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Rain Water Disaster Nightmare

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Aug 01, 2013, 01:04 AM
Rain Water Disaster Nightmare
Good Day,
My husband and I just retired from the military and bought the house of our dreams in the Florida panhandle. When we bought the house we didn't realize the major issue we have with the rain water. I have looked all over the DIY site, but I couldn't find the help we are looking for.

We live out in the country and there is a sand road leading up to our house. At one point in the road there are two large silver pipes that collects rainwater from the surrounding area around our house. There is a defined water path from the pipes to our pond. There has been so much rain that the water has run numerous other paths throughout our 4 acre lawn. Our lawn is uneven, but goes from high ground to low ground into a lake. Since the land is uneven, the water has made numerous other small ponds which is causing our riding lawn mower to sink. We can't even walk down to the lake because we are sinking into the water soaked lawn. The pond is overflowing in several locations which is causing the water to disperse all over the lawn down to the lake.

We want redirect the water back into the pond then to the lake. We would love to do it by possibly making a decorative stream and waterfalls. Is this project something my husband and I can do on our own or do we need to call in the professionals? If we can do this on our own, where can I find the "How to" video?

If pictures can help visualize our issues, let me know and I can add them.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Wade and Traci
Aug 01, 2013, 06:08 PM
Welcome to the board, and thank you both for your service.

I think the folks here who would be answering would appreciate photos. It sounds like there are multiple areas that are problematic, so many photos would be appropriate.

I think making a stream and waterfall would depend on your DIY skill level and how elaborate you want them to be.

Do you know if the soil in your yard is sand as well, or is there any clay?

And are there any drainage easements on your property? (This would be reflected in the title work for the property.) With rainwater creating so much problem, I'm wondering how the previous owners dealt with it, and if they installed any diversion system.

Also, do you know if you're in a flood plain?

There's another post with a lot of information on drainage problems and solutions. It's titled French Drain Dilemma, in the Home Improvement Section, at

The issues are somewhat different but the solutions address various drainage alternatives, which might be of help to you until others respond.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Aug 02, 2013, 01:48 AM
Thank you for your reply. It was our honor to serve this country.

It rained most of the day today, but I will go out and get several pictures tomorrow and post them.

I would like to say our DIY skill level is about moderate. In the military we moved around quite a bit and we rented most of the houses we lived in. We really tried to be DIYers so as not to burden the owners with petty stuff. Nothing was to this extent though. I would say that if it comes down to bulldozers and such, that might be out of our league.

The soil is mostly sand. I would think there is clay below. I would have to check. I don't remember seeing anything about drainage easements. We are still unpacking boxes so, once I find the title paperwork I will look for that.

Talking to the locals they are saying that this is the most water they have seen in 10 years. If the rain water was the typical amount for Florida, the previous owners probably didn't have to deal with it. It probably just drained down the natural cut in the land. Since there is so much rain, the water has breached that natural path and has started going all over the place. I do know that we are not in a flood plain.

I think if we can redirect it and give it a path, we won't have a problem anymore. Adding waterfalls, streams and ponds will give us some more beauty to enjoy.

Thank you for your interest. We greatly appreciate it. I will post pictures in the morning.
Aug 02, 2013, 10:38 AM
Thank you for your response and more background information on the situation in your yard.

It does sound like a periodic water issue, but your solution is good in that it addresses two needs - excess rainfall now and beauty later.

There's a little bit of information here on creating waterfalls and other water structures:

Water structures

And another, quite elaborate article here, although it's primarily photographic as opposed to instructional:

Elaborate waterfalls

And another, from This Old House:

Rock-Garden Pond

This site also has links to other articles on ponds; I checked a few but they
were so lovely that I had to stop my search, as I was beginning to consider adding a pond to my own yard. I do know that with ponds the issue of insect control and fish are considerations, as are plants that filter the water.

I don't know if that would also be true of streams since they're running water. I do wonder though if in years of average rainfall these streams might dry up. Would you be comfortable with that option?

The Victory Garden series shown on PBS stations has had a few occasional demonstrations of water features, with the more extensive systems being shown after completion rather than as a DIY project. But there were some small water garden projects shown from beginning to completion.

You might also try Lowes and/or Home Depot for instructional books specifically on waterfalls. It might be possible to create several smaller ponds or streams which your family can do rather than large elaborate structures which require heavy moving equipment.

And in case you didn't know, Lowes and HD both give 10% military discounts, for retirees as well as veterans.

Even though there are other issues unresolved, just studying the water creation aspect could help you decide which route(s) you want to take after gathering more information.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Aug 02, 2013, 12:31 PM
one easy way to identify the lay of the land is usually to watch for the puddles in those 1-of-25 year storms. in your case, it's more like the college planners who don't put in new sidewalks when they put up a new building. they wait to see where the "cow trails" are mashed down by the students in the lawn before they put in the sidewalks. that way, you generally only have sidewalks, not both.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Aug 04, 2013, 12:36 AM
For the past two days I have been trying to upload the photos. I have tried to make an album on here and tried to upload into photobucket. I managed to upload eight of 26 photos. I think it might be my computer so, I'm going to try on my husbands computer in the morning. Hopefully I will have photos posted soon. Sorry for the delay.
Aug 04, 2013, 10:14 AM
No apologies necessary.

If you're having trouble, you might check out this to see if there are any easier ways of uploading:

Click on Tools, Help, then How to Post Photo Albums.

Another poster, Simply_Me, has also provided some good instructions, which I copied and posted in another post. If I can find them, I'll provide a link for you.

You might want to consider adding a link to the Photobucket album now so the photos that you have uploaded are available. It's nice to be able to see them and at least get a visual idea of what the situation is, and think about it before making thorough suggestins.
Aug 04, 2013, 06:18 PM
WooHoo! I think I finally got it to work on my husband's computer. Here is the link:

Let me know if you can see it.
Aug 04, 2013, 06:50 PM
Congratulations! Very well and very professionally done.

I think there might be several issues in this drainage situation, but I also think they're well beyond my limited scope of knowledge. There are others here who are experts and could actually offer some help.

One thing I did wonder about is the multiple points of saturation and the proximity of the lake. Even though there's been a record rainfall, I'm still surprised at how saturated some parts of the lawn are. Is the lake by any chance at record high levels?

I know nothing about Florida soils but I'm wondering if there's also a high water table in your area? Do you know if there's ever been a perc test?

The only time I've seen something like what I see in your photos was at my sister's house, in the drainage ditches, but they were at the base of what I think was a drumlin, and all the water ran down and pooled in the ditch.

Thanks for taking the time to post the photos. They're really interesting and intriguing in terms of the problems you're having. I hope others can be more helpful than I ever could!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Aug 05, 2013, 01:21 PM
hope those water culverts are clean water, runoff. you have a road on the other side, by any chance? if so, the road folks need to help move that water.

little woodland critters would like that standing water by the trees, and would like it even more if you were able to dig a little pond there. leave the one side low, and lay a gravel or river rock bed down the bank.

it all depends on the soil types, source of water, and the land use regs in your area. I'd bring the pictures and data down to the city engineer, and ask them (1) if any of it is their responsibility, and (2) what they would recommend. the engineer staff should know the situation, and you've already paid them with taxes for the opinion.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?