Courtyard Drainage


We built the Garage pretty close to the house so we could have a little courtyard patio between the two. Landscaped nicely, it would be a quaint (meaning small) area that we could landscape the hell out of without having to spend much money. See, its a little space so we won't have to buy lots of stuff. Plus there are walls, sidewalks, and fences that bound it, creating real "space" boundaries. Not like trying to landscape a corn field. But since its between two big roofs that have three drainspouts pouring in, I decided that any real work must await real drainage.


  The lay of the land before the drains. garage on the left. House invisible to the right. The fence corner is really the opened gate. Little orange dashed lines mark the drains. Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View Picture above with the trenches dug.

  Swinging to the right, you see the house. This is sort of the same view as that seen in the Little Picket Fence page. Note the EF-3 Backhoe getting another workout. The trench there by the gate seemed deep enough. Hmm . . . Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View Looking back to the front of the garage. This is the most complicated part of the excavation. It shows the main line with two intersections, one from the house (bottom left) and the other from the front of the garage (middle). Also you can see the dismantling of the front walk to burrow underneath the sand, the rock dust and the clay. In the distance, is the Refurbed G-Cart.

  Trenching on out to the driveway. Another challenge is to go beneath the Driveway Relocation and through the wall on the other side. Sign of a good project? Getting to use all the machinery - EF-3 Backhoe, Dump Truck, and Tractor. Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View Another view of the driveway dig. Pretty deep gravel up close, but more clay near the wall. Challenge here was to get the truck close enough to the hoe to allow dumping the clay into the truck while retaining as much gravel for the driveway as possilbe.

  After entire day of rain, I was able to put the first section of pipe in. There are many fascinating aspects of this picture. First, note the green pipe. Then note the roll of black pipe. I planned on using black pipe for the whole thing. But then I figured the hard pipe would be better under the driveway. Also note the Safety Cones so cars wouldn't crash into the ditch during the day it rained. There is also an extension cord and a shovel. Then there is the Machine Pad excavation in the top left background. Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View The mainline black pipe rolled into place. This stuff sucks. First, it holds water in the little corrugations. Second, its impossible to determine if its at the right height, since it conforms to the terrain. Finally, it is easily dented and ripped (especially by the roto-rooter blades that could otherwise clear years worth of obstructions). That makes it especially hard for the laborer (in the background) to maintain. Note the orange dot sprayed on the gate. That's what happens when you have your hands full of tools and spray paint and try to pull the gate release up.

  Closer view of the crappy black pipe. This will prove to be the problem area. First, the little wye joints don't seal. So water just pours out of them into the clay. That makes the clay mushy and rubbery. Once under dirt, that would be ok, but I don't like it. Second, this area (just inside the gate) is lower than outside the gate. Coupled with the leaky joints, I worried this would become an underground swamp. Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View So what did I do? Two things. Trash the stupid black pipe, flushing $50 in sunk costs. Second, dig the trenches deeper from the inside of the gate, under the sidewalk, and on the other side. Note the builder's level to the center right that I use to set the level. This requires the assistance of my laborer.

  The stupid black pipe was replaced with this rigid PVC with little white joints that I glue together. This is sewer pipe so I am pretending this is a storm sewer. I have to cut them to the right length and put them together so they fit the contours. While harder to connect and cut, they are infinitely easier to get the right slope. And with the help of the power mitre saw, cutting was a breeze (of little green shreds). Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View All glued up and configured. The little black marks on the pipes and fittings were my dry-fit/run-test marks. I put them all together at the angles I needed to get the right drain level. I shot it all with the builder's level and my laborer and it was all good. Thank you laborer. Then I ran some simulated rain water thru them (using the hose). Once I saw the water 100' away on the other side of the wall (45 seconds) and stopped the water (45 seconds), then I knew I had the right level. I marked them all then glued them up one by one.

  Sinking the pipes in soil. Many say that I should cover with gravel or sand. Well I'm out of gravel and may want things to grow nearby. Remember, I dug an 18" trench for a 4" pipe. The dirt is pretty dry and crumbly so there shouldn't be much to dent the pipes. That sod in the dirt pile is a problem. There is still the run under the walkway and to the driveway to complete. Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View Note the sod in the fill above. Sod doesn't make the best fill. So, by hand, I pulled out all the sod from the mounds of clay and dirt. Then I threw them in the EF-3 bucket. Then I dumped them in the dump truck from the back. It goes to the top soil pile where it will be covered to ferment.l

  There's the dump truck with sod in it in the background. Note the filled and compacted trench in the foreground. Given the EF-3 is in the courtyard, I obviously did this by hand. I shoveled all the nice little dirt and clay without boulders, clods, or rocks so that I could have a nice smooth bed of smooth dirt for the pipe. Then I come along and push remaining dirt in with the EF-3, like in the courtyard. Click for Larger View

  Click for Larger View More hand compacting, with the hand compactor in the background. The green pipe goes under the driveway and exits at the bottom of the wall on the other side, about three feet down.

  This is source (one of three). I chopped the downspout off with a hand grinder. Then screwed those little adapters on with stainless steel screws. The pipe is all I used of the black pipe. It goes into the little adapters just barely visible at the end of the pipe. Click for Larger View

Leak me your thoughts