Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

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Ykcor
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Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

My driveway has a swale and collects water when it rains. I want to put a 12-18 inch catch basin at edge and run 130 feet of 6" smooth pvc pipe across front lawn to woods. This will go under the brick sidewalk from house to mailbox. I got two bids for project from local landscape companies, one $2400 and other $3600. I figured materials $500 and renting trencher from Home Depot $200. Would call 811 to identify underground utilities. My undergrad degree was engineering so I understand the mechanical and fluid dynamics. It's clay soil and will require some labor. My wife says no hire it done.
Normchad
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Normchad »

I'm not going to talk you out of it. Go for it!

I'd use flexible pipe though.... but nothing wrong with smooth PVC........

All of my down spouts are routed a hundred plus feet underground, via corrugated black pipe, out to the woods. works great...... you'd think the black pipe would collapse, but it doesn't.
suemarkp
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by suemarkp »

Do you really need 6"? That costs so much more than 4" which everyone has, especially any fittings. Id look for NDS pipe, as that is what is used for drainage (slightly different diameter than PVC DWV pipe).

Do you have a bright self leveling laser? Makes getting the trench slope correct easy. Most are hard to see in bright sun, so i do it on cloudy days or at dusk.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
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Watty
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Watty »

Ykcor wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:50 pm It's clay soil...
and rocks, and large roots, and junk that was buried for some unknown reason.

I have not used a rental trencher like that but I would suspect that it might be on the whimpy side when it comes to obstructions and deeper parts that a larger machine that a contractor would have which might just plow through the hard parts.

Sometimes when you are on a budget "you do what you gotta do" so if that is the case then go for it. I've done a number of projects like that and this sounds doable.

If you can afford it then I would hire someone to do the work and spend your time doing some other DIY projects around the house.
Last edited by Watty on Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
regularguy455
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by regularguy455 »

Wife said no so I think you have your answer
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TxAg
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by TxAg »

DIY yard projects are the best because mess ups are usually easy to fix with some elbow grease. I say go for it.
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Ykcor
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

regularguy455 wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:25 pm Wife said no so I think you have your answer
You may be right. I love my wife, but hate it when she says "I told you so".
Normchad
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Normchad »

I've used the rental ditch digger. They are great. They will go through roots, and lift out big rocks. But they pulverize the soil and lawn, and it's quite a bit of work to get all the dirt back in the trench when you're done. I think I trenched over 1200 feet for a sprinkler system, it only took about 90 minutes with the trencher to do that. so it's very fast.

For this, I'd actually just use a shovel. Pull the grass back, only dig as deep as you need to. Put the dirt back in, and flop the grass back over to cover it all up. My yard slopes, so the top of the drain pipes are just about 4 inches deep......
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baconavocado
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by baconavocado »

I've rented a trencher and they're fun to use. The one I rented for a 4-6" wide trench (?) came with a trailer that could easily be towed behind any pickup. I used 3" corrugated/flexible pipe but if I were doing it again, I'd definitely go with the smooth, solid PVC or ABS drain pipe and glued fittings because it will be easier to clean if you ever get obstructions. 6" diameter pipe seems huge to me - I would double check the kind of flows you're expecting. You'll need a trenching shovel the same width of your trenches to clean them up before laying the pipe.

In my area, they're trying to discourage people from directing storm water (e.g., from gutters and downspouts) into municipal drains and rather develop low areas around your yard where rain water and other runoff can collect and percolate back into the soil.
quantAndHold
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by quantAndHold »

Trenching 130 feet yourself, to save $1700?

Only if you think it’s actually going to be fun. Otherwise, that’s a lot of work for not much savings.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
iamlucky13
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by iamlucky13 »

Ykcor wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:50 pmMy undergrad degree was engineering so I understand the mechanical and fluid dynamics. It's clay soil and will require some labor. My wife says no hire it done.
It's simpler than that. Most drainage installations are done with standard fall rates. I don't know what will apply in this case, but most commonly I see 1/4" per foot.

Be aware that 811 will locate only lines that the utility companies own. In my area, this usually includes electrical, gas, and telecom, but water only up to the meter. I have close to no idea where the water lines are on my property. Also, the electrical line from my house to my garage is owned by me, so 811 is not able to locate it, although I do know where it is since it was installed after we bought the place. I have a decent idea where the sewer line is.

This is a project I'd take on myself. I'm not going to do much good at talking you out of it.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Sandtrap »

Perhaps when everything is done it might result in less $ savings and more work than you thought and results may not fully meet spouses expectations.
So.... have fun doing it for it’s own rewards.
Or
Hire, save your spine, make sure it meets spouses expectations.

Just because we “can” do something doesn’t always mean we should....
Discretion is the better part of valor.

Choose wisely.
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JoinToday
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by JoinToday »

The issue I would be concerned with is:
1. slope with no low spots where dirt & debris would collect
2. I don't like the idea of corrugated pipe. that will be guaranteed to collect dirt, then rocks, etc, and it is thin so you can't run a snake through it too many times.

Make sure you add a bunch of clean-outs / access points so you can run a snake to clean out the pipe for when (not if) it gets plugged up.

I used 4 inch SDR-35 drain line, with a minimum of 1% slope.
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JOEVANDAL
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by JOEVANDAL »

I would hire it out. For my home projects I have the 4X rule. If I think it will take me a weekend, it will take me 4 weekends.
raisinsaregrapes
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by raisinsaregrapes »

Said above but I'll say again. 811 Call before you dig may not find anything on private property. When I had them come out they stopped at the Right of Way and really didn't help with anything on my land. But they will help prevent you from hitting something in a public easement that you had no idea was there.
aqan
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by aqan »

OP what was the last big DIY project you did?

Edit: $2400 seems pretty reasonable. I agree with the comments above, unless you are doing this for fun....
abc123x
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by abc123x »

Normchad wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:55 pm I'm not going to talk you out of it. Go for it!

I'd use flexible pipe though.... but nothing wrong with smooth PVC........

All of my down spouts are routed a hundred plus feet underground, via corrugated black pipe, out to the woods. works great...... you'd think the black pipe would collapse, but it doesn't.
One word of caution with black corrugated pipe for drainage. They can create a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes if water isn’t completely draining out of them. I live in a mosquito prone area and avoid those pipes at all costs for that reason. Other than that, I say go for it!
Jim Beaux
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Jim Beaux »

Without more info I see this as a simple and easy job.

I think 4" would serve you well and renting a 4" trencher is faster & cheaper. Clay is an expansive soil, its dynamic and expands and contracts with the weather so either use one solid section of corrugated pipe or glue the pvc joints.

Once you have everything in place hire a college kid to back fill the trench.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by jabberwockOG »

Depending on your age and skill with a shovel, 130 feet of drain line is not a big deal to install. The most difficult part is going under the sidewalk and how deep you will need to be at that point relative to the rest of the grade. That' s the only part that might make me hire a pro.

Unless you are talking a huge volume of water, get some more bids using 4 inch pipe. For the right contractor it's a half day job, should be able to get it done for $800-1000 in many areas unless HCOL.

If you diy take the wedges of grass out carefully so you can plop them right back over the pipe. Use flexible 4 inch corrugated pipe, normally it can be purchased in 50 or 100 ft rolls.
Jim Beaux
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Jim Beaux »

I forgot about the brick walk. The trencher boom should reach a short distance under the walk from both sides and cleaned out with a hand pick, but the walk will now have to be supported with more than just back fill.
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alpenglow
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by alpenglow »

Ykcor wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:50 pm My driveway has a swale and collects water when it rains. I want to put a 12-18 inch catch basin at edge and run 130 feet of 6" smooth pvc pipe across front lawn to woods. This will go under the brick sidewalk from house to mailbox. I got two bids for project from local landscape companies, one $2400 and other $3600. I figured materials $500 and renting trencher from Home Depot $200. Would call 811 to identify underground utilities. My undergrad degree was engineering so I understand the mechanical and fluid dynamics. It's clay soil and will require some labor. My wife says no hire it done.
I did work like this at my parents' house a number of years ago. I was younger, so I hand dug about 200 feet. The soil was somewhat sandy, so that helped. Anyway, as long as you maintain pitch, it is very easy to do yourself. I used the 4" corrugated black drainage pipe from home depot - about $75 for a 100ft roll.
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Sandtrap »

abc123x wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:01 am
Normchad wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:55 pm I'm not going to talk you out of it. Go for it!

I'd use flexible pipe though.... but nothing wrong with smooth PVC........

All of my down spouts are routed a hundred plus feet underground, via corrugated black pipe, out to the woods. works great...... you'd think the black pipe would collapse, but it doesn't.
One word of caution with black corrugated pipe for drainage. They can create a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes if water isn’t completely draining out of them. I live in a mosquito prone area and avoid those pipes at all costs for that reason. Other than that, I say go for it!
+1
flexible pipe is vulnerable to crushing, crimping, and critter chewing, and also does not drain smoothly and catches a lot of debris buildup.
Smooth pipe is better if it can be afforded, though it might take just a bit more effort since angles and bends have to be installed vs the flexible corrugated tube in a roll.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Sandtrap »

Late last year, I rented a mini excavator (get the smallest bucket) for a week and trenched for underground drain lines for 4 buildings.

As stated earlier, not hitting gas lines, power lines, septic lines, etc, is "critical".
Having a machine for trenching does not eliminate using a shovel.
Shovels are ergonomically made to create back pain and blisters. So, gloves and take your time.
Trench a little deeper so that the lines can be sloped properly, backfill carefully.

This is a project somewhat easily done as long as one is methodical, careful, and doesn't rush.
It can be rewarding and can save $$$.

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Bengineer
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Bengineer »

OP, you might want to look into smooth wall flex drain pipe. Corrugated on the outside, smooth on the inside.
eddot98
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by eddot98 »

OP, you haven’t posted any photos or given us much information, so I may be off base here. Why is there a swale in the driveway? Is is longitudinal or does it go across the driveway? How deep is the center? Is the driveway sloped to the street? Can the drainage issue be corrected by regrading the driveway so that it is crowned, can it be pitched slightly to one side or the other or to the street? Installing a catch basin and running 130 linear feet of pipe seems a little like overkill to correct some ponding in a driveway, just my opinion. The catch basin will have to be cleaned periodically (think leaves, sand, etc) and so will the pipe. It doesn’t take much to clog a 4 or 6 inch pipe. I always try for the simplest, least maintenance intensive solution that I can attain.
investor4life
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by investor4life »

No thoughts on hire vs DIY.

But we do have our sump pump drain into an underground 4-inch corrugated flexible pipe. About 60 feet from the house to the edge of the yard. The contractor used perforated pipe for the last 40 feet, so we get free irrigation for that part of the yard. Grass is definitely healthier there :)
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by RadAudit »

Ykcor wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 8:50 pm My wife says no hire it done.
Based on your background, you should do OK. And, I'm sure your DW is more forgiving than mine. But JIC anything goes wrong, have you figured out how years you're going to have to listen to "I told you so."
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. Die anyway. - PS: The cavalry isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.
WildBill
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by WildBill »

Howdy

When I have taken on moderate DIY projects that I had no experience with I usually ended up wishing I had not.

You do not have the equipment or domain knowledge. Savings not that great. Potential for expensive damage to utilities.

You will get probably it done, but there may be some drama.

I am firmly in the HAP camp - Hire a Professional.

Happy trenching

W B
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by sunny_socal »

Just do it. We once bought a house with yard drainage problems, didn't discover this until the first heavy rain.
- Took about 1' of dirt off the whole yard since it was above the level of our house. About 10 truckloads, each $250.
- Dug about 3' deep and installed "french drains" complete with gravel bed and filtered pipes
- Above that I placed surface drains, leading down to the street where I punched through the curb for drainage

Only hired out the dumping of extra dirt and drilling the hole through the curb. Rest totally DIY, including renting bobcats and little backhoes on weekends. It was a fun project.

Probably cost me $7k, including a brand new irrigation system and 2000 sq ft of turf. Would have cost $30k if we had hired it out.

And..... when we sold the house the new owner tore it ALL out and poured concrete in the entire yard, installed a pool :|
kelvan80
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by kelvan80 »

We rented a trencher to do something similar that would have cost us about $1000. We needed electricity run over to the new hot tub install from our garage as our other breaker panel was full. It's been 6 years but to this day I'd pay double what the original quote was to have my husband's time and energy back. It took FOREVER, and much more backbreaking than he anticipated as there were a couple of places that had to be hand dug due to pool equipment etc. If you have the money I'd pay it.
crefwatch
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by crefwatch »

Does the ground freeze in your area? My self install 4” PVC sch 40 has risen.
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by forgeblast »

always over engineer water. If four is recommended go with 6 or 8, 100 year floods and rain events are more common. Anytime we did water mitigation work (when i was working part time with a landscaper) we made it larger then it needed to be.
knibloe
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by knibloe »

What about a hybrid? Hire some cheap labor to trench. You buy the tile, lay it and backfill.
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Ykcor
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

Normchad wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:17 pm I've used the rental ditch digger. They are great. They will go through roots, and lift out big rocks. But they pulverize the soil and lawn, and it's quite a bit of work to get all the dirt back in the trench when you're done. I think I trenched over 1200 feet for a sprinkler system, it only took about 90 minutes with the trencher to do that. so it's very fast.

For this, I'd actually just use a shovel. Pull the grass back, only dig as deep as you need to. Put the dirt back in, and flop the grass back over to cover it all up. My yard slopes, so the top of the drain pipes are just about 4 inches deep......
Would be back breaker to hand dig with shovel in Alabama red clay. I do plan to remove a 8-12 inch strip of sod and place to one side of the trench. Then run a roll of 3' land scraping fabric on the other side to catch the loose soil. I will need to ask if the trencher moves dirt right or left.
Topic Author
Ykcor
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

forgeblast wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:43 am always over engineer water. If four is recommended go with 6 or 8, 100 year floods and rain events are more common. Anytime we did water mitigation work (when i was working part time with a landscaper) we made it larger then it needed to be.
Agree
Topic Author
Ykcor
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

crefwatch wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:15 am Does the ground freeze in your area? My self install 4” PVC sch 40 has risen.
Seldom temp ever gets in teens Fahrenheit. It had been years since ground froze.
Topic Author
Ykcor
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

sunny_socal wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:08 pm Just do it. We once bought a house with yard drainage problems, didn't discover this until the first heavy rain.
- Took about 1' of dirt off the whole yard since it was above the level of our house. About 10 truckloads, each $250.
- Dug about 3' deep and installed "french drains" complete with gravel bed and filtered pipes
- Above that I placed surface drains, leading down to the street where I punched through the curb for drainage

Only hired out the dumping of extra dirt and drilling the hole through the curb. Rest totally DIY, including renting bobcats and little backhoes on weekends. It was a fun project.

Probably cost me $7k, including a brand new irrigation system and 2000 sq ft of turf. Would have cost $30k if we had hired it out.

And..... when we sold the house the new owner tore it ALL out and poured concrete in the entire yard, installed a pool :|
Also there is some satification of doing a tough project yourself that you can't put a price tag on.
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Ykcor
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Re: Talk me out of DIY Yard drain project.....

Post by Ykcor »

aqan wrote: Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:36 am OP what was the last big DIY project you did?

Edit: $2400 seems pretty reasonable. I agree with the comments above, unless you are doing this for fun....
Three or four years ago I put in a trench drain at my daughter's house as water was coming down a hillside and standing on her patio. Had to rent a concrete saw and cut thru a 5" concrete slab and trench the water down the yard to the street. It was sandy soil in a different state and I got my S-I-L to do a lot of the digging. He owes me but if he comes to my house the grandkids come along and "Poppi" would not get any work done.
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