If you’ve done something to your property that has altered the soil around your home e.g., renovation, landscape construction, etc., you could have inadvertently changed the natural flow of runoff water. Poor landscape drainage can cause damage to your home and yard. It can cause soil erosion, which leads to foundation issues. And excess water can kill plants by drowning them. Finally, standing water is the perfect place for mosquito larvae to thrive. So, poor drainage can also increase the mosquito population in your yard!
Simply, poor landscape drainage can lead to:
- Damaged foundations
- Unhealthy grass and plants
- Increased health hazards from mosquitoes, fungus growth and disease
And, if water is not properly diverted away from your house, it may ultimately find its way into your basement, creating other costly-to-fix issues.
Well placed drainage in a yard can mean the difference between a perfectly green, lush lawn and a wet, swampy area that’s unusable.
How do you know if you have a drainage issue? After a heavy rainfall, any yard can become a bit swampy. But if your yard:
- Always has areas of standing water
- Low spots that collect water when it rains
- Soil erosion on uneven ground
Then you need to pursue a landscape drainage solution. Although some yard drainage issues may be simple to solve yourself, you may need expert help and advice to tackle the more complex problems.
What causes drainage problems?
Drainage plans are a vital part of any landscape design. And if you’ve ever designed your own landscape or worked with a professional to do so, you know proper drainage is important to the project. It’s critical to effectively distribute the water or else you’ll find yourself with a myriad of drainage problems.
1. Gutter issues
Blocked gutters are very common, especially if you live near woods. Take notice during a rainstorm. If the water is flowing over the gutters (rather than being pushed through), this is one indication the gutter is clogged. You need to take immediate action and unblock the gutters. A long term solution to this recurring problem is to install drain covers.
Another issue you should look for is whether there are puddles of water underneath your downspout. This situation indicates the water may not be directed far enough away from your house. Why is this a problem? Over time, the water could get your home’s foundation and flood your basement. Or worse, the water could damage your foundation. At this point, you should call a professional to help redesign your downspout and direct water to flow the right way.
2. Defective lawn grading
Did you know your lawn shouldn’t be perfectly flat? Instead, it should have a pitch up to three percent between the street and your house. Creating this type of slope will ensure water flows into the street and down the drains. If you don’t have a slope, the water will collect at the lowest point in the yard, creating puddles. The puddles will kill your grass and create a marsh-type environment in your yard. And if the puddles are near your home, the water can seep into the foundation and cause the types of damage discussed previously.
The good news is if your lawn wasn’t graded properly, you can call an expert who can help identify a solution such as installing a French drain or creek bed.
3. Poor plant bed design
Just like it’s important to properly grade your lawn, you need to incorporate drainage into the design of your plant beds. That’s why when you’re contemplating adding a plant bed to your landscape, you should consult with a professional. A professional can design the bed so the water drains naturally. A poor design will keep water from moving and will collect inside the bed killing everything you’ve planted. Or worse, it could flow in the wrong direction and flood your neighbor’s yard. So, don’t forget to work with a professional who will use a site level and calculator to create an effective slope to move the water in the correct direction.
Erosion contributes to landscape drainage problems. When the upper layer of ground soil moves from one place to another, it’s called erosion. If you live on or near the bottom of a hill, erosion from a neighbor’s yard could be flowing straight to your property during a rainstorm. This is a natural occurrence so it’s not your neighbor’s fault.
Therefore, it’s up to you to mitigate the problem. To do so, you’ll need to identify how the water flows to your property. Then, you should contact an expert who can provide a solution to divert the water away from your yard. They may suggest re-routing solutions like installing a catch basin or dry well.
5. Poor grading at your home’s foundation
One of the most common drainage problems is when water is held at the foundation of your home. Water that remains close to the foundation can be disastrous to the interior, damaging drywall or wood floors. It can also contribute to foundation failure. One of the solutions is to raise the land around your home to help water flow away from the foundation. You could add a landscaped garden around your foundation. The plants can absorb the water and the garden can be sloped away from your foundation.
Landscape Drainage Options
You may need to employ one or more drainage solutions depending on the type of problem you have on your property. A professional team of landscape construction and drainage experts can create a plan that will address your situation. This plan could include:
- Grading your land to ensure proper water run off onto lower parts of the property
- Adding or changing the soil and plants that help absorb the water
- Properly installing gutters and downspouts that divert water from your home and foundation
- Building a retaining wall to prevent soil and water from entering into your yard
- Installing a drain system to redirect the flow of water to dry areas or away from your property altogether
If you do need to install a drain, there are a variety of drainage solutions available to help draw excess water away from your foundation and landscaping. The majority of these are relatively easy to install and low profile, so you will barely notice them after they are installed.
Many area drains consist of a simple drain that connects to an underground pipe. These drains are perfect for low areas in your yard or garden that constantly collect water when it rains. By moving the water away from your home and into the street, you not only save your garden and foundation from damage, but also prevent the growth of mosquitoes.
One of the best ways to save your lawn or garden from patio runoff is to install a channel drain. These drains are long channels that are installed into a concrete surface, such as the sidewalk. The water runs into pipes below the surface, which carry the water away from your home. Many landscapers recommend this type of drain to be installed around pools in order to protect your lawn from flooding.
French drains are a great solution for improving the drainage of your raised planters and other landscaping. This type of drain utilizes a drain wrapped in landscape fabric. The drain is then covered in rock. The combination of the rock and landscape fabric helps to keep roots and soil from clogging the drain.
Foundation drains direct water away from a foundation to eliminate the moisture from entering your basement and potentially causing structural damage and cracks in the foundation. New construction requires foundation drains to be installed, but older homes may not have them in place. These drainage systems are installed outside the edge of foundations as well as systems that are installed under foundations.
Tips to minimize drainage issues
Be on the Look Out for Potential Issues
First and foremost, it’s important to take the time and observe your yard after it rains. That’s the best time to see evidence of drainage problems. For example, if there’s a large puddle in a low spot in your yard after rain, that’s a tell-tale sign that you have drainage issues.
Ensure Drainage Slopes Away from the Foundation
To prevent problems with your foundation, it’s critical for the drainage to slope away from your home’s foundation. Check the sides of your house to make sure that plantings, mulch, gravel, or soil aren’t preventing water flow away from the house.
Check for Obstruction to Drainage Routes
Blocked drainage routes are easy to identify and fix. Make sure to check that those routes aren’t obstructed by raised gardens or swing sets, planters, tree roots, etc. to keep water run-off flowing.
Examine Downspouts to Make Sure They’re Working Correctly
Roof water must drain far enough away from your house to minimize erosion. Therefore, gutters and downspouts should extend beyond raised beds or any below-grade areas to a low area of your yard. It’s important to inspect gutters and downspouts regularly to keep them debris-free. This is especially important in autumn when significant numbers of leaves are falling daily.
Try Water Harvesting
Water harvesting is when you install a storage well or water barrel below grade. It works by collecting the runoff water from your roof. The benefit to this technique is that you can use the runoff to water your yard, garden, and plants!
Protect your property with proper landscape drainage
When you are making your master landscaping plans, it is very easy to completely overlook the importance of maintaining good drainage throughout your entire property. Doing so, however, can ultimately lead to the sabotage of all of your hard work. Without proper drainage, you could find your entire landscaping undone at the hands of the next heavy rain. Make landscape drainage one of the cornerstones of your planning process.
So, plan ahead and follow these steps to prevent drainage issues in your yard. And if you need an expert in landscape grading and drainage solutions, give New England Enterprises a call.