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Question DetailsAsked on 11/1/2017

Can I have concrete put in front of my foundation so the yard slopes away from my house?

Front yard slopes in to the house front, causing rain water to pool up. would a concrete buildup be better than a sump drainage solution?

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Where you have the opportunity, keeping the water away from the house is always better than a drainage solution at the house - though with some houses in depressions or swampy areas that is not always feasible or economic.

But, you can use a drainage swale (should be least 6-10 feet from the house depending on how free-draining your soil is, to keep water from getting to the house through the soil). You can build a berm of earth (or earth with plastic liner embeded in it with very free-draining sands or gravels for instance) to keep water away from the house - though in that cse you need to provide drainage at some point (or in extreme cases a sump pump) to get rainfall/snow landing close to the house to drain away from the house and over the berm at a low point.

Many times (bearing in mind the dirt, or concrete pad, should stay 4 inches clear of the bottom of siding or top of foundation, whichever is lower, or more like 8-12 inches in invasive insect areas) you can use soil to build a ramped surface sloping away from the house sloping at least 2% (and preferably more like 10% if possible) away from the house for preferably 6 feet (at least 3 feet even in clayey/silty non-draining soils), and at the bottom of the ramp it might free-drain around the house and away - or may need a drainage swale or sometimes drainage french drain with culvert to drain the water to a low point where is can safely discharge and not make its way back to the house.

When using berming or a ramp or such to control water or drain it away, generally just common earth, assuming it has some clay or silt in it, will work provided the surface 2-4 inches is compacted to limit infiltration. Just a hand-tamper (about $25 from box stores and Amazon and such) can compact the soil enough to make watopen work talus slope rock, etc you may need to put in a sloping plastic (pond liner) plastic sheet under the surface (sloped to drain the right way), or put a layer of compacted topsoil over the top to provide an impermeable enough surface. In clean sandy/gravelly soil you also have the option of mixing in some portland cement (roughly 4-8% by volume for many soils) for a couple of inch thickness and then watering and keeping it wet for several days to make a soil-cement surface.

If you use ramping/sloping to drain the water, that does not have to be your surface material (though should slope at least 4-5% or so if buried) - you can put in a drainage soil (or plastic) layer then overtop with decorative rock or open clean gravel or loose topsoil plantings which the planting process does not penetrate the runoff layer (roots are generally OK). Just make sure the topping layer is free-draining, and if plantings the surface of the planter soilshould also slope about 4% or more away from the house.

And yes you can use concrete - like a 1-2% cross-sloped walkway (in areas without icing conditions) or even a patio or courtyard or such sloped to drain away from the house - but of course that is a lot more expensive than most soil or plastic liner alternatives, and not generally a DIY solution for most people. And you need to be sure the joint between house and walkway if waterproofed so the commonly significant splash against the house does not run down into the crack and pool there. Actually asphalt paving is commonly easier and cheaper to use for this is desired - could even be a patio or basketball halfcourt (sloped up more at the house) or such - if concrete is used, the construction and expansion joints need to have waterstop put in them (not a major additional expense but most sidewalk and paving contractors have never used it) so the joints do not become drains for the water that is supposed to be running off.

Ideally, in low-lying areas, the house would be built on a mounded up dirt mount to keep water away from the house, but not all builders are that thoughtful or conscientious.

And of course, limiting the water getting to that area is a big step forward and sometimes almost all the battle - gutters with downspouts and runouts or drain pipes to get the roof runoff away from the house (which is normally the major souyrce of the problem), and diverting any surface flows coming toward the house over the ground away before they get to the property or house - again with berms, planters, landscaping walls, swales, or french drains as desired and feasible for your case.

Oh - and on gutters - bear in mind all gutter covers eventually clog up with debris and then overflow to the ground, so if you use gutter covers (not something I recommend) then schedule regular cleaning to avoid overflow. And if in an area with "gully-washer" or tropical storm rains or gutter icing conditions, gutter covers can't handle those types of situations without causing overflow onto the ground right by the foundation, so consider that.

Ideally, with gutters/downspouts and a bit of creative landscaping, usually you can avoid using foundation drainage to control surface water problems - but in cases where the natural groundwater level is high you sometimes have no choice there, but still best to limit the water sources at and near to the foundation as much as possible. Commonly, controlling the worst of it, except in areas with non-draining soils, gets the waterinflow down to the point where the ground will soak it up and let it drain pretty vertically (assuming groundwater level is not high), keeping it from causing a foundation/basement water issue.

You can find a LOT of previous questions with answers, some of which have checklists of ways to control the water and then handle the rest, in the Home > Basement Waterproofing link, under Browse Projects, at lower left.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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