April showers bring May flowers, and can also bring lots of water into your yard. Rainwater combined with snow melt in the spring can pool in low areas if your property lacks good yard drainage. Standing water can ruin your yard by killing grass, other plants and even trees. It can also be a hazard to you and your family’s health, by giving mosquito larvae and other pests a cozy place to breed. If water runs towards your home’s foundation, it can leak into your basement and cause cracking.
There many different solutions to yard drainage problems, depending on their cause. The first step in finding the best drainage solution is to assess your yard. Are the downspouts properly draining rainwater from your roof and gutters away from your home? Is runoff damaging one specific part of your landscaping? Is water collecting on or next to hard impermeable surfaces like paved driveways, walkways and patios? Are you finding all the water in one low point in your yard? Is the soil in your yard comprised of clay, which doesn’t allow water to percolate through it? Here are some tips to help with these common yard drainage problems.
- Extend your Downspout. If rainwater from your roof is causing damage where it exits your gutter system, you may only need to extend the downspout farther from your foundation. Installing a drainage pan at the end will also help disperse the water.
- Build a Berm: A berm is a hill of soil that diverts water around the landscaping that you would like to protect. The University of Minnesota Agricultural Extension has an excellent web page on building soil berms.
- Regrade your lawn to include a swale. A swale is an area of the lawn which is carefully graded to dissipate water over a larger area, or direct the water to a drain. A swale doesn’t have to be obvious. Enough water can flow to be effective yard drainage with as little as a 1 inch drop every 10 feet. In most cases, regrading your lawn requires a professional excavator or expensive rental equipment.
- Set a French drain. You can set a perforated pipe into the ground as part of a French drain system, running from the problem area to the safe zone. The pipe draws in water through holes along its length and the force of gravity carries the water away from your home. A properly designed and installed French drain system does not require an outlet. The water will simply soak into the soil as it flows along the perforated pipe, which is surrounded by gravel. Because French drains handle water that is moving not just over the soil but through it, they’re the best solution for keeping water out of a basement. A French drain system can be used alone or in conjunction with a dry well.
- Install a Dry Well.
A dry well is a large, fairly deep hole that either contains a holding tank or is filled with aggregate. It stores the excess water underground and slowly allows it to infiltrate the surrounding soil over a period of days. In general, a dry well should be large enough to collect the first 10 or 15 minutes of a large rainstorm.
- Plant a Rain Garden. If you find water collecting in one small area, consider planting a rain garden. You can lighten the soil by adding lots of organic matter, or you can build raised beds on top of the wet ground. Fill them with a fertile soil mix and add moisture-loving plants, such as marsh marigold, joe-pye weed, Siberian iris, ostrich fern or cardinal flower. Plant shrubbery and trees that thrive in wet environments, like weeping willow. The trees, shrubs and perennials that you plant can greatly improve drainage by absorbing rain, runoff and snow melt. Landscaping that has deep root systems can also mitigate and prevent erosion, especially on sloped areas and hills.
- Replace Impermeable Surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, with gravel or permeable pavers. This can be expensive, but it’s worth considering if you’re already replacing deteriorated asphalt or concrete.
Before you begin a drainage project, know that many localities are enacting strict rules about landscape modifications that affect groundwater, even on a small scale. While these regulations are more likely to apply if your house is close to a lake, stream, or seashore, it pays to check permit requirements and wetlands regulations no matter where you live.
If you need to address a yard drainage problem, contact New England Enterprises for a consultation. Our experts will recommend the best yard drainage solution for your property and your budget.