With the excavation complete, it’s time to put everything back together. We enlisted the help of my brother-in-law, Rob, to attach the 6-mil plastic sheeting to the houses on either side of the walk. The plastic lines the trench and ensures that water is only going where we want it to. Given the heavy clay soil we’re dealing with, we were concerned that water would find an easier time coming through the cracks in the brick than draining in the clay, so putting down plastic and gluing it to the houses makes sure there’s no other way for it to go. The plastic wraps across the front of the house as well, terminating in the small trench we dug across the front, which connects to the main trench along the side. Sarah and her sister, Nicole, put down a landscaping fabric in the front yard. Since we spent so much time digging up weeds, we wanted to do what we could to prevent their immediate return.

The next step was to run the pipes. Sarah’s dad, Mike, helped me get all the pipe from Menards and installed. We have a sock-wrapped perforated rigid pipe (holes down) that follows the trench across the front of the house, turns 90°, and then runs the length of the house in the bottom of the trench. This pipe will pick up water and channel it to the cancelled catch basin. Eventually it will go to a water feature/rain garden, but that will have to wait until we have the back yard done. There’s a second solid, rigid pipe that runs parallel to the first along the side of the house down the trench that picks up the downspouts. There’s a port for the (currently nonexistent) porch roof, a clean-out that could be re-purposed for a downspout if we end up having downspouts both front and back, and a port at the back of the house for the roof downspout. This pipe Y’s into the corrugated pipe and they both go to the catch basin. Because (a) we don’t have the rain garden set up yet and (b) we haven’t redone the roof and gutters yet, this pipe isn’t currently in use.


With the pipes in place we back-filled the trench and the front of the house with ¾” crushed limestone. This allows rain water to drain through to the pipes. We also continued the crushed stone as a base through the rest of the path that runs across the front yard to meet the front walk. I originally estimate this would be about 2 yards of stone, but it wound up being 5. We managed to do this in the most expensive way possible, because we wound up buying the first load of stone, followed by the pavers, followed by the second load of stone, followed by the load of fine-crushed stone (from a different company), and paying delivery fees every time. Better planning and estimating would have saved us probably $250. On top of that, we’d been looking at both the 24×24 and the 18×24 pavers. The 18×24 pavers were cheaper, but we’d need more of them, so they wound up being pretty much the same price. I decided on the 24×24, but instead the clerk sold me the 18×24 in the quantity of the 24×24, which we didn’t realize until they’d been delivered, so we didn’t have enough pavers. We decided to keep the 18×24, but had to go back and pick up 9 more pavers to finish the project.

Either way, we got the stone down and then put down the pavers. I wanted a large paver so that they wouldn’t move around even though they don’t have the typical sand underneath and they aren’t in direct contact with one another. The pavers are 18″x24″ Unilock “Rivenstone” bluestone. We’re hoping this means we’ll be able to buy more of them in a few years when it’s time to do the patio and continue the walkway through the back yard. I put the pavers into place using a 2×4 to space them and then Sarah fine-tuned with a string line on stakes to get them straight.

The last step was to spread fine-crushed stone around the pavers. This will still allow water to drain through, but holds the pavers in place and makes for an even walkway. We got a couple of yards of the finer stone and wound up with a wheelbarrow leftover that we’ll use to fill any low spots after a rain or two. We had looked at some chipped blue stone or other matching option and the price was horrifying, so we opted for the fine-crush and it looks nice, in my opinion. We also spread mulch around the front yard.

We haven’t had any water in the basement since we took up the old sidewalk, and I’m hoping it stays that way. I really think this will make a big difference, though I’m not thrilled with how quickly the cancelled catch basin fills up. Obviously, it’s cancelled, so it’s not expected to hold anything, but I was hoping it would handle a bit more rain than we’ve gotten. Once we’ve finished the house and can take up the concrete patio in the back yard, we can put in the water feature and hopefully solve it completely, but either way it should keep the basement dry. This was a big project, and as usual, we had a lot of help. A big thanks to Rob, Nicole, Sarah’s parents, my mom, plus Derek and Emily.

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