Two Reasons to Install a French Drain

Stormwater runoff can be improved around the house by building a French Drain. A French drain is a sloped channel packed with piping and gravel to divert water runoff. Water will travel to the lowest point pulled by gravity. Often in the mountains, swift currents of water will erode the ground forming trenches carved out in the soil. When observed, this is an indication of how the water is flowing and how the ground has been graded. Spotted in the correct location to collect this flow, a French drain can help with alleviating erosion. French drains collect the water to distribute it more effectively.

When to Install a French Drain

French drains are used to alleviate water effervescence on basement walls. The clay soils of western North french drain-drainage-wet basementsCarolina soak in water and don’t drain well. This water builds up against foundation wall basements causes hydrostatic pressure to build. Too much pressure can occur and deteriorate foundation walls. If cracks are apparent, a trained professional licensed landscape contractor can access the flow of water and give suggestions on how to remedy the situation.

When building a retaining wall, it is necessary to build a French drain behind the structure to eliminate hydrostatic pressure on the wall. Extending this drain the whole length of the wall with an outage will keep the wall stable and free of water undermining the foundation and putting undue pressure on the wall.

How a French Drain Is Built

The average French drain is normally 24 inches deep and 18-24 inches wide and slopes to the outlet 3 inches for every 10 feet. Landscape fabric covers the trench and stapled. Six inches of ¾-crushed gravel is placed in the trench and socked perforated pipe is laid on top. Backfill of more ¾-crushed gravel is placed around the diameter of the pipe to provide primary support against lateral pipe deformation. Depending on how it will be french drain-storm water-Ashevillefinished on top will determine what comes next. There are options. A French drain can be finished with gravel or river stone. It can also be covered and topped with soil and grass or mulch. Depending on the finished look and the advice of your landscape contractor will determine how the final steps are performed.

If you are experiencing excess moisture in the wrong places and want to prevent damage to your basement walls or retaining walls, give us a call. We are a Stormwater BMP Inspector with NCSU and have the experience and can improve your drainage issues.

Stormwater Runoff and Soil Erosion

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Stormwater runoff is an ongoing problem in the mountains. The heavy pelting of raindrops causes compaction in the soil thereby causing more stormwater runoff not to be able to absorb into the ground. Taking measures to help the soil to be more permeable will prevent soil erosion. Let’s keep our natural resources in our yard and not migrating to the neighbors!

Add Organic Matter & Mulch

First, the soil must be aerated and conditioned to absorb the water and retain it. In WNC, most of the soil is clay. While clay contains rich nutrients, it may be too acidic or too alkaline. Working in organic matter and aged manure to the top 3 inches of the soil will lighten the heavy clay and enable the plants to absorb the nutrients they need. Clay holds water and drains slowly. Too much water on the roots of your plants can cause wet-logged roots and rot. Oxygen-poor soils will also contribute to plant decline. To prevent stormwater runoff and erosion, also add mulch to the beds to prevent soil from being impacted by strong downpours. The slow breakdown of mulch will also feed organic matter into the soil and help with water absorption.

Redirect Stormwater Runoff: Gutters, Rain Barrels, Rain Gardens

stormwater runoff-french drains-drainage-AshevilleCapturing stormwater runoff and redirecting starts often with the roof and gutters of the home or building. An adequate guttering system that holds the amount of water coming off the roof and directing it into the gutters and downspouts is the first step. Rain barrels can be set up at the exits of downspouts for later use in the garden. If working in clay soils, rain gardens can be installed and be amended with sand, topsoil, and organic compost to help with adequate permeability.

Redirect Stormwater Runoff: Swales, French Drains, Catch Basins

Filtering the stormwater runoff before it moves downhill is advantageous to neighbor properties and the health of rivers and streams. To do this, create broad, shallow swales that water can run over while soaking into the grassy surface. If water is moving at a faster speed and erosion is a problem, install a French drain below the surface. A French drain is lined with landscape fabric, dug 18-24 inches deep and wide with 6 inches of a gravel base. A 4-6 inch perforated socked pipe will sit on this surface, and backfill of gravel surrounds the pipe diameter and provides support against lateral pipe deformation under heavy loads above the surface. The surface will be lined with landscape fabric to prevent silt buildup, and topsoil and turf applied or a decorative rock placed on the surface to mimic a dry river rock bed. Transits are used to drop the pipe 3 inches every 10 feet. Measurements will ensure the water exits at the proper flow.

A catch basin has up to three inlets. This collection box redirects surface runoff and directs water to pass through to a solid, buried drainpipe. It is buried at the lowest point so that the rainwater can naturally route into it. The exiting drainpipe under the surface would deposit the water to another location or outlet that carries the water to rivers and streams.

These are some of the ways stormwater runoff can be captured and filtered, leaving the best assets of Mother Nature in your garden and lawn. If you need help identifying what you may need in your landscape, give us a call. We are a Certified Stormwater BMP Inspector and will give you the best possible solution.

Hillside Gardening: Steep Slope Maintenance & Runoff

Handling Maintenance on a Steep Slope

Walking up a steep slope demands perseverance and stamina. Making it easier to access is key to maintaining your steep slope if there’s any hope of gardening on it. While aerobics might not be palatable, there are a few ways to access with some pre-planning and not skin your knees in the process.

steep slope-hillside gardeningTerracing your steep slope is an option with retaining walls. Depending on how steep the grade, will determine the height requirements. Retaining walls are a big plus in accessing more room to garden and for increasing usability in your space. As gardeners in the mountain, we try to find every ounce of flat land we can to make it easier and accessible. Having terraces can make it easier to access and give more flexibility in your planting palette. Terracing can also relieve rainwater runoff and slow the water down to soak into the leveled areas on the terrace. This prevents erosion and gives the gardener a reprieve in the daily chore.

In smaller gardens, gardening from the edge of the pathway or terrace will suffice. In bigger gardens, paths, steps and walkways along the grade can be built for easier gardening.

Rainwater Runoff on a Steep Slope

Rainwater runoff can be a problem if not tackled alongside planning the garden. Along with terracing, winding river rock into a natural forming creek bed is another solution. Creating a creek bed down the slope, gentling grading the hillside toward this area can be an attractive and useful resolution. The water is slowed down and allowed to soak into the bed. A rain garden can be added to the base of the creek bed for an additional filtering of water and to take advantage of more gardening space.

Once the water has reached the bottom of the hillside, installing berms and French drains that will direct water away from the foundation and entertainment areas is the next step. This ensures water isn’t eroding away your home and assets.

All of these different aspects can be addressed when planning your hillside garden area. Taking advantage of the many options with a customization plan in mind is what we do. We access each area of your property and determine the best solutions for your property. Give us a call to set up a consultation.


Steep Slope Erosion Control Options

Steep slope erosion control can be a challenge and is a continual source of irritation to newcomers to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Welcome to gardening on steep slopes! The following are some ideas to make the chore not such a dilemma and easier to manage. While it might seem like a challenge, we’ll give some ideas on how to make the most of your hilly gardening venue, so you don’t ever want to move back to the flat land again.

Terracing for Steep Slope Erosion Control

Terracing can be an option to steep slope erosion control. Building retaining walls not only gives more room for gardening but also slows down the water to prevent runoff. The rainwater can be captured, and erosion is kept to a minimum or eliminated. Depending on the height of the slope and grade, will determine the use of terracing.

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Placing boulders in the bank as outcroppings can also add to erosion control and add native objects to the landscape.

If terracing isn’t an option or your grade is slighter than most, then other options come into play. Plant selection and certain mulches will retain the soil in place to prevent steep slope erosion. Placing boulders in the bank as outcroppings can also add to erosion control and add native objects to the landscape.

Plants for Steep Slope Erosion Control

Select plants for steep slope erosion control that are drought tolerant since the water will be draining off fairly quickly. This selection should include plants with deep root systems to hold in the soil and add to its drought tolerance. Select trees, small and medium shrubbery, grasses and perennials used will be good coverage to the steep slope turning it into a lush garden.

Mulches for Steep Slope Erosion Control

Mulches that hold together, are coarser and shredded will knit together better than solid chips. Double ground hardwood bark is a favorite since it is from maples and oaks. It is heavy; thus, it doesn’t blow or wash away as easy. It’s staying power is ideal for sloped beds and gardens. A depth of 2-3 inches is recommended to retain moisture and a top dressing for the beds and slopes. Pine straw can be used as well because the needles know together and don’t slide or move on a slope. Some would argue that it’s harder to blow out leaves in the fall so keep this in mind when selecting for erosion control.

If you need some advice on your steep slope, then call a professional to get the job done and keep your precious soil in place and not running out from under you!

How much does drainage repair cost?

No one likes to put money into the ground to get drainage fixed and most are looking for the most inexpensive way to do it. There are a few things to consider when you are pricing out a drainage job. The following is a list of steps and the pricing to be aware of and the process involved.

Consider the cost of NOT doing the drainage repair

The cost of an eroded foundation is quite expensive. Just to have a structural engineer give a written report is $500-700.   If water is eroding your foundation, the longer it goes neglected, the worse it gets and the more it costs. Time equals money in more ways that one.

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Drainage issues can arise along the foundation of your home can create mold and mildew in the basement or crawlspace of your home lending itself to hazardous health conditions for the air quality.

For instance, if moisture is collecting in the basement, the humidity level will increase causing mold and mildew. If a home goes on the market, the inspector will find a mold problem and remediation will be required. That comes at a $10,000 price tag.

Drainage Installation costs

Various scenarios will determine the actual cost for drainage installations but to save a headache, here is an idea of what can be expected.

Labor Costs:

For a full man crew, it is an approximately $2400-3200 per day for laborer costs (depending on the size job and men required).

Drainage repair material costs:

Add onto that price the cost of landscape fabric, staples, 10 tons of gravel to line the bed, 4-6” perforated socked piping, more gravel to fill in, haul away fee for soil debris and it’s an additional $775. If a machine is required to dig out wider and deeper, there are additional charges for the machinery of $450-575. As a result of obvious lawn damage (if the French drain is passing through the yard to exit), we would restore the lawn and re-sow with turf grass, fertilizer and straw the surface for better germination ($55 for this job). If an aesthetic look is desired at the top of the drain surface, more decorative rock (large, medium and small river rock) can be arranged to look like a dry stone riverbed with plantings tucked in around the rock. ($475 for this job) It can end up being functional and aesthetically pleasing. We’ve even decorated the top with flat flagstone for steppers. The total for this particular drain job would run between $3680-5080.

Every scenario is different and unique. If you would like to ensure the health of your family and stop the deterioration of your foundation, give us a Certified Stormwater BMP Inspector a call and schedule a consultation today.


My Basement Leaks When it Rains! Help!

Does your basement leak when it rains? Approximately 934.5 gallons of stormwater will fall from a 1500 sq. ft. roof in a 1-inch accumulation. If the water is not moving away fast enough from a foundation, water will seep down in around the foundation.  Stormwater will penetrate down to the lowest point where it will pool causing basement leaks. Water works with gravity and finds a low point. But how is water getting in?

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Replacing old drainage pipes that have been crushed and clogged.

The hydrostatic pressure against the walls often compromises concrete or cinder block walls. The soil becomes saturated with water.  Drainage can become inefficient due to a number of reasons. Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot. Multiply that by your foundation square footage. The result is a lot of hydrostatic pressure against the foundation. This pressure against a wall can compromise the mortar between each block allowing penetration of moisture. With enough water pressure, your basement leaks when it rains because the hollow cores of the blocks will fill with water. Days after a big rain, your basement will still be damp because the water underneath the surface of your lawn is still draining. Cracks and leaking can occur along the floor and wall joints.  This pressure must be alleviated.

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River stone dry beds route water away from foundations.

Basement Leaks & Solutions—

Before a plan is tackled from the inside, consider the exterior remedy. Providing sufficient drainage solutions such as proper grading or correct size gutter systems. Often times the gutter systems on houses aren’t adequate to hold the flow of water. Stormwater will spill over the sides of the gutter system onto the edge of the foundation below.  Water basins for routing water away from the foundation can be installed to keep your basement dry and free from further compromise. Old drain pipes need to be evaluated and replaced with current standards and sizes to accommodate stormwater drainage. A sump pump may need to be installed if the home is on level ground. Sump pumps give the extra energy to exit the water away from the basement foundation.

We have installed several drainage systems in Western North Carolina and the Asheville area and have a solution that will meet your needs and eliminate your basement leaks. We are a Certified Stormwater BMP Inspector. Call us today for a consultation.

A Wet Basement and The Causes

Are you wearing rain boots to the basement and in need of wet basement repair? If you’re under water or have been mopping up water in your basement, we can help alleviate the aggravation.  We will secure your foundation against more erosion and hydrostatic pressure against basement walls. Wet basements can be a sign of cracks in the foundation. Don’t wait until cracks show up in your basement. Follow these steps to ensure a dry basement and kick those boots off! 

A Wet basement and the Causes—

Grading towards the house can give concern to any homeowner and wreck havoc on the drainage. Some builders don’t take into consideration the flow of water off the roof and away from the foundation. For instance, this February mid-month (2016) we have already had an accumulation of rainfall measuring 3.52 inches. On a roof that covers an area 1500 sq.ft. multiply that number by 0.623 to find the quantity of wet basement repairswater in gallons for a one-inch depth and in a one square foot space.) The gallon total is 3289.44 gallons fallen on the roof since the beginning of February. That much water is falling down and into and around your foundation or out your gutter system. If the ground isn’t sloped correctly, it could be seeping into your crawlspaces or basement. Hence, wearing rain boots in the basement!

Downspouts that are filled with last year’s leaves and debris will certainly hold up the water flow. Bi-annual cleanouts are a must for checking good water flow and protecting your foundation and preventing wet basement repairs. After neglect, your underground water pipes could be clogged or crushed from improper installation. When installing drainage pipes, we assure initial haunching backfill by surrounding the pipes diameter. This provides primary support against lateral pipe deformation from the weight on the surface of the lawn.

We will examine the areas around your house to evaluate where the leakage is coming in and discuss a plan with you.  Be it grading away from the foundation or installing a French drain, we do it all. With the rains like we’ve had lately, many are in line for basement repairs. Call us for a consultation today! 828.774.1590.

Storm Damage and Cleanup Tips

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When a storm hits, it’s always unexpected unless you have a direct line to Mother Nature. She can be fast and furious and depending on her mood, leave broken tree limbs and piles of snow behind. We’ve compiled some advice on how to prevent storm damage to your home and garden and keep your family safe.

  1. To protect from flooding rain, make sure your yard slopes away from the house and that gutters are clear and draining properly. Improper drainage can cause foundations to crack and water seepage as a result.
  2. Every inch of rain can equate to ten inches of snow if temperatures are 32 or below. How to safely remove snow without busting the derriere is imperative. Take our advice…apply a de-icer a few hours before it snows and this will help melt accumulations up to 2 inches.
  3. Have on hand an ergonomic S-shaped shaft shovel that is lightweight plastic or aluminum blade coated with a non-stick finish to do the dirty work of shoveling out without hurting your back in the process.
  4. Get a tree-health consultation to make assure dead, damaged and diseased limbs are removed before a winter storm hits and does major damage to your home or family. We follow ANSI A300 Pruning Standards in order for your trees to receive the utmost care and remain healthy.

If you have any questions or would like drainage solutions, snow removal, storm cleanup or a tree health evaluation, call for an appointment today at 828-715-1590 or 774.1590.