How to Build a Berm Around a House for Flood Protection

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If your home experiences flooding from the existing drainage pattern of precipitation, constructing a berm can help solve the problem. A berm can encourage ponding of surface water runoff away from your home. Your berm should be at least five to six times as long as it is high and should gradually feather, or slope, into your yard. Berms generally rise no higher than 2 feet. Within that guideline, the height of your berm is your choice and should based upon the look you desire for your yard. If you create a 1-foot-high berm, it should feather 5 to 6 feet into your yard.

Things You'll Need

  • Surveying tools or surveyor
  • Shovel or Bobcat
  • Fill material
  • Rake

Determine the desired height for the berm. If you are experienced with surveying tools, measure and mark the elevations. If you do not have experience with surveying, hire a surveyor to measure and mark the elevations for you.

Outline the berm's shape and dig up any existing grass or plants in the area.

Remove the soil from the area where the berm will be built.

Add the desired fill to the berm area using the shovel or Bobcat and start packing the area around it with soil. Possible fill materials include sand, plant debris, rubble, asphalt and soil. Shape the fill layer's slope before adding the topsoil layer.

Tamp the fill material as you add to the berm until you reach the desired height. Situate the peak toward one end to create a more natural look and to create directional flow of water. Place the peak at the end you want precipitation to flow away from since rain water will flow down the incline.

Add the topsoil and mix the top 2 to 3 inches of it and the fill material together.

Tamp the topsoil using the shovel and smooth the berm sides using the rake.

Plant grass, shrubs or other plants on the berm to help hold the topsoil in place and to beautify the area. You might also line the edges with rocks or small boulders.

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