Sunday, June 14, 2009

Plan B for vegetables, Plan XYZ for drainage problems

One little tomato plant and one ever growing, full of flowers yellow squash plant. Plus some flowers that I hope some day will be lush and overflowing the garden.

As I said in a previous blog, I'm not putting vegetable plants in the middle of my back yard. It would be the perfect place to grow them, because it would get sun all day long. My neighbor has a huge vegetable garden in his yard, but his yard is the length of 8 of our yards, so he has room to spare. His is thriving, getting all the sun a plant could want.

I am trying to see if this space on the side of my house will possibly get enough sun to grow a few vegetables. It is on the east side of the house, and now in high summer, it will get at least 4-5 hours of sun a day. My next door neighbors' big two story house is only 12 feet from mine, so there isn't much space for sun to enter. Especially not later on in the summer, I'm afraid it will be shady all day long.

I put the little squash plant out about 3 weeks ago, and it seems exquisitely happy, it must have 15 little and big blossoms on it. I bought two tomatoes to try to put into my Topsy Turvy, but they were too big to fit two of them into it, so I'm experiementing with this space to see if a tomato will grow here.

This bed was built to try to solve a very hard to manage problem with drainage around my house. In heavy storms (like one that drops about an inch every 10 minutes, the water collects in my window well leading to my basement egress window, and comes into the finished basement. The first through 4th time this happened, the room was carpeted, and a very expensive drying process had to be done to get it cleaned up. After the 4th time, I just gave up, and had the carpet removed and ceramic tile put into the room where this window is located. Now, I put towels on the window well, and once when it started to come in, I just swished the towels around, and the mess was cleaned up.

But, this did not solve the problem of the drainage situation. Because the times when the window well filled up and I averted disaster, I WAS AT HOME! I had my sump pump, extension cords, rain gear and bailing buckets all ready for the occasion. I could pump it out as quickly as I spotted it, and then no water came into the basement. But I worried about what would happen if the leak occurred and I weren't home?

So, I have been on a quest for the last three years to try to fix this problem. Here's what I've done so far:
1. Had someone dig out the entire window well down to the foundation base and refill it with clean gravel--result--not a solution, the water still came in and filled the window well.
2. Call the builder--not a solution--left town, no phone, no mailing address, so sorry Charlie! (You don't know how many people advised me to do this! Easier said than done and trying to get anything accomplished.)
3. Made a cover for the window well. Not a solution--the water came under the bottom of the well, not from the top. This solution failed exactly 15 minutes after we made the cover, because it started to rain hard, and the thing filled up immediately. The cover just made it harder for me to see the water as it gushed in and then it was almost too late to divert disaster!
4. Divert the water from the downspout (5" downhill from the window well) through a drainage pipe out into the middle of the yard, --although this helped a little, the majority of water was coming from uphill, so this didn't completly solve the problem.
5. I conferred with my landscapers more than once on this (they did the previous project work.) Several of of their guys and myself put our heads together and concurred that somehow we had to block the water from coming down the hill next to the house that was coming under the bottom of window well. By this time, the rains had scoured out a huge hole upstream of the window well, which made the situation go to critical all that much faster.

So, here's what we did. We (I say we, I supervised and advised and paid, they dug and sweated and listened) dug out a place uphill from the window well for a raised garden bed that would come out from the foundation further than the window well. It is about 12 feet long. Any place where this garden wall touched the foundation or the window well, it was lined with rubber pond liner. At the base of the window well on the downhill side, a drainage pipe was cut into it, so it could drain out into the yard before it filled up high enough to come into the house.

So, now I have a planting bed for my vegetables and flowers, and I think we have the problem licked of the water draining into the house from the egress window. We've had some pretty drenching downpours during the past few weeks, and the window well never collected water in it.

It only took 3 years, lots of phone calls, lots of money and some #^($*@&! on my part to get to this stage. Perhaps the problem is solved, and I'll have a nice garden as a result. Hope springs eternal!


Althea Tumlin said...

I think that having a plant and veggies bed around the house can help a little with the drainage problems. But I suggest that you call a professional to check and fix your drainage woes. These people know how to handle complicated drainage dilemmas.[Althea Tumlin]

Darryl Iorio said...

The simplest and best solution to your problem is to seek professional help. When I encountered the same problem, I tried to fix it myself only to end up tired and unsuccessful. Good thing a friend of mine knows an expert plumber. Another lesson learned! It’s much better to seek help than to force yourself to do something that you don’t know.

-Darryl Iorio