The last two weekends have been dedicated to digging a trench on the south side of our house. Lucky for us, someone installed a french drain many years back... they laid down a pipe, covered it with river rocks, then covered the river rocks with broken concrete and a thick layer of shingles. Then they buried it.
Shingles, if you recall, work phenomenally to keep water OUT of things. So needless to say, their french drain failed, resulting in large amounts of water seeping into the foundation. The last owners, and the owners before, all complained (but never did anything to fix it...) to our next door neighbor about the drainage on that side of the house.. and lucky for us she gave us far warning before the winter weather.
The fun thing about house ownership is the large number of tools required for various projects around the property. This is our newest tool (the pickaxe, not the husband) to live in our shed. It has made the pure joy of digging a trench with river rocks, concrete, and shingles substantially more tolerable.