A torrential rain sent water into the window well of our basement, creating a leak and a big mess. Carpet, ruined. Refrigerator, unplugged; beer, wine and flower bulbs relocated to the kitchen fridge. Old dust bunnies in corners, drowned.
After the initial mess was cleaned (it would take a week to professionally dry the carpet), I realized I had a mere 3 hours until the next huge storm was predicted to arrive. I couldn't risk relying on the weatherman to be wrong.
The little swale I had created the spring before had well, unswaled. I needed something that would drain water away from the house, not refill within a few months and only take a few hours to build. Having designed and studied how french drains work, it was time for me to spring into action. Pulling out some old notes, I took some measurements, drafted a quick sketch and was off for a quick trip to the nearby hardware store (the old-fashioned (read: expensive) local one) as the looming thunderclounds didn't allow for a trek to the large national chain store.
12 large bags of pea gravel
black mesh "landscape fabric"
new shovel (why not)
Once my materials were in hand, I dug and dug and dug an 8" deep and 12" wide trench from the area before the water began to pool, about a foot away from the house. To make sure the water would flow away from the house, I poured a small amount of water into the trench until I could see it flow the entire length to where the trench met the grade of the lawn. Once I was sure my trench was properly sloped, I laid a long strip of landscape fabric in the trench, and filled it with pea gravel about 4" across and 2-3" deep. Then, folding the landscape fabric around the gravel, I created a small tube of gravel. Last, I filled in the rest of the trench some dirt and topped with a couple of inches of pea gravel.
For once, the weatherman was right on target. About 30 minutes after finishing my work, the second storm - worse than the first - arrived and my new French drain worked like a charm.
Merci beaucoup to Henry French.