Introduction

filling up the hole around the dry-well with rounded stones
Photo: Ryan Benyi
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Q: We have a downspout that dumps rainwater onto our front walkway, which in winter turns into a sheet of ice. Is there a way to fix this problem? —Tabby McCarthy, Olanthe, Kansas

Roger Cook replies: A wet walkway is not only a slipping hazard, it contributes to damaging frost heaves that can break apart pavement. If you can't relocate the downspout, route the water under your walk and out to a dry well buried in your lawn. This perforated, open-bottom plastic barrel, which sits in a hole and is surrounded by stones, captures water coming off your roof, and lets it slowly disperse into the ground. Your walkway will be drier, and your storm drains will be less overloaded.

To determine how many dry wells you'll need, enter your roof area and soil type into the calculator at NDS, Inc. When you're ready to start digging, follow the steps on the next page. After you're done, fit your gutters with leaf guards so that the dry well won't fill up with debris.

Shown: washed, rounded stones ensure that a dry well will disperse roof runoff properly into the ground.
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    Tools List

    • trenching shovel
      Spade shovel
    • tarp
      Plastic or canvas tarp
    • wheelbarrow
      Wheelbarrow
    • two-foot level
      Level
    • 30-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • reciprocating saw
      Reciprocating saw

    Shopping List

    1. Flo-Well dry well

    2. Overflow emitter

    3. Landscape fabric

    4. ¾-inch rounded stone, washed

    5. 4-inch-diameter PVC pipe6. 4-inch-diameter 90-degree elbow

    7. Downspout adaptor

    8. PVC cement

    9. Stainless-steel sheet-metal screws