55 Gallon Barrel Dry Well

Introduction: 55 Gallon Barrel Dry Well

About: Spending way too much time on 'Ible! Restoring my 180 year old house. Thinking. tinkering with solder, electrons, copper.

I had a section of my backyard that turned into a river during heavy rain. Then the water pooled for a while less than 10 feet from my house and finally made its way along the "path of least resistance" into my basement.
After listening to the advice from several people I decided to create a Dry Well.
The basic concept of a dry well is to collect and redirect rain underground and allow it to filter its way to an area further away from buildings.

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Step 1: Material

For this project we used:
  • A roll of "separator" fabric - Home despot, yard center, Lowes...
  • 15 ft of 6 inch pvc
  • Pvc fittings (90s..)
  • 3/4 in gravel. I could have used bigger gravel but I had this on hand.
  • A drill and 1/2inch bit
  • A shovel.
  • Enough time to dig a big hole....
  • A 55 gallon barrel.

Step 2: Diggin' 1

First I dug a 1ft X 1ft trench and covered it with the separator fabric. The fabric was not really necessary but my companion thought it would be neater... I am sure the worms appreciate....
the trench has a slight slope to it (1inch for every 4 ft). Of course the path of the trench is away from the house so the dry well is going to be about 20ft from the nearest wall.

Step 3: The Barrel

I don't have a picture of this but this is an important step:
I drilled 1/2 inch holes every 10 inch on the barrel. T'hat's about 5 rows of 6 holes per row. I did not drill the bottom of the barrel. When it's all done, the barrel will be upside down with the bottom facing up.

Step 4: More Diggin'

Then I dug a big hole 4ft in diameter, about 5ft deep. I lined the whole with separator fabric. This is useful: it prevents too much silt and dirt to mix with the gravel that could later clog up the barrel.

Step 5: Fill It Up

Then I placed 6 inch of 1 inch gravel at the bottom of the hole.
I connected the end of the PVC pipe snug with the big hole near the "bottom" of the barrel.
THE BARREL WILL REMAIN EMPTY THUS ALLOWING EXCESS WATER TO GATHER IN IT BEFORE DISPERSING THROUGH THE GRAVEL THEN THE SOIL
I placed the barrel upside down and carefully filled the area around it with more gravel (3/4inch).
finaly, I covered the barrel with gravel, covered the whole thing with separator fabric and then added 4 inch of soil and sod

Step 6:

This picture was taken 2 years after the "big dig" and the dry well has been working nicely. My basement is a lot dryer!

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    17 Discussions

    0
    buns
    buns

    5 months ago

    I would suggest that you check with your state environmental agency before installing one of these. In some states this is considered an "injection well" and is illegal without a permit.

    0
    MaryVona
    MaryVona

    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    In every fit for dry well, including yours which I will use as my instructions, it says to line the hole ( well hole ) with plastic or lawn cloth. So that the barrel does not fill with earth soil .. but I don’t understand it!! Don’t we want the water to go down down down into the earth? Won’t the liner hold on to the water and the hole fill up?? Plz help me to understand.

    0
    Unorthodox
    Unorthodox

    8 years ago on Step 4

    Because the barrel is inverted is there a problem displacing the air in it fast enough? I would think a half inch PVC pipe to the surface would allow the barrel to fill faster and percolate into the soil better instead of the air getting displaced back up the drain pipe. I'm sure it only matters though in a tsunami though, and I assume you haven't had a problem?

    0
    wvagreen
    wvagreen

    Reply 1 year ago

    i recently burried a 55 plastic barrel and hadnt yet drilled into it and becauwe i hadnt and it was burrued all b ut the top 16 inches, i came outaside yesterday and the barrell was resurfaced , ( it had been raining for 2 days as well) would the air inside havew made this happen

    0
    WingL11
    WingL11

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Did anyone do this and find there were smells coming out of the drains?

    I'm thinking of taking on this project, but I'm concerned I won't have basically any access to the inside of the barrels, and if they start getting smelly, that smell will come straight out of the downspouts.

    0
    RobertZ25
    RobertZ25

    3 years ago

    Did you fill the barrel or did it remain empty before burying it?

    0
    RobertZ25
    RobertZ25

    3 years ago

    Did you fill the barrel or did it remain empty before burying it?

    0
    iggypop12
    iggypop12

    Reply 3 years ago

    talking heads?

    Same as it ever was

    0
    dreamberry
    dreamberry

    Reply 3 years ago

    :) the mouseover in the first pic says "this is not my beautiful house".

    0
    hkelly1
    hkelly1

    8 years ago on Introduction

    anybody have any ideas about how to make this type of unit into a 2 or 3 barrel drywell system? stumbled on this site, and LOVE all the ideas I am seeing!!

    0
    iggypop12
    iggypop12

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    yeah u connct them horizontaly together noting they whould be at least 7 feeet a prt

    0
    iggypop12
    iggypop12

    8 years ago on Introduction

    it has to be at least a 2 inch vent pipe cause the inlet is a 4 inch pipe in breathes better. I made one out of a soap bareel made a lid and vent.

    0
    dadoffour
    dadoffour

    8 years ago on Introduction

    How quickly does your dry well empty out? I've got a sump pump that drains into my yard, causes flooding. I'm looking for a way to make the drainage more efficient.

    0
    bruc33ef
    bruc33ef

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Another technique (from permaculture) would have been to dig a 1 to 2-foot-deep swale along the contour line using just a shovel. As you're digging, deposit the soil along the downslope side of the swale. Plant that side with some edible fruits and vegetables. Spread a little organic mulch matter along the bottom of the swale. As a result you'd be dispersing the water, enriching the soil, irrigating your plants, saving yourself some effort and expense, and getting some good food. You don't have a water-in-the basement problem, you have a garden design problem.

    0
    missplumeau
    missplumeau

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Bruc33ef, thank you for your insight. The dry well is actually a great source of water for a flower garden that's now flourishing on one side and a linden tree on the other. Unfortunately, this lot is downtown a mid size new england town and the soil is still not suitable for growing food. It is contaminated with lead and some trace of arsenic. I have a basic rain barrel that waters several raised beds in another corner of my small backyard where we grow herbs, tomatoes and other summer goodies.