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Question DetailsAsked on 3/10/2017

theHello,I have been researching over the past month with no success, so I surely hope you will be Able to h

I have been researching over the past month with no success, so I surely hope you will be Able to help me. We recently purchased a house and noticed quickly that our yard has a lot of drainage problems, as in it is a mud pit. Well first off all of our surrounding neighbors have their yard draining into mine. So we have the lowest property on the block, yeah how fun. Well, we also had an issue with the ground around the back of our garage eroding into the garage. The back of the garage was covered with about 2 feet of soil and tree roots have entered behind the siding. So we went ahead and built a small 1.5 -2.5 foot retaining wall to stop the erosion and hopefully allow the soil to drain a bit more. I'm not a professional by any means but the wall is helping with the erosion problem. Now my Dilemma is that I have a gap between the garage and the retaining wall that need to be filled in to prevent my children from falling and getting hurt. What can I do to fill the gap?

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4 Answers


With the dirt piled up there, sounds like the previous owner had built up a berm to stop the water - though as you realize, letting the dirt touch the siding or foundation leads to deterioration and moisture and root growth behind the siding, and commonly insect problems.

Building a retaining structure or berm to keep the water away from the house is the right approach - commonly a few to maybe 6 feet away from the house is best (to keep water from seeping in to/under foundation), and sloping the ground down away from the foundation so roof runoff, windblown rain, snowmelt etc can't saturate the foundation area either. That near-foundation runoff then has to lead to drainage away from the house too - normally to the back of the berm and then along it to a low point in the yard at least a few inches lower than the top of the foundation wall.

Other alternative - a swale or french drain or berm further out in the yard, near or at the natural low point, installed to drain to the low area of your yard away from the house, so the water moves off through natural dainage away from the house.

Third alternative - building up the back yard with fill (though still maintaining slope away from the house for drainage) so the water running into your yard is pushed towards the property line (though not onto neighbor's yard if not via natural drainage path.

You can also install perforated drain field pipe in gravel or clean rock and surface drain grates in appropriate places to intercept the water coming from neighboring properties and carry it away to the point where water normally runs off your property on the low side - again making sure the flow is not concentrated such that it causes damage to the neighbor on that side.

Sounds like your retaining wall is close to the house - so in addition to the child safety issue, you need to assure that roof runoff does not get between the house and the retaining wall and get in to saturate the foundation - gutters and proper downspouts (at least on the sides where the runoff would tend to run back to the foundation) are the usual solution to that.

As for the safety issue - you don't say how high the wall is relative to the bottom of the siding, because you do not want anything in contact with the wall which will keep it damp, or provide passage for insects or water to the bottom of the wall. Simplest solution - probably either a small fence (garden fence, which could be the green vinyl-coated wire for instance, or a picket type fence) installed either immediately in front or or behind the retaining wall, being careful to not leave sharp stakes/posts sticking up for the kids to impale themselves on. Of course, get utility locates first to avoid hitting buried utilities with the posts. Just light-duty U-shaped fence posts or cedar 2x2's driven in a foot and a half or two feet with a hammer should suffice, and wire or wire-tie the fencing to it (or use hammer-in sta[les if wood post).

Another possibility if this would alleviate your concerns and raise it enough for safety - put in pea gravel or landscape cobbles in the gap, but only up to within about 4 inches of the bottom of the wall or siding - preferably more like 8-12 inches below it in termite country, so depending on top of wall height relative to the bottom of siding this may not help.

If this is not going to do the job, then being careful not to split your siding with fasteners (there are slip-on clips for attaching cables and such to lap siding or shakes), use one of the vinyl or vinyl coated fences from the retaining wall (probably at the back), with either angled posts just leaning against the wall, or bury the bottom of roll type fencing 6 inches or so at the back side of the wall and fasten at an angle to the siding in as unubtrusive a means as possible.

The fencing I am talking about is commonly hog wire coated in vinyl, or pure vinyl plastic fencing like these, though a prefab garden border fence might work too - all available online,many box stores, pretty much all home improvement centers/stores, also at many greenhouses. And of course, any type of fence in FRONT of the wall that will keep the kids off/away from it would work - stake, vinyl, roll wire, lattice, etc. Though the more open to airflow and sunlight it is the less it will promote moss and mold on the siding.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thank you so much these are some great suggestions. The gap is about only 1.5 feet from garage to retaining wall. Not a big gap at all, that's why I know there will be a hazard for the children. I was thinking of talking rain barrels of some sort and filling the with soil and planting bushes in them. i would line the space with the barrels and create a barrier for the children. there isn't a perforated pipe behind the retaining wall which flows to each side of the garage. The area in between the retaining wall all and garage has paver which were already in place, I pulled them up and relayed the directing the water awayfrom the garage. It is still quite muddy and pools up because of how much water is back there. Wheen I step on the pavers water flows upwarS over the paver. The previous owner did have a wall built up by placing the pacers down which collapsed from the weight of the soil. my feet sink into the dirt as I walk around the retaining wall. do you think it would be okay to place barrels between the wall and garage with bushes plant d in each one. Could I plant bushes right next to the garage without the barrels, just as a barrier so the kids don't get to close to that area?

Answered 3 years ago by Jdst


Pots should be fine if you cram them tight enough together to avoid kids stepping between them - might be an issue. Or stack them on top of the wall (though likely to get knocked off at times with play) to keep them from going behind the wall. Should avoid putting them tight against wall because of moisture retention and pathway for insects.

Or you could put do-dads and driftwood artistically, but filling the gap enough to keep kids from running along there. Personally, I think running on top of the retaining wall is the primary risk, and not too big a one for kids (assuming they and visiting kids are over about 4) at that.

Actually, if a foot or more behind the wall, other than scraped shins or calves if they get back in there, I don't see it as a significant risk - not like if it was just a few inches where a foot could get trapped and break an ankle or leg as they fall or twist to get out.

Putting in-ground plantings in there will not keep kids out - and generally not a good idea to put any shrubs or trees (as opposed to bulb or annual plants) right up against the foundation because the roots can penetrate the foundation and promote foundation damage and leakage - though if the garage is slab-on-grade without foundation wall under not such a concern. Also, putting plants in there now before you resolve the overall yard drainage issue might mean taking them back out if you need to regrade that area for drainage away from the house, or to install a buried french drain to address the overall issue.

One other thing I thought of, though if the kids are small (say under 6 or so) not a good idea because of the risk of getting entangled and choking - is deer netting which is quite inexpensive (like light-weight black fishnet) and could be fastened to the retaining wall (or tucked under the top block if built of loose block) and stapled to the house - like this-

Or put water-shedding fill under the pavers (sloped away from the house to raise them up if you can do so without getting too close up under the siding/wall.

If still boggy wet against the foundation like you say - then you either have water traveling through the ground (which would need a french drain or drainage swale to intercept), roof runoff getting trapped there, or your retaining wall is not watertight enough - might have to claypack or mortar the blocks or put some fine-grained/clayey soil around the toe of the wall to stop water infiltration. Long run - since you say the whole yard is a mudpit - eventually sounds like some landscaping with regrading and drainage swale(s) to effectively make the house a slight high spot relative to the adjacent yard and the drainage swale through the yard would be needed - or filling the yard to make both yard and house the high spot, sloped to drain around the house to natural drainage along lower ground along the sides of the yard. That would get rid of the mudpit *and skeeter haven) aspect, but likely to take a lot of fill and redoing the lawn (unless you first have it desodded) to get the general yard level up out of the bog.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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