Phase II – Drainage – Westford, MA

After rebuilding the failed retaining wall and clearing the hillside, the next task is to solve the drainage issue.   With the house sitting behind a hillside, the front yard catches a lot of runoff and has nowhere to shed it.  In addition, the subsoil is clay which holds the water on the surface and has created swamp like conditions in the front yard and around the side of the house.

Swamped Yard

Swamped Yard

The gravel channel below the stone wall will catch a lot of water from the hillside and send it down the length of the wall.  From there we will pick up the flow and continue a stream bed on the surface to channel the water around the house and to a pool at the lower end of the property.  The dry stream bed will serve as a functional drainage ditch while also adding an attractive feature to the home.  Left over stones from the wall and other boulders from around the property are used to line the stream and the pond.


Shaping the Stream

Shaping the Stream

Dry Stream Boulders

Dry Stream Boulders

The pond is lined with bentonite, a substance that is mixed into the soil and that then swells to to create a water seal.  A drain is set at the the bottom of the pond with a shutoff valve so the homeowner can let the pond fill, or drain it completely.  An overflow drain is set slightly below the surrounding grade so that the water level never overflows the bank.

drainage pond

drainage pond

Back at the front yard more drainage trenches are dug with some surface drains added to ensure proper drainage.  All trenches are channeled to the stream bed.  At the end top soil is added back to the yard and graded to pitch water towards the wall and drains.

drainage channls

drainage channls

By using existing material and working with the lay of the land – we’ve solved the drainage issue, reclaimed a large portion of lawn that was overgrown with wetland growth, and in it’s place left attractive stone and water features. (finished photos to come)

Project Overview – Westford, MA

This home in Westford, MA had a host of issues that were making the front yard unsightly and unusable.  One of the major issues was a 140′ fieldstone retaining wall that ran along the front of the yard.   Built poorly the first time, this stone wall was collapsing in several places, and the hillside above it was overgrown.


stone wall/hillside – before


front hillside/wall – before

Although nice looking, the existing stone wall wasn’t built to last.   What the previous builder did was dry lay the stones right on the existing ground.  This is the traditional method of building stone walls and when done correctly can last generations.  However, this builder put too much focus on facing the wall rather than stacking the stones for strength.  That is to say the stones were often tipped up so that the flat face showed, but so that they didn’t tie back into the wall.  With poor drainage and a clay subsoil, the ground most likely shifted and undermined the carefully balancing stones.


fieldstone wall – before

In addition to the failing wall, the yard had poor drainage and was almost always wet.    A large hillside to the front of the house was directing water onto the yard, and a solid clay subsoil kept the water on the surface.   This was creating swamp like conditions on the lower end of the yard.

Along with these issues the rest of the yard had been for the large part neglected.  Garden beds were overgrown and the garden walls were built poorly and coming apart.  The brick walkway was made of cheap concrete pavers which were deteriorating under heavy moss growth, and a section of the pavers that had been pulled up for utilities were never replaced.


brick walkway – before


garden wall – before


gardens – before


garden/landing – before

After moving into this home 10 years prior – the homeowner’s were eager to reclaim their front yard and we at Concord Stoneworks were excited to help make it happen.  This project gives us the chance to do what we do best and make big improvements by utilizing site material, designing, problem solving, and providing a functional and aesthetically pleasing solution all while keeping costs reasonable.

Take a look at Phase I