Recent Posts

Monday, April 13, 2015

Installing French Drains and Other Things

While April showers do bring May Flowers….

We have also found out why there was so much water damage to the back of the house causing Mr. Décor to replace all of the back siding last January.

Both the Mr. and I have been toiling in the backyard this past week. We have been logging hours upon hours of backbreaking labor to try and create what resembles a landscaped yard/garden. It was only when it rained buckets that we discovered …“Fort Worth, we have a problem.”

French drain 013

So, there are two issues. The first is we have clay soil where we live. It takes awhile for the ground to soak up excess moisture. This is particularly an issue as there is one air conditioning unit next to the back door that services the upstairs. I don’t think they work very well when a portion is underneath a few inches of water.

French drain 014

But the real culprit is that our yard is sloped from the fence TOWARDS our house. It’s hard to capture the angle on camera and it’s hard to show you this horrible “Before” but Mr. Décor has come up with a solution that we hope will result in a glorious “After”.

Storybook Cottage Yard Living Room 001-001

Installing a French drain. Which works like this:

So a basin was placed on both sides of the back door. (A sidewalk separates the two areas.) This was before the Mr. dug a deep hole as you want the majority of the basin under the ground.

French drain 113

Then a long trench is dug for the hose. Which as you can see by the illustration above is then surrounded by gravel to keep it in place and then once again covered with sod.

French drain 112

When it rains the excess water drains back out to another area of the yard. Which means that my rose trees and French lavender actually now have a chance of growing instead of drowning. While I would have loved to top the area with pea gravel it would probably just sink into the soft clay soil so we used brown mulch.

French drain 114

Now isn’t that an improvement to what it looked like before? I’m not even sure you could call this landscaping.

Decor To Adore 001

This is a “during” shot after I dug several rocks out of the earth and ripped out the three hedges, one of which was dead. Ever faithful Franz (the dark spot in the right corner) was constantly by my side and somehow has developed a taste for grubs. We believe his keen scent and knack for digging would also make him an excellent truffle hound.

Decor To Adore 006

Although I am not a gardening expert I do know it is wise to select a color and style theme. As I mentioned HERE we are going for the simple French garden look. This correlates to roses, green hedges, lavender, urns and simple statuary. Our color palette with be white, purple, green, lavender and pops of peachy pink.

Once an area is cleared away laying out plants is a good idea. We actually decided against three roses trees in this tiny area and planted only two.

Storybook Cottage Yard Living Room 050-001

I am now currently working on the large center “island” in the yard.


Storybook Cottage Yard Living Room 004

In clearing out this “Before” I discovered two strings of buried Christmas lights, more rocks, dead roots and of course numerous weeds.

Storybook Cottage Yard Living Room 020

The tools of my trade:

A hard metal rake to clear away years old mulch and debris. A pick ax to take out large roots. A small stool and hand trowel for the four hours it takes to remove all the weeds into a large bin.

French drain 007

After numerous trips to empty the large bin I ended up completely filling our large garbage tote in the effort to clear the area.

French drain 008

As you can see once the area was cleared the second member of the grub patrol was sent in for inspection.

French drain 011

Dachshunds were originally bred in Germany to hunt down and remove badger. Hunters would risk injury to themselves and their horses if the horses leg would fall into a badger hole. The solution was to eliminate the badger which resulted in a dog with short legs, a long skinny body and the strongest jaw of all the breeds. Not to mention an affinity for digging.

French drain 003

Rudi, ever loyal,  would have gone all the way to China if I hadn’t commanded “Stop, bath time!” But truly no grub or squirrel stands a chance.

French drain 006

Just as in designing a room I felt like the “island” needed a focal point. I had already blown my gardening budget on annuals and perennials so I decided to shop the yard. In a small corner amongst two trees, a half dead palm and an overgrown vine like weed gone wild I spied an ill placed birdbath.

Storybook Cottage Yard Living Room 013-001

It took the strength of both Mr. Décor and I to yank out the birdbath, clean it up and place it in the center of the island.

French drain 118

We are going to try and use it as a planter as I can’t imagine trying to keep it filled with clean water given its immense weight. I have placed a few plants about and they will go into the ground soon.

French drain 117

I have a feeling that this is going to be a lengthy ongoing project as most of the yard remains one giant “BEFORE” shot. :)


Linking to:

Between Naps On The Porch, Remodelaholic, Classy Clutter, Stonegable, A Stroll Thru Life, Not Just A HousewifeA Bowl Full of Lemons,Someday Crafts, The 36th Avenue, Ivy and Elephants, Savvy Southern Style, Katherine’s Corner, The Blissful Bee, Posed Perfection, My Fabuless Life,The Style Sisters, Sew A Fine Seam, Craftberry Bush, French Country Cottage, The Shabby Nest, Imparting Grace,My Romantic Home,The Charm of Home, AKA Design + Life, Shabby Creek Cottage, Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,The Dedicated House


marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh it is all going to be so pretty when you finish. Love the rose trees and the island will look amazing.

Karena Albert said...

Laura you and Mr. Decor amaze me with your perseverance with these ongoing household and yard issues. The end result is a cheerful, creative and glorious garden, and I hope you feel well worth the difficult work involved!

The Arts by Karena
Artist Nathaniel Galka

Linda said...

It's looking great!! : )

I come from a family all well advised on the issues of drainage, lol - seriously, it was an issue at some of our family homes and Dad is an expert on fixing those kinds of issues. Also, my parents and I have always done all of our own landscaping/yard work - I well know how tiring it is, but it's very rewarding when you see the lovely results and you're well on your way! ♥

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

It's all so pretty and green, and it's a lot of work. We've had water issues at two homes.The first time we encountered this was in California, the house set lower than the river behind the house, and it required at least five or more french drains connected in a semicircle leading to trenches that went down the sides from the backyard to the street, and the results were amazing the first time it rained! The physics of the French drain are really cool.

Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Oh my goodness! What a back-braking project but well worth the effort. I can't wait to see your garden plan come together!

Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME said...

Oh wonderful yard work. We just cleaned up our citrus and hosed off the patio. I was soaking, I mean soaking wet....but all is clean, once again!

GSGreatEscaper said...

Laura, your family does more in a weekend than mine has accomplished in a quarter century. What a showplace your home will be.

At Rivercrest Cottage said...

Due to the clay ground, we took out a planting bed and put in a flagstone patio in our front yard. So much better than trying to keep soppy plants alive in the clay soil with the hot Texas sun.

martinealison said...


Quel courage que de tout drainer ! et remettre le jardin à neuf !
Mes félicitations.

❀ ✺ Gros bisous ✺ ❀

Christine Freeman said...

You might want to consider raised beds. They're incredibly simple to build and it eliminates the worry of clay soil, and helps control weeds. If I can build a 24' x 4' x 36" tall in one weekend, you and Mr. Decor could build it an an entire greenhouse. Read up on no-till gardening, rather than continuing to try amending the soil. Mulch does, but that clay layer will never go away.

You've done a lot of work and it really shows. I work my landscaping on 3 of my 6.5 acres alone and sometimes it's overwhelming! :) Beautiful. Your work is going to give you seasons of smiles.

Kelley said...

Oh, my girl. Oh, my. Oh.

That's all I can manage.

Oh, my girl. Oh, my. Oh.


P.S. Great is your reward...............

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

I have a French drain under my house and one on the patio and it has helped a lot, so I hope yours will do a great job as well!

Auntie Em said...

Ahhhh....the joys of digging out drainage trenches and getting rid of water problems. Your roses are so pretty and your yard will be gorgeous. Wise to get the basics fixed up first instead of digging all your work up to repair it later on.

We did this project all the way around our house two years ago and it has made such a difference. A lot of work since they had to dig down about eight feet all around the perimeter of our foundation. All the plants and shrubs had to come out and the mud that tracked in was unreal but as the spring rains hit, we appreciated every bit of it. :)

Rue said...

I feel bad about your water plight, but I did find it funny that you love French decor and you ended up getting a French drain. I find humor in the oddest places ;)

Those grub getters are awfully cute.