Monday, November 30, 2009

Mud Puddles and Trenches

My driveway looks like this these days, higher than the yard on both sides, and mostly mud puddle.  Last year, I had moved in for a whole week before it started snowing and the puddles froze.  To avoid the ice, I parked on the far side of the driveway on the yard (thanks to my time in SC I know that's OK).  What happened is that I killed all the grass over there with dripping salty water.  It's just now mostly grown back.  Some people advised me to fill in the holes (ie, raise the driveway more), but it seems to me that's just going to make the problem worse in the long run.

When the ground thawed in the spring I took a shovel out and dug a trench on both sides of the driveway so water could drain  into the yard.  (The lower right corner of this picture shows one of the trenches.)  The trenches worked great, so I tried to "make it better" by filling the trenches with sand.  It should work!  Wastewater treatment plants use sand to filter water.  But in this case, the sand completely stopped the water and I ended up digging the sand back out.

What's happening now is that trucks (logging, garbage, etc) and my car ride over the trenches and I need to re-dig the trenches after every rain to empty the puddles.  I desperately want to make sure there's no ice in here over the winter.  I think I need to bury pipes in those trenches to keep them open, but I have no idea what to buy.  Just a standard PVC schedule 40 pipe?  Something special? It's OK if I don't immediately find out the exact right thing to do.  I've got a shovel and two good hands.


  1. I don't think you'd want or need PVC. Go to your Menard's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and ask to see their drain tile (septic tank drainage tile, technically).

    The name is deceiving: it's actually 4" (or thereabouts), light-weight tubing with holes. It's what is used in drain fields (beyond septic tanks) or around homes to direct water away from the basement walls or foundation.

    Also, gravel would work in place of the sand (which is too fine). Make sure that you get a larger rock gravel, though, and not a finer 'Class 5' that would compact just like the sand.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Jordan,
    Yes, gravel in the driveway. "Dirt" may not drain, and that's what you're looking for. It may take years of filling in the ruts with the gravel, but you are just looking to move the water from the driveway out. I don't mean like it will be a long, tough job. They will work their way down through the squishy dirt, but I think it will do what you want. By raising the driveway level, the water will pool in the lower place, which will be in the yard, but you aren't going to park there. And it will drain from the yard slowly, but I think you are OK with that, since you are looking to channel that puddle over there anyway.
    Maybe your logger friends could throw some gravel in there for you. Around here, they usually put in a sluice pipe an the ditch spot and then some gravel at the road where they will be going in and out to make a driveway so they don't sink in too much. They may have a pile at their home place and you really aren't necessarily looking for a whole dumptruck load. It could be an easy fix. The sooner you get it, the better, because it will have a little time to pack in before you snow plow over it.

  3. This type of product might work for your puddles.

    I enjoy your blog and seeing all the progress you are making. I'm thinking of making some raised beds and I love the idea of being able to park on the grass! I think the zoning inspectors would frown on that here.

  4. Thanks guys, for the suggestions! This winter is going to be SO much better than last year, starting with me being able to park in the driveway!