The Dry Well: A Popular DIY Project to Improve Your Landscape Drainage

Drainage issues are common if you’re a homeowner. You might have a situation where the basement floods every time there’s a big storm.

You may also deal with backyard flooding, which can create a swamp that’s both unsightly and likely to attract mosquitos during the summer.

The basement flooding might require you to install a sump pump. You can try that yourself as a DIY project, but unless you have significant plumbing skills, you’re probably better off calling in a pro.

As for the backyard flooding, there are various drainage systems you might set up. Today, we’ll talk about a dry well, one of the more common backyard drainage options.

You can try this one as a DIY project, so let’s detail the steps and what you’ll need.

What Will This Job Require?

If you think about the types of landscape drainage systems listed here, the reason why so many people opt for the dry well is that it’s a logical way to redistribute the water that seeps into it.

The water that goes into the dry well once it’s functional does not just evaporate. It seeps slowly from the well out into the soil surrounding it.

Because of this, the grass in that area will be very lush and green if the well functions appropriately. This makes the dry well an attractive option that you can set up in most backyards.

For this job, you’ll need a sturdy shovel, a lot of tiny pebbles, and some landscaping fabric.

You’ll have to base how many pounds of pebbles you’ll need on how long and wide the trench is that you’re going to dig and also how deep the dry well is.

How Do You Start?

The first thing that dry wells require is for you to figure out your drainage source. In other words, say you have water coming out of your basement that you’ve rerouted out into the lawn via a sump pump. You’ll probably have a gutter running out into the yard.

You want the drainage system because, if you don’t have one, that water will end up in the same spot rather than dispersing, and you get that swamp or mud puddle.

If you have kids or pets that like running around in the backyard, they’re not going to enjoy that spongy ground taking up some of their play area.

Once you determine where the basement water comes out, that should be where you start digging. You’ll dig a narrow trench where that water comes out, and it should aim in the direction where you plan to dig the dry well.

What Comes Next?

Once you have dug the narrow trench, you will mark off the dry well’s diameter and start digging that as well. Use the shovel, and make sure you’re wearing the proper footwear.

You should have sturdy boots because if you encounter roots in the soil, you’ll need to stamp down hard on the shovel’s edge to break through them.

The average well is four feet by four feet, and you should dig it a minimum of four feet down. That might not sound like a huge hole, but that should be plenty large enough for water coming from an average-sized house.

If you have a larger house with a bigger basement, there will be a larger water volume coming through the gutter from the sump pump – see more. In that case, you’ll have to dig a larger hole.

You’ll want to enlist 2-3 people to dig the trench and hole, if possible. If you’re attempting to do it all on your own, it’s going to turn into a multiple-day project.

The Finishing Touches

trench drainage system

Once you have dug the trench and the hole to the proper length and depth, you can cut your landscaping fabric into the appropriate shape and line the trench and the bottom of the dry well with it.

Then, you fill the trench and the dry well with the pebbles. You can buy these pebbles by the pound at Home Depot or Lowe’s in the garden section.

Finally, you will use some of the dirt you dug up to cover the trench and dry well. You will then get some grass seed and sprinkle it over the soil.

Once you’ve watered the grass seed and waited for it to grow, your dry well should function, and if you did a good job with the dirt and grass seed, no one will be able to tell that it’s there.

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