A river runs through it

There’s a swale in my back yard.

(Swale on a normal drizzly day – wet but not filling up)

It runs from the neighbors at right, under the deck by the pond, in front of my shed (where I installed a dry well to further help with drainage), to my neighbors at left. Who do not use or tend their yard in any way whatsoever but do try to block the swale — because although they clearly want their yard to be as natural as possible (cough cough overgrown jungle), they apparently have no understanding of water naturally flowing. Or that if water is left to stand in my yard, rather than flow down to its natural drainage at the end of the line, beyond their property, the resulting colony of mosquitoes isn’t going to respect the fence line.

To that end – when my deck was redone, I must have told my contractor 400 times not to block the swale – which would also block water and form a swamp in the other neighbor’s yard – so naturally that’s what they did, on the last day, when I wasn’t there to be watching. After they finally left I had a better and more reliable contractor come and take up that section of the deck, and dad and I dug out the earth and debris they’d left under the decking and rebuilt a path for water to be able to flow.

Then I built my dry well on the other side also, so when my neighbors try to block it, it can’t easily back up enough to head toward the house.

When we have hard rains, between the runoff from the hill above us and the yard-to-yard rush, the swale fills and becomes a river. It can even overflow its banks at times.

But the water rushes on to its destination, and once the flow slows, my dry well does the rest, and water doesn’t sit here for long.

Except the other morning I looked out, and the deck was dry, but the swale was full.

I went out and water – a lot of water – was rushing out from under my deck.

Hmm. There’s no rain. What is this?

Well, first I turned off my pond. I wanted to rule out whether something had punctured it underneath and it was draining from beneath the deck. But without the fountain, there was no current. And no drop in depth as I watched. Pond back on; not the source.

Peeking over the fence to the right, there was no obvious source of water – no sprinkler left on. Not that this flow is light enough to be a hose left on. We are not talking creek here.

The grass and garden doesn’t suggest a lake forming there but – there, at the fenceline, I can see the rush of water running out of their grass, under the fence, and through.

So the problem is coming from their side, but farther up the neighboring properties.

Unseen. Unknown.

The sump pumps here all empty toward the front, not the rear. So it’s a mystery. Is someone emptying a pool by pumping it out into the swale? I don’t hear anything running, other than this river.

It’s quite the rush of water. Whatever it is coming from, there’s lot of it.


But eventually it did dry up, still unsolved.


PS I’m not just being snarky about the neighbors and their jungle of a back yard. You tell me: can you find the steps to their back gate? Neither can they. Just as well, one of them broke early in the season last year and they never bothered to fix it.