French drain, gravel pit, or water bog?

Jason Carlton
13 days ago
last modified: 13 days ago

The previous homeowners built a garage at the bottom of a slope, but didn't give a lot of thought to drainage. The garage faces East and the slope is to the North, so most of the yard where the slope meets the garage is totally shaded, too.

This means that about 10 x 30' of lawn is mud and moss, and when it rains a lot then it floods the garage.

My thoughts on fixing it are:

1. A French drain. This is probably the best idea, but it would need to run about 100'! Doing it myself is going to take forever, and will end up costing close to $1,000 (including the rental of a trencher) :-O

2. A gravel pit. I'm not 100% sure on this, but I suspect I would need to rent something to dig a hole about 4' deep along the garage, then fill it 3 - 3 1/2 feet with something like crusher run, then top it with pea gravel. Still pretty expensive, especially after factoring in the rental of a backhoe.

3. A water bog... basically a pea gravel garden. This would be cheapest option in that it would actually use the water instead of running it away, and I guess that I would only need to cover about 8 - 12" with pea gravel and then fill it with shade-loving water-loving plants (I'm thinking rhododendron and hostas). It would also spruce up the blank garage wall. Downside, though, is that the garage would most likely still flood.

What would you guys and gals do?


Here you can see the whole area next to the garage. There are downspouts from the roof on both sides, too, that just add to the flooding. For a day or 2 after it rains, I usually have standing water up to the sidewalk that expands for about 10'.

I sowed tall fescue twice this year. The rest of the lawn sprouted well, but there's nothing here but clover and moss. You can see right next to the sidewalk that I began to transplant some dwarf mondo grass in the hopes of staunching some of the runoff, but even that's not doing well.

Same picture as above, but the red lines shows where the slope ends. From the red line to the garage is more or less flat, and to the left of the line is the slope upward.

Closer view of the ground itself. It last rained about 5 days ago, and it's still muddy and squishy to walk on. The black you see is coffee grounds that I spread in an attempt to discourage slugs, grubs, moles, and my dogs that like to dig after the pests.

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