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Downspout Drama: What To Do When Your Neighbor’s Pipe Floods Your Lawn

Downspout Drama: What To Do When Your Neighbor’s Pipe Floods Your Lawn

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You wake up and decide to sit on your porch for an al fresco breakfast, only to be met with a disgruntling view. Your neighbor’s downspout is flooding your yard!

The lawn is drenched, your plants are waterlogged, and you question the safety of walking on the surface.

Your first action should be to contact your neighbor regarding this issue. If all goes well, they’ll likely help you get rid of the downspout.

If not, you’ll need to get creative and find other methods to manage the excess water flow.

From French drains and catch basins to berms and dry wells, there are several drainage systems to suit your garden needs.

Stick around to learn more about managing your neighbor’s downspout flooding the yard.

Causes of Your Neighbor’s Downspout Flooding Your Yard

The excess water downspout can be a result of multiple issues. Here are some below.

Landscape Changes

Your neighbor’s landscape setting could be the culprit to your flooding yard. Landscape changes can trigger the water flow, whether they installed a new feature or removed vegetation.

Bottom Slope Position

Another probable cause of your flooding predicament is your home’s placement.

Your home could be positioned at the bottom of a hill or in a low area. Consequently, most water gathers in your garden like a catch basin.

The Effects

Leaving your land flooded can garner some intense damage. Check out some of the effects below.

Pest Infestations

Where there is excess water, mosquitos and other pests are likely lurking. The water surface attracts them because it creates an ideal breeding ground for them to lay their eggs.

When pests pick up moisture using their sensory organs, they assume that food is nearby. Consequently, if the issue persists, these pests might enter your home.

Aside from pests, your lawn could experience fungal and algae infections from the excessive moisture.

Drowning Lawn

After putting in hours of work on your lawn maintenance, a downspout can wash away all the upkeep.

You may have plants prone to water-logging, which will likely experience root rot from the excess moisture.

Plus, the overwatered grass will likely suffocate from the extra layer of water and die off like the other plants.

Slippery Surface

After experiencing the downspout, your lawn is teeming with streams and water. Subsequently, the surface becomes slippery and challenging to walk around on.

Methods to Redirect the Water

Before taking action and redirecting the downspout, you’ll need to inform your neighbor about the issue. They may not be aware of the flooding in your yard.

If things go as planned, your neighbor will attempt to find a solution, and you’ll be closer to a flood-free yard. If they’re not cooperating, you can resort to the options below.

Method #1: Construct a French Catch Basin

A French catch basin involves creating a trench where you install a pipe to catch the draining water and redirect it away from your yard.

Building the basin requires pre-planning. For starters, you’ll want to ensure that the area you dig the trench is free from communal pipelines.

You can call your utility provider to verify that. Once you prepare the design and outline of the pipe, you can start digging.

Step 1: Dig the Trench

Before digging, plan where you’ll keep the extra soil. For instance, you can use it to create a miniature garden.

When digging, you need to maintain a downward slope. That way, the water will flow away from your premises.

As a rule of thumb, for every hundred feet, dig a one-foot drop. The end of the line is where you’ll place the catch basin. That’s where all the water will gather after flowing downward.

Step 2: Lay the Pipe

After digging the trench, lay out landscape fabric over the hole. Then, add gravel as bedding for the four-inch perforated pipe.

The gravel will also keep dirt off the pipe to prevent clogging issues.

Step 3: Backfill the Pipe

Once you’ve laid everything out, add more gravel to the pipe and cover the area with the landscape fabric. Next, backfill the site with soil.

French drains usually last around five years before they need a pipe replacement.

Method #2: Create a Berm

Another fool-proof method to evade a flood from your neighbor’s downspout is to build a berm.

In essence, berms are ridges with a raised soil bed that’ll block the water flow from your neighbor’s pipe.

They’re one of the fastest solutions on this list. Plus, you can take advantage of them by decorating them with flowers and aesthetic vegetation.

Step #1: Plan the Berm

To start, plan the shape of your berm. For example, you can build a C-shaped one to create the most effective water-push method.

You’ll want to start small before building up to a taller berm. The structure needs to be solid to prevent erosion.

As a rule of thumb, its width should be four to five times its length to make for a gradual downward slope.

Step #2: Prepare the Soil

Landscapers divide berms into layers. The top layer comprises the topsoil. The middle layer’s soil has a clay-like consistency.

When you’re done with that, fill the dirt at the bottom of the berm. We suggest fortifying your mound with lines of stone and gravel as well.

Step #3: Add Plants

After constructing the berm layers, you can start planting your vegetation. Make sure the plants you choose can withstand dry weather.

You can opt for native grasses, perennial flowers, and a vast array of succulents and cacti.

Method #3: Build a Dry Well

Building a dry well is one of the most effective but challenging solutions. It involves digging an underground region to store the excess water flow.

The well collects the water. Meanwhile, the soil underneath absorbs the water.

To create one, dig a hole over 30 to 70 feet deep and 3 feet in diameter. After digging the hole, line it with a perforated casing. The casing will absorb the water from the top and accumulate it in the underground tank reserve.

Like the French drain method, you need to plan and ensure the absence of community pipelines under the area you’ll dig.

Method #4: Build a Catch Basin

A catch basin requires an underground reservoir to catch the flowing water. Its top part usually has a grated lid to allow water to pass through.

When building the basin, place it near the downspout for maximum efficacy. Once you fit the structure, create an outlet hole for the downward-sloping pipe to direct the water away.

Method #5: Plant Trees

Trees and shrubbery act like sponges. They can absorb excess water coming from your downspout.

Nevertheless, you’ll likely need to use this method with another drainage system for better results.

Method #6: Slabjacking

The downspout may be pointing toward a concrete region. In this case, you can raise the surface with slabjacking.

The method requires a professional to pump a special filling under the concrete slab to elevate it. It’ll work by redirecting the water runoff from your garden.

Is It Legal for My Neighbor’s Downspout to Flood My Yard?

According to the common enemy rule, a homeowner can legally eliminate surface water on their land without worrying about the repercussions of it landing on another homeowner’s land.

Consequently, you’re responsible for any water that drains your way.

The only case where your neighbor is legally accountable is if they change the water flow in their land through landscape installations.

You could consider suing the neighbor, but the process is costly and time-consuming.

You’ll need to document the issue extensively by providing building codes, zoning ordinances, and water and sewer laws.

For this reason, we suggest attempting to reason with your neighbor initially. If that doesn’t work, you can choose a method to redirect the downspout.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the logistics behind a downspout can be challenging. Nonetheless, before you take any sort of action, you should inform your neighbor about the issue.

If they’re not cooperating or willing to do anything, you can take matters into your own hands and shovel.

The good news is that you can choose between several methods to control the downspout, such as berms and French catch basins.

Either way, you’ll want to work fast to save your lawn from the damaging effects of flooding.


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