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Neighboor flooding my backyard?

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  • Apr 22nd, 2020 8:26 am
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[OP]
Jr. Member
May 22, 2017
181 posts
143 upvotes

Neighboor flooding my backyard?

Hey folks!
I finally moved to my first house last Jan, I mean townhouse, and realized that my backyard is flooded since last winter. I've noticed that the water comes from my east neighbor which impact me and my neighbor on my left side. Two houses from my east side has a french drain in their backyard that dumps the water on us.

From what I've noticed is that we don't have a shared swale with drain at the back but that neighbor solved his issue. Is legal what he's doing? How can I solve my flooded backyard problem?
Thanks,
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15 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9948 posts
5237 upvotes
Paris
Friends of mine in waterdown their house is built just like this. Everything drains through their backyard to a settling pond at the end.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 19, 2008
6604 posts
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GTA
I don't see a french drain to the right, you sure there is one? Can't mess with grading so it adversally affects neighbours, after crisis is over call municipal offices if the neighbour actually did something 2 houses to the right in that pic.
That said, what I do see is neighbour to your left built up his property against your fence?....that would stop water from flowing as intended if that's how it was meant to drain in grading plan. It might be water from right was intended to flow from where you think a french drain was installed and through the 2 yards marked as wet in the pic....and then through the yard to the left that is now built up. So it stops in your yard.
Banned
Nov 17, 2014
942 posts
752 upvotes
Ontario
I don't have anything to add, other than that those are unique little yards!
Member
Feb 26, 2019
431 posts
376 upvotes
Ottawa
How wet is it? Is there a puddle or just kind of soft and damp? This is just a wet time of year. If there is no ponding, I wouldn’t worry about it. Wait a couple weeks and it may solve itself. Damp and spongy sections of lawn in March/April is not so uncommon.

Is this your first spring in the place?
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
956 posts
707 upvotes
Seeing as these are townhomes and the grade of the lots behind you is higher, your drainage design is predicated on accepting drainage from neighbouring lots and conveying it through your own.

I would ignore if the neighbour two to the right has a french drain or not for the time being.

Your main question should be, which way should the drainage be flowing, and if its not flowing that way, why? Or who blocked it? Did your neighbour to the left do some landscaping and block drainage, or did your neighbour who maybe installed the french drain, raise the grade on his yard and block it that way. Assuming there are no subsurface or piped drainage systems, it all has to go overland.

How new is the house, and what municipality do you live in?

Aside, whats going on with the lot you back onto, if that deck or is it something more impervious, and does it drain onto your rear yard as well?
Sr. Member
Mar 15, 2005
727 posts
572 upvotes
the problem looks like its your neighbour behind you, not the neighbour 2 doors down. In addition to them being on higher ground, they also appear to have the entire yard paved, causing runoff.

edit: i know when we got a pool/patio put in the city inspector had mentioned in his report that the grading/landscaping may cause runoff and issues for neighbours. We had our contractor add to the contract that they would address / install weeping tile should any issues arise.

Maybe talk to your next door neighbour. Ask if they had flooding in the backyard prior to they people behind them surfacing the entire back yard? Maybe the 2 of you together can talk to the people behind you or even call the city to see if anything can be done.
Last edited by discoblues on Apr 13th, 2020 1:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 15, 2004
6520 posts
1087 upvotes
Agree with the person above. Definitely more of a problem from the higher ground behind your backyard, not the ones on the sides. This is exactly many people avoid buying houses with sloped backyard like this. Of course it’s too late for you. Maybe go to the City about the neighbour who paved the whole backyard in the higher ground?
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
956 posts
707 upvotes
golden wrote: Agree with the person above. Definitely more of a problem from the higher ground behind your backyard, not the ones on the sides. This is exactly many people avoid buying houses with sloped backyard like this. Of course it’s too late for you. Maybe go to the City about the neighbour who paved the whole backyard in the higher ground?
While this contributes to the problem by contributing more drainage to his rear yard, the root cause of the issue is the fact that there is no real positive outlet. It's also kinda hard to tell from the pic if its decking or pavers.

If you somehow go after this neighbour, and can force them to put a bit more softscaping in their yard, it may help reduce how much runoff comes to your yard, but your yard will most likely still be soggy until you can figure out a way to restore positive drainage to the area. (Also your neighbour may not like you after this.... and he has the high ground)

Although the neighbour to the rear isn't helping your situation, and if you can't do anything else you could pursue this venue, I think the first course of action is to determine where the drainage should be going, and why it isn't flowing in that direction.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 22, 2017
181 posts
143 upvotes
Hey all, thanks for your replies.
Couldn't answer it earlier. I live in Whitby, ON and I had the chance to meet my side neighbor once and he told me that by early May our backyard gets dry just not sure how it will hold water when it rains, it will definitely gets soggy for few days. I've been at this house for 90 days only so I'm still figuring everything out.
My rear neighbor has around 5 feet of soiled yard between his deck and our fence but I don't know how his yard runs the water. I don't see anything coming from them however I do see the water coming from my side neighbors. I've recorded a short video yesterday at the end of the day, Youtube video at the end of this post.
The first two townhouses units doesn't have walkout basements because their lot are flat however starting from my east side neighbor until the end of the street, all other units have walkout bsmts (see the attached google earth picture).

I know that my neighbors won't like to have this conversation at all, but once this quarantine is gone I'll walk around and will start talking with them to understand their perspective in terms of the issue and if any of my neighbors are willing to solve this issue.

My Youtube link
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Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
956 posts
707 upvotes
ldovale wrote: Hey all, thanks for your replies.
Couldn't answer it earlier. I live in Whitby, ON and I had the chance to meet my side neighbor once and he told me that by early May our backyard gets dry just not sure how it will hold water when it rains, it will definitely gets soggy for few days. I've been at this house for 90 days only so I'm still figuring everything out.
My rear neighbor has around 5 feet of soiled yard between his deck and our fence but I don't know how his yard runs the water. I don't see anything coming from them however I do see the water coming from my side neighbors. I've recorded a short video yesterday at the end of the day, Youtube video at the end of this post.
The first two townhouses units doesn't have walkout basements because their lot are flat however starting from my east side neighbor until the end of the street, all other units have walkout bsmts (see the attached google earth picture).

I know that my neighbors won't like to have this conversation at all, but once this quarantine is gone I'll walk around and will start talking with them to understand their perspective in terms of the issue and if any of my neighbors are willing to solve this issue.

My Youtube link
Thanks for the info.

So the fact that your neighbour behind you has a deck and not pavers, probably means that the runoff is probably similar to a softscaped backyard. So I probably would not bother bringing up anything with him.

Based on your picture, you subdivision drainage design is probably based on a swale conveying drainage across the rear yard toward that pond. You may be able to required a plan from the Town as well.

It looks like the townhouse at the end has potentially altered the grade in the rear lot and could be blocking the drainage.

To ensure good drainage in landscaped areas, you want a minimum 2% grade across your lot to convey the drainage. You could check to see what you have now, I'm assuming its either less or the grading is uneven, and then check to see if your drainage is being blocked downstream.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 22, 2017
181 posts
143 upvotes
It makes sense. I’ll work on that and if I don’t find a solution I will contact the city to understand how they can help me. However what I don’t understand is the reason that the drain pipe is still coming out of my neighbour’s yard. That may be causing the issue as it may be installed incorrectly. Not sure if you can see it, right behind the fence where we can see sun light. I still believe that it’s leaking Easter on our yard.
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Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
956 posts
707 upvotes
ldovale wrote: It makes sense. I’ll work on that and if I don’t find a solution I will contact the city to understand how they can help me. However what I don’t understand is the reason that the drain pipe is still coming out of my neighbour’s yard. That may be causing the issue as it may be installed incorrectly. Not sure if you can see it, right behind the fence where we can see sun light. I still believe that it’s leaking Easter on our yard.
Yeah, it's hard to tell, I'll just take your word for it.

If it is a french drain, its possible they filled in their swale and put in there in place of it, which could make some sense.

Based on the fact that this is a townhouse development, your lot is most likely designed to accept all flows from the lots which are higher than you. One thing you could check if you get a grading plan, is to see if that lot was supposed to drain the opposite way and through the sideyard at the other end of the townhouses towards the street. In any case, probably more so worth your time to figure out why your lot isnt draining.

If your overland flow route is blocked, your yard will get soggy regardless of that one lot drainage towards you.

One other thought, is that if your neighbour with the french drain installed is higher, you and your neighbour could look at adding fill to increase the slope across your yards, thus allowing better drainage.
[OP]
Jr. Member
May 22, 2017
181 posts
143 upvotes
SubjectivelyObjective wrote: Yeah, it's hard to tell, I'll just take your word for it.

If it is a french drain, its possible they filled in their swale and put in there in place of it, which could make some sense.

Based on the fact that this is a townhouse development, your lot is most likely designed to accept all flows from the lots which are higher than you. One thing you could check if you get a grading plan, is to see if that lot was supposed to drain the opposite way and through the sideyard at the other end of the townhouses towards the street. In any case, probably more so worth your time to figure out why your lot isnt draining.

If your overland flow route is blocked, your yard will get soggy regardless of that one lot drainage towards you.

One other thought, is that if your neighbour with the french drain installed is higher, you and your neighbour could look at adding fill to increase the slope across your yards, thus allowing better drainage.
Thanks for your insights. Will take them into consideration.
Deal Addict
Jan 21, 2018
4570 posts
4627 upvotes
Vancouver
Even well-intentioned drainage modifications can go wrong as the planners fail to anticipate the effect on neighbouring properties.

Our local authorities introduced a regulation a decade ago saying that all properties with new home construction must have the lowest living level of the home above the crown level of the nearest road. This is apparently to ensure proper runoff through the storm sewer system and prevent home flooding. Since there are no basements here (low-lying land with high water table), this means the ground floor of the house. Unfortunately the main roads built here a long time ago were often raised almost a meter above the surrounding flat farmland on which the houses were built. The standard way to meet the new regulation is to build a tray around the edge of the property, usually a 1 m high log wall or cinder-block wall, and fill the entire property 1 meter higher. The house is then constructed at that higher ground level. As is usually the case with newer homes, much more of the lot is covered by a larger house, and the remaining open ground is largely paved, leaving just a small patch of garden for natural ground water absorption. The remainder runs off the edge onto the neighbouring properties, flooding them out just as you might expect. The solution in the local code is that the contractor must bury a perforated drain pipe around the entire edge of the property connecting to the storm sewer, below the original ground level. Of course this isn't very effective when the runoff is rolling off the raised property directly onto the surface of surrounding properties.

But there are longer term issues for the neighbours with the raised property. Eventually the log retaining walls will inevitably collapse. They are already starting to rot. Somehow in their zeal to build as close as possible to the property line they ignored the building code about not putting the house foundation too close to a retaining wall, and when the log wall collapses, their foundation will be endangered and the house will probably be condemned.

In addition there were tall old trees on the neighbouring properties close to the property line, which cannot be cut down according to local tree preservation bylaws. With the ground constantly flooded, the rooting of those trees was destabilized, and in a big windstorm they fell over, crushing the fence and the upper-story deck of the raised property. Again, totally predictable outcome.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
744 posts
311 upvotes
Could you maybe put a french drain in your property? I personally don't see a problem. I'm sure it's wet but there's no standing pools of water, so water is getting out of your yard. Albeit maybe slower than you would like.

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