutter. We bought our house several years ago and put in a double French drain, as our yard was collecting water from a series of uphill neighbors. Sorry, not cheap, but will save your yard and your foundation. Good luck.

RE: Backyard water problem ()

I am guessing that the grass and perhaps some of your other landscaping was put in this past spring to sell the house, and the water was likely always an issue in that area. The neighbors do have an obligation not to have a drainage system that dump directly onto your property, but it doesn't sound like this is the case. Most likely, it is just runoff and groundwater that is coming down from the slope and that you'll need to redirect with french drains when it hits your property. Landscaping will help, but if you're getting pooling water in June, you probably have bigger issues than some grading and alternate tree choices can solve. I'd call a few drainage specialists and get their assessments. We used and liked Ward Construction in Richmond, but there are a number of similar firms with drainage expertise. They are skilled at evaluating where the water is coming from and what will address it. It isn't cheap, but it will save you money in the long run. Good luck!

RE: Backyard water problem ()

I have a friend who purchased a home at the base of hill and after the first downpour the bottom level of her home was flooded.  The neighbors knew that this was an ongoing issue with the prior owners.  I don't remember if she had to get a real estate lawyer or went back to her agent for help, but the previous owners who had failed to disclose the issue had to pay for the damages.  My friend then dealt with the drainage issue. 
 

RE: Backyard water problem ()

I disagree with the landscape idea to plant a tree in essentially what spunds like a bog. LOL. You could create a bog garden?
A French drain will definitely fix a water infiltration problem-not sure if that idea is cost prohibitive for you? There is also something called a "swail", it is a shallow channel designed to manage water runoff. A swail effectively reroutes the water so that it is no longer causing a problem. From my understanding a swail is a less expensive option than a French drain, but it all depends on the topography of your yard. I hope that helps & best of luck to you.

RE: Backyard water problem ()

When I was a kid, we had a similar situation at our house in Walnut Creek. If you're at the base of a hill or even a 'slump" in a sloped area, it is possible that earth movements have opened up a spring on your property or uphill from it, that's trickling down. I wonder if it's worth contacting a soils engineer. Even East Bay MUD might have a referral to someone who can help you assess the source of the groundwater. Perhaps the solution will be to stop the water coming into your yard altogether. Perhaps the solution will be to catch the water in a pond and use some kind of filtration system (natural or artificial) to deal with bugs, slime, sodden roots, etc. Or maybe there's a way to bypass your property.

https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=402998

 

RE: Backyard water problem ()

When did you started noticing the problem?

Was it disclosed by previous owners?

Our neighbors complained of wet driveway. We could not see anything until we called a plumber. They can detect if there is a broken pipe. There was!. We have nice neighbors and we were lucky we did not cause much damage to their property...We fixed it and our next water bill was 3 times more the normal... $600. Call a plumber, make sure the problem is not a broken pipe....

RE: Backyard water problem ()

Was this in the disclosures when you bought the house? If not, you may be able to get some money to help with this problem from the previous owners.