Bring on the rain

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On Wednesday I spoke with RT, the friend (kind of; through our sons) who mows my lawn (kind of as a favor, but I pay him.) I told him about the drain pipe that tilted in the wrong direction. He agreed to fix the problem and said he'd come over the next day to look at it and size up the task. I emailed the contractor who hired Mr. J, the guy who buried the pipe, and told him I'd lined up someone else to fix the mess. Wonder of wonders, Mr. J showed up bright and early the next morning. He didn't knock on the door or announce his arrival in any way. By the time Mike looked out the window he had dug up the drain pipe. By the time he left there was a trench in the yard that varied in depth from 2 to 3 feet and was more than 100 feet long. That night he called me and said the work he'd done that day cost $900, and finishing the job was going to cost $2300 on top of the $11k I'd already paid. (It was at this point in the process that I wrote the last blog entry.)

Mike's feeling of outrage was greater than mine. My own outrage was tempered by my relief at seeing the work get done. Besides, what was I to do? Tell him to stop working and leave a trench in my yard? RT hadn't given me any indication of when he'd be able to do the work, and I was fairly desperate to get it done. I told Mr. J to go ahead and finish the job. He reburied the pipe, and added a square junction box that looks like a drain and connects a second pipe that extends about twenty feet perpendicular to the main pipe. He filled the trench with gravel and dirt, spread the excess dirt around, scattered grass seed on it, and, finally, covered the seed with straw. I wrote him a check.

This drainage system is major overkill. Mike and I had kept the basement dry for five years with a hand-dug trench that was no more than 8 inches deep at any point. The key was that the trench bottom sloped continuously downward from the back to the front, providing a nice little watercourse that I referred to affectionately as the aqueduct. (It's not that hard. You pour in a little water as you dig, and watch where it goes.) Unless we get some biblical flooding in the coming years, this new system will represent $2300 down the drain, so to speak. Ha ha.

While Mr. J got the pipe buried properly, he didn't regrade the back yard. There were still low areas fifty feet from the drain pipe where water was pooled and sod was rotting. That, we fixed ourselves. I finished the job this past weekend, spending about 10 hours pulling up rotting sod, digging, and hoeing until I had created a shallow watercourse. I scattered grass seed and covered it with straw left behind by Mr. J, until I ran out, anyway. I know. It's the wrong time of year to scatter grass seed. But if I can keep it moist it should sprout, then when the rains come it'll get a good start before winter. In theory. Fingers crossed that the back yard won't be a sea of mud again this year.

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May 2009

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