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wingless' Plastic Swale Liner Adjustment

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The seasonal weather change at my (new to me) southern Florida home has toggled from sunny yesterday / sunny tomorrow, to daily torrential afternoon downpours.


When I purchased the home the front yard plastic swale liner was dry, (as was the backyard drainage "canal"). Now both always have water.


This drainage system is on a grid system to route LOTS of rainwater away to the proper location.


As it turns out the homeowner is responsible to ensure the system is properly maintained to ensure correct functionality. Sooo great to have something extra to do...


When I called the City about the water overflowing the front yard plastic liner sides and not draining, they dispatched a worker to examine the situation. The worker went to my downstream neighbor's property and grabbed a clump of grass from the plastic liner, which helped the flow.


The worker also identified lawn grass growing over the liner edge. He pointed out these issues should be maintained by the homeowner.


When I pointed out that the liner slope was insufficient I was informed it was a 3-4 year waiting list for service. (Gotta love the government.) I called and spoke to the manager, he was very nice and moved my appointment sooner, but I still wasn't happy. That years-away appointment is to see if any flow may be observed, if so, no City action is required. The worker already said flow was observed during his visit.


My choice was to use my Fiskars flat shovel and my Husky 8" Tamping tool to fix the problem.


The shovel was used at the liner edge to cut the overflowing grass, then used on an arc motion to force additional dirt under the liner, to increase the elevation and change the slope. 


Alternately, the tamping tool was used at a 45° orientation to push down the liner where required. I also trimmed / adjusted the liner in front of my downstream neighbor's house. I used observation of existing water to see where I needed to raise the liner for better drainage. The tamping tool was used on the lawn along the length to shift Earth, removing / filling subterranean voids created by forcing dirt under the liner, so that things would have long-term stability.


The water flows MUCH better now that the liner has been adjusted / maintained.


The liner at the property line was especially bad, probably from 1,000 pound commercial yard equipment cutting both sides of that path every week for years. It took buckets of clean fill at that location to permit properly raising the liner so it would drain.


The plastic liner appears to be "home made" from something like 24" diameter perforated plastic pipe, sliced longitudinally into long curved strips. The pipe had been cut so no drain holes exist on the bottom, but there is instead a line of evenly-spaced holes on each side along the length, up near the liner top edge. I might pop some central drain holes in the future. The liner is retained to the ground w/ short ½" Schedule 40 PVC pipe stakes, many still having plastic caps.


Not yet happy about how water enters / exits the galvanized steel pipe under the driveway and I'm currently undecided one how to improve that condition.


Even though water remains at the liner bottom, those liners were all overfull along the entire length before I adjusted the slope.


Liner in Front of My House (Looking Upstream)



Liner on Side of Neighbor's House (Looking Downstream)


My Driveway Pipe Entrance (Upstream)


(My Driveway Pipe Exit (Downstream)


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Thanks much.


The grass was terrific when I examined the house and made the offer, then started looking horrible, getting VERY crispy. I was counting on the in-ground irrigation system and hadn't realized it had failed. I hadn't initially realized the PO was garden hose watering everything. I sooo don't have time for that activity!


A dozen repairs and adjustments by me got all the sprinklers working properly. Now I just push a button to tweak the automatic settings.


The lawn has already been fed multiple times by me.


The 3-4 years was for the City to determine if they were going to do anything... I instead fixed it the next day!

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