For many years we’ve had a serious drainage problem in our back yard …. every time it rained, we would get a big puddle in the back yard that would stick around for at least a week.  The picture to the left is the back yard 3 or 4 days after a heavy rain.

At one point, Ginny was thinking about having a rain garden put in the back corner, but I wasn’t a big fan of that idea.  We ended up dropping the idea because it would have taken a fair amount of maintenance.

In addition, our sump pump outlet was really close to the house and was not at all protected from freezing.  More than once the sump pump pipe would freeze in the winter, after we had a thaw, and the pump would get close to burning out because it couldn’t pump water.  Luckily I’ve always been home when this has happened … so I was able to remove the frozen section of PVC pipe and have it just dump out on to the lawn.

(If you haven’t noticed, we’ve had our fair share of water related house problems)

For years I kept saying I was going to get these two problems resolved.  Well, I finally got off my butt and had it taken care of.

When I first started thinking about getting the problem fixed, I emailed with the Hoffman Estates village engineer … he said we could either regrade the area (put more soil in the area and sod on top of that) or install drain tiles (basically perforated pipes that tied into the storm sewer system).  He recommended the drain tiles because it wouldn’t push the problem into our neighbors yard.  I also found out that it was possible to get my sump pump tied into the same piping, so there would no longer be a risk of pipe freezing.

So in the early spring of this year I started contacting landscaping contractors to get estimates.

I decided to get more estimates than I usually do (which is 3) because this was an area that I really had no idea about what was reasonable.  This, I found out, was a very good idea.

I ended up getting a huge variation in the amount it was estimated to cost.  From less than $1000 to more than $4000.  The level of detail also varied dramatically … from a hand written estimate on a note card, to a fully itemized estimate with marked up satellite photos (from Google Maps).

I ended up going with DLS Landscaping … they didn’t have the lowest estimate, but it wasn’t the highest … and they provided the most comprehensive quote.

After the estimate was accepted, it took a while for the project to get underway … the village permits had to be obtained, and we had a lot of rain in the spring, so we had to wait for the lawn to dry out a bit.

They finished the job in about 3 days … with only a few glitches.  All in all, I’m quite pleased with the work that was done.  The back yard looks great and we have no ponding.  The picture to the right was taken a day AFTER we had very heavy rain.  We lost the tree that was in the back corner of the yard, but neither Ginny or I was very fond of it anyways.

I only have a few gripes about the work that DLS Landscaping’s crew did … and, in the end, they aren’t very major and were (generally) quickly resolved …

  • The work was supposed to start on Wednesday and take 3 days, so I arranged to work from home the for those days, but they didn’t show up on Wednesday & didn’t call.  Dave Swanson was apologetic about the delay and said they would definitely be there on Thursday.  Which they were.
  • At one point, while I was on a conference call for work, they did something that caused a temporary phone outage, but quickly repaired it.
  • On Monday, as they were finishing up, they accidentally cut the coax for the cable TV that went from the box on our house, through the garage, into the family room.  To be fair, they didn’t know the cable was there because Comcast didn’t label it.  I told Dave about it the next day and his guys came out the next day and fixed it.

I was a bit concerned about the water that remained in the drain box that’s in the far corner of the yard (where the drain tiles connect to the pipe that goes out the the storm sewer), but Dave tells me that’s normal. There’s a lip in the box so that dirt & stones don’t flow into the storm sewer, and that’s keeping a little water in the box. I suspect I’ll have to clean the box out once a year or so.

This is the major home improvement project for the summer (I hope). Not sure what we’ll do next year. I’d still like to get a home energy audit, so we can get possibly save on our gas & electricity bills.

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