Friday, July 24, 2009

Water, water, everywhere...

We have a surface water problem. Our neighborhood consists of brick twins with garages in the ground-level basement (we're on a slope: the basement is ground-level in the back, but not the front.) Most people have asphalt driveways up to the house, and most people have paved their back alley as well. Many people have paved their garden areas in addition to the alley and driveway. All this paving results in a lot of surface water after a storm with nowhere to go. Nowhere to go, that is, until it finds my basement.

We are at the low point of our block; neighbors on both sides repaved not long before we moved in, and so their driveways are just a couple of inches higher than ours. That, coupled with the next door neighbor's faulty drainpipe means we get more than our fair share of run-off. What to do?

The first thing was adding extenders to the downspouts. Just 8 feet took the water past the point where it heads directly into my basement. However, during what my mom would call a "gully-washer" we'd still have a problem, and we are developing potholes in the alley from all the standing water.

We could just pave it; make it a few inches higher, and dump the water on some other poor chump. That doesn't seen very civic-minded and it doesn't help the environment much. While Thomas will probably like having a lot of pavement once he has a skateboard, I'm not sure my nerves can handle watching that.

I've thought about this a lot. I mean A LOT. After a substantial amount of research, I have decided that the answer is installing a green driveway. I got a quote from a landscaper to do permeable paving, but I don't like the way it looks, plus it's hard to walk on if you like high-heeled shoes. Instead, I am hoping to have Grasspave2 installed. I am very excited about this stuff because it looks just like grass (it IS grass, with a recycled plastic matrix beneath it) and it can take a lot of water. It can take my run-off as well as my neighbor's and then some. There are still many details to hammer out, but I think this is the way to go. Wish us luck; we need it!

Here's the before view: dismal, hot, not very useful, and a drainage nightmare.

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