First time home buyer here looking for some insight on proper drainage around the base of my house.

I'm looking at digging a french drain on the side of my house because water pools there when it rains. We recently had a ton of rain where I'm located and that pooling water caused my basement walls to start leaking rain water.

On top of that I'm going to grade the side of my yard away from the house to help keep the water away.

My question is: What's the best practice when it comes to grading projects? I've got fake stucco siding and I've heard I need to leave some space between the stucco and dirt, so critters/bugs don't get into it. Is that correct?

Also, would it be a good idea to throw some quarter round gravel down along the base of my house and then build the dirt on top of that? My neighbor did that and he says it's been working well for him.

I think I've got the basic idea for a french drain down, I'm just more-so looking for the best materials to use for the job.

  • 1
    You might get more useful answers in Home Improvement.
    – herb guy
    Mar 3, 2018 at 21:31
  • 2
    Fix the grading first, IMHO - if you manage 12 feet around the house that's 1/8" inch per foot going away from the house, so many water problems resolve "like magic" - if yours persist, then consider the major digging project.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 4, 2018 at 0:36
  • Welcome NoName! Would you please add some pictures of the area where you'll be doing your work? Pictures are always important, no matter what type of project you're doing. Thanks! Mar 4, 2018 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


Ecerwal is right, grading first. You can consider other solutions if you have a good drop towards the street or the back of the lot. As always, when you change the grade where is the water going to go? If it is into your neighbour's house then you have just moved the problem and you will hear about it. Gutters direct water flow but provide other problems: Where will lots of water go? Drainage is worth thinking and planning for long term.

  • where on your lot do you have an incline away from the house where water can go?
  • get a cubic yard of soil dropped on the property and wheel barrow it next to the house to ensure the grade drops away from the house
  • when in doubt 4" diameter drain pipe with sleeve is your friend. Cheap, durable and works for you all year round. Where I live winters are now snow, melt, snow, melt. Frozen ground does not drain well so drain pipe helps. Bury parallel to the house in a 6" deep trench and slope towards a french drain at least 12" deep, preferably 24".
  • Those plastic buckets for drywall goop are great for making a cylinder for the walls of the drain.
    • Cut the bottom out
    • insert in your hole
    • fill with large rocks
    • top with landscape fabric, then turf
  • if you have gutters direct them directly into your drain pipe so they have a good ten or twenty feet to run before hitting your french drain

With the right build up your drainage works can be a festive occasion for all members of the family.... four inch drain pipe with sleeve

  • I should have explained myself better, I've actually already graded around the side of my house where the slope was towards my house and not away from it. Problem is now the water is pooling at the low point of where I've graded along the side of my house. My solution was to dig the french drain with some catch basins, and also re-grade the side of my house.
    – NoName
    Mar 4, 2018 at 19:47

If the surface of the soil is sloped towards your foundation even installing a french drain will not help enough. You have to grade that surface soil to slope away from your foundation. If not possible then the next solution is to cover that area out to where the soil slopes away from the foundation.

Firstus and most important before trying to mess with drainage on your own is to contact; your city or county buildings and code. You need to learn what the rules are because if you do not know the rules you could get fined big time.

Check your mortgage paperwork. You should have an 'as-built' included that shows your property lines, N/S, septic, fences, outbuildings, your home dimensions as well as exactly where it sits within your property lines. Hopefully there might be elevations. With at least 3 elevations maybe even two you could have a grading base map made that shows you where the water is going now.

Drainage is critical for a home or any structure. Have you purchased this home already? Not to worry. Disclosure laws are a big deal. Selling a home with a wet basement is a huge no-no.

River rock at the base of your foundation walls on the surface helps stop splashing of mud, not so much water. The siding whether wood or stucco or brick has to be a minimum of 4" above the soil. The concrete of your foundation on the outside of that wall between any soil, mulch, or rock needs to have an asphalt coating painted onto the concrete of the foundation.

On the outside of the footings of your foundation there has to be drain tile (drainage pipe, 4" diameter covered with landscape fabric or better). Tough to find. Gotta dig down. Find a friend with a backhoe. Dig out a corner to see what they did for drainage of that foundation.

A wet basement warrants doing this digging and research.

Another easy fix that might work for you is what is called a 'dry well'. Simply, a big hole that is lined with landscape fabric then filled with drain rock, then covered with landscape fabric and then topped with driveway material of your choice. This collects lots of water and allows that excess water time to seep further into the water table. I have used them an awful lot. Small dry wells were 3X4X3 feet deep. Larger; 8'X10'X4'. They can be much larger if necessary. Don't expect to grow lawn on top of them. River rock and cobble and pea gravels look very nice.

If you could look for your as-built we could help lots more. There are laws against selling people homes with leaky basements. Not cool. Anywhere that I know...you should NOT have been sold a home with a leaky basement. Period. Can be fixed but NOT with your money...

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