Drainage trench dug and filled before winter

by ziggy on December 12, 2009 -- 5 comments -- Follow


The rubble trench for the kitchen has been completely dug and filled with gravel, thankfully in time before it’s gotten to be too cold.

Digging the trench

We did all of the trench digging by hand. Our corner of Missouri has intensely clayey soil, with literally no rocks to be found. Past the first 6-10″ of topsoil is pretty much straight clay, perfect for cob and earthen plaster. The clay makes for pretty tough shoveling at times (depending on how wet or dry it is), but it’s nice to not have to work around stones.


Anyway, we dug down two feet deep (and two feet wide), and dug a trench to daylight on the northwest corner of the building. The shape of the building is roughly bean-shaped, with a bump in the middle of the north wall where the pantry projects out further from the building. We piled all of the clay and topsoil separately.

A brick and terracotta drainage tile

We are endeavoring to keep the kitchen construction as free from (new) plastic as possible. Instead of buying plastic drainage tile, we came up with making a combo brick and terracotta tube drainage tile. (By the way: anyone know why it’s called “drain tile”? Seems like an awfully wrong name.)


We got creative where some of the bends in the trench are too curvy for lining up bricks. We did roughly four feet of brick followed by one segment (four feet) of terracotta tube throughout the trench. The water should easily be able to penetrate between the gaps of the bricks, but the terracotta is solid. (Hence why we decided to alternate the two.) The drain to daylight has a straight terracotta tube drain.


These photos should give you a pretty clear idea of the combination reclaimed brick and terracotta drain tile design.


The drainage tile sits on a couple inches of gravel. We piled six inches of gravel on top of the tile, tamped, dumped in six more inches, tamped, and repeat. About 8 tons of gravel later, we had a completely filled rubble trench, ready for a kitchen foundation!

We’re not sure whether or not we’ll do any foundation building over winter, but it’s possible. We’ll be doing an urbanite foundation, similar to the one for my house.

Stay tuned for more about the actual design and floor plans of the kitchen!

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  • All that digging by hand is amazing, looks fantastic. And that drainage tile pic, 3rd one down in the post, actually quite a beautiful thing, desktop worthy even. 🙂 Always looking forward to the latest update.

  • Neva

    What about when roots grow into the spaces between the bricks and tiles?

    Any trees nearby or just grasses?

    I have an old building which had tiled drains out to the main and they got completely clogged w/ tree roots where there were cracks in the tile pipes.

    Maybe the grass roots won’t be so aggressive, or do you see roots as part of the solution for drainage?

  • drainage systems

    Wow great work! We have just moved into an old cottage where we needed to dig the drainage! We havent been so lucky, and we still have lots of big holes in the garden!

  • aLISA

    I think it’s reffered to as tile because it is/was made of the same terracota as tile from the same craftspeople who made tile, a tile makers product.

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