How to Eliminate Standing Water in the Yard


How to Eliminate Standing Water in the Yard


If your problem is standing water in a certain area of your yard, then an Underground Drainage System will usually solve your problem. The most common type is a flexible perforated pipe in the bottom of a gravel-filled trench. The trench is lined with a filter fabric to prevent the soil particles from plugging up the gravel filter and the pipe, and the pipe should drain downhill to a waterway, storm sewer, or other outlet.

Corrugated (ABS) Drain Tile is usually used for yard drainage systems. It is 4″ in diameter, and comes in coils of flexible piping, in lengths that vary from 100 ft. to 3000 ft. This is what you should use to eliminate standing water in your yard.

This type of drain tile is perforated (has holes) to allow water a point of entry, and is immersed in a bed of stone, which facilitates drainage. Stone type varies, but 3/4″ washed (clean) gravel promotes the best water flow. Never use pea gravel or compacted stone, as these will impede drainage due to the lack of space between the stones.

Here are the Lists of Materials & Supplies Needed and Tools & Supplies Needed for this project:


Materials & Supplies Needed:

  • 4″ diameter, Round, Flexible, Corrugated (ABS) Drain Tile Pipe (length to be determined by your needs)
  • 1” x 2” x 24” Stakes or (1) 1” x 2” x 8’ (which you will cut into four pieces) (amount needed dependent on your trench length and obstacles)
  • Landscape Cloth or Filter Fabric to cover all of the Pipe
  • Thin Flexible Wire (for attaching landscape cloth to pipe ends)
  • Small bag of Lawn Fertilizer
  • 3/4″ Washed (Clean) Gravel (amount needed determined by your square footage needs)


See my Post:   Formulas for Calculating Amounts of Materials Needed

  to calculate amount of Gravel needed.

Purchase Corrugated (ABS) Drain Tile Pipe at:

Purchase 1” x 2” x 8’ at:

Purchase Landscape Fabric at:

Purchase Lawn Fertilizer at:

Purchase 3/4″ Washed (Clean) Gravel at:


Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • Work Gloves
  • Long-Handled Digging Shovel
  • Flat-Head Spade Shovel
  • Pick Axe
  • Tarps (number and size dependent on your needs)
  • 100’ Measuring Tape
  • Snap-String or Nylon String
  • Line level
  • 4’ Level
  • Hacksaw
  • Pliers
  • Hand Tamper
  • Pieces of Cardboard (to be used between Tamper and Ground to prevent Soil sticking to the Tamper)
  • Stanley Knife with new Blade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden Hose

Purchase Tools & Supplies at:




Step-by-Step Instructions


Step 1 – Create a Materials & Supplies Needed Sheet

Click the following Link to see my page:   Steps Common to All Projects   for completing Steps 1 thru 4. When those (4) Steps have been completed, return here and begin with Step 5.

In order to complete this Step you will need to measure from the center of all standing water areas to the point(s) where the water will be discharged.


Step 2 – Calculate Project Cost

Step 3 – Order Your Materials & Tools Needed

Step 4 – Inspect Your Delivery

Step 5 – Contact Your Local Utility Locating Service

Follow the information for this Step, in Step 5 of my post:   How to Prevent Basement Water – Part 2


Step 6 – Cut Your Stakes, Install, and Attach String Line

Cut your 1″ x 2″s into 2′ long stakes and point the ends. Install your stakes and attach your string line, keeping it about 1″ above the ground.

Cut your 1” x 2” x 8’ into (4) equal pieces and bevel one end of each stake to a point. Pound a stake into the ground at each end of your proposed trench, with one stake about 6” to the right of center of your standing water, and the other stake about 6” to the right of center of the outlet point where the water will be discharged. You should pound the stakes in about 6” deep. Use additional stakes if needed to veer around trees or other obstacles, and about every 25′ in order to keep your string line taught.

Attach your string line to the 1st stake, and run the line to your next stake, wrapping it a couple of times around the stake and keeping the string line about 1” above the ground. Continue this until you reach the stake marking your outlet point.


Step 7 – Cut a Line Along (3) Sides of Your Trench

Punch a line through your sod along your string lines, and scrape up the sod, folding it over as you go.

Using your flat-head spade shovel, punch a line through your sod along your string line. Then punch a line through your sod at both ends of the string line. These (2) additional lines should be about 12” long (extending to the left of your string line) indicating where the trench will be.

Scrape up your sod about 1/2” below the roots, 12” wide (extending to the left of your string line), for the entire length of your proposed trench area, and fold the sod over.


Step 8 – Lay Down Tarps and Dig Trench

Lay down tarps and dig your trench, keeping topsoil an clay in seperate piles on your tarps.

Lay down your tarps at various points along the proposed trench. If it is windy, you will need some bricks or rocks to hold the tarps in place. Then, using your pick axe or your long-handled digging shovel, begin digging your trench. Keep the black dirt topsoil separated from the clay soil on your tarps. Once you begin seeing that all of your black dirt topsoil has been removed, and clay soil begins to appear, take a depth measurement and make a mental note of this. It will be important when returning the soil to the trench, since there will be soil left over.

Your trench will be 12” wide and about 18” deep at the beginning, dropping down in grade, with a 1” drop for every 10’ of length as you go along to the outlet point.


Step 9 – Create the Proper Pitch for Drainage

Fine tune your trench depth to the appropriate depth with the proper pitch.

Measure the length of your trench. Your grade for proper drainage must be a 1” drop for every 10’ of length. So, if your trench is 100’ long, your outlet point will be 10” below your starting point. Therefore, if your trench is 18” deep at the starting point, it will 28” deep at the outlet point.

You will need to periodically check your depth at every 5’, making sure that you are dropping 1/2” every time. This should be a gradual drop along the length of the trench.

Once you have roughly dug your trench to the proper depth, reposition your stakes and string line to hang over the center of your trench approximately 12” above the ground. Then recheck your depth at every 5’ intervals, making any corrections needed by removing or adding soil. You can use your flat spade shovel to fine tune your depth. Any soil added should be tamped down with your hand tamper, using a piece of cardboard between your tamper and the soil to prevent soil from sticking to the tamper. Continue down the entire length of the trench until completed.


Step 10 – Install 2” of Gravel Below New Piping

Install 2” of gravel at the bottom of your trench. Make sure that your pitch remains in place as you go along.


Step 11 – Install Filter Fabric or Landscape Cloth

If you are using pipe that comes with a sock already installed, you can skip this Step. If NOT, install your filter fabric or landscape cloth.

Line the trench on top of your gravel with filter fabric or landscape cloth so that it covers the bottom and extends at least 18” up each side of the trench. Assuming that the width of your trench is 1’ wide, you will need to cut your fabric or cloth with your stanley knife, into 4’ wide strips. Overlap any adjoining strips of fabric or cloth by about 1’, placing the higher piece of fabric or cloth over the lower one. You can just keep the excess 18” near the outer most sides of the trench.


Step 12 – Install Your Drain Tile Pipe

Install your drain pipe, orientating your perforated holes. Recheck your pitch and adjust as needed.

Lay down your drain pipe, orienting your perforated holes horizontally on the sides of your pipe, recheck your pitch, make any necessary corrections, and recheck your pitch again until it is completely correct, all the way along the entire trench.


Step 13 – Cover Your Pipe With Gravel and Fabric

Install about 12″ of gravel on top of your pipe and cover width your landscape fabric. Cover the ends of your pipe with landscape fabric as well.

Before installing your gravel, reset your string line around the perimeter, placing it at 12” above your pipe. Then, cover the pipes with 12” of your clean, coarse gravel (which will be up to your string line), and fold the excess landscape fabric on either side over the top of the gravel layer. You will also need to cover the inlet and outlet for your pipes with landscape fabric, wiring the fabric on to the pipe tightly so that it does NOT come loose. You can tighten the wire with pliers.


Step 14 – Replace Your Soil in the Trench

Replace the soil into your trench, remembering to begin installing the good black dirt topsoil at the proper depth. Tamp after installing, except for the top 2″ of topsoil.

Using your long-handled pointed shovel, replace the soil that was removed when digging the trench, compacting it with your hand tamper after every foot of soil reinstall. Make sure to use cardboard between your tamper and the soil to prevent soil from adhering to the tamper.

Referring to the mental note that you made concerning the depth of your topsoil, remember to begin installing your black dirt topsoil when you reach that point in your trench. You will NOT tamp the final 2” of black dirt topsoil that you reinstall. Remember to keep the top of your trench level with the surrounding ground. Since the final 2” of soil were not tamped, the ground will compress enough to allow for your sod to be packed down, keeping your grade level.

You will have about 14” of soil left over as a result of installing the gravel. Make sure that the leftover soil is your clay soil, and that you replace your good topsoil at the top of the trench. You will either need to find a use for this leftover soil, or you will need to have it hauled away.


Step 15 – Replace Your Sod

Replace your sod, firmly seat the roots, fertilize and water.

Now, fold your sod back over your trench, stepping down on every square inch of it, in order to firmly seat the roots back into place and insure that your grade is level with the surrounding ground. When finished, hand sprinkle a little lawn fertilizer on the sod and water in thoroughly. You will need to keep the trench area watered down for about 7 days, to insure that the sod fully roots.


Congratulation on Your Completion!

Hopefully this will put an end to any unwanted Standing Yard Water.


Please take the time to leave a Comment, letting me know how your project went.



CJ Dodaro

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