Edited: Not to be confused with the new posts, this DIY project was done in our old house many years ago back in 2010.

I kept putting off these 2 huge projects (front yard + backyard) for many years, but it’s time to do it. Before jumping into landscaping, I need to fix one huge problem – Our backyard has drainage problem due to grading, the grass near the fence is so wet after raining that you can’t even walk on it, it’s like a swamp.

What caused this problem?

This drainage problem DID NOT exist when we first got the house, however after 4-5 years this problem becomes more serious. The causes are:

  1. My downstream neighbors raised the grading by putting flower beds, or simply adding sod or top soil to level their lowest point that blocks the drainage
  2. After putting up the fence, the lowest point in my yard is fully shaded. Without enough sun light so water doesn’t evaporate fast enough

Analysis of Problem and Interesting Findings

Before fixing the problem, let’s examine how much water there is. I excavated the lowest point by hand manually. I learned that water flows from my left hand side neighbor (my upstream) to me, then continue to flow to my right hand side neighbor (my downstream). You can see it was pretty horrible after a huge storm, it was like a creek and the water was not going to evaporate or drain fast enough.

For some houses, there is an option to re-route the water to the front or the street. However, in my case it is impossible due to the huge slope (8′ in height)  resulting back yard being the lowest point. 

Solution – Weeping Tile, French drain/trench and Dry Well

I spent quiet some time looking for solution on the Internet, the French drain + Dry Well is the best option in my case.  After I  installed the weeping tile with the gravel, as you can see in the picture –  left hand side was no longer flooded with water, all the water went to the right hand side (lowest point). Next, I dug a 3′ deep dry well. Ideally, the dry well should be 6′ deep and much bigger in diameter. But due to many limitation, that’s all I could do.  That should fix 80% of the water problem, the rest will  flow slowly downstream to my neighbors (this is by design from the original grading that the builder put it together).

Front Yard makeover

We ordered the materials from a local hardscape supply, everything got delivered in 3 days at our door. Awesome! Total we spent is around $1100 CAD with tax.

  • 2 pieces (1480 lbs) Chocolate Armour Stones
  • 1 piece (840 lbs) Mica Quartz Stones
  • 3 pieces (660 lbs) Granite Balder Stones
  • 3 pieces (480 lbs) Iron Stones
  • 2 tons of 1-3″ Pebbles River Stones
  • 3/4 tons Alabama Gold
  • 2 sections of Unilock NorthShore Interlocking stones 2″x10″

I used the water hose to draft the shape that I wanted and then spray painted on the grass. To save some money, I reused the sod I excavated to create a small hill on the right hand side, so that I could buy minimal top soil to fill the area. At the end, I only used around 10-12 bags of top soil for the new grading. The bamboo edging we bought from a local nurseries looks pretty decent, but they cost like $17 CAD for 3 feet. It’s very expensive.

The challenge – Moving the large stone

The most challenging part was to move the huge Chocolate Armour Stone without machines. That particular stone weights around 900 – 1000 lbs and I wasn’t able to flip it easily by bare hands like the other stones. I love challenges, and I do believe that if Egyptian could move 900 tons stones 2000 B.C. for the pyramid without machines. Me, one person should be able to solve this challenge by using basic Physics:  Lever and Friction. There are so many information on the Internet, GFGI and I am not going to discuss that. Well, it took me a while to get it out of the crate and landed on the flower bed which was less than 15 feet but it is proven it’s doable by one person.


  1. awesome and inspiring.  I have a similar problem with my yard.  How far deep does the yard go?  And what did you do with all the dirt?  I’m in Toronto too

  2. hey.
    Your solution may work fine, but problem will be early spring time. Snow will be melted, but weeping tile will be still frozen, and you will have water again…At least I have this issue.

  3. Hi vit100… yes, that is  true in very early spring but as soon as it gets warmer, it’s should be okay. It did solve our problem because before we did the drainage project,  it was like a swamp even in summer time after heavy rain.

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