backyard drainage solutions

5 Most Common Yard Drainage Problems And Solutions

You don’t have to be a professional to recognize when there is a problem with your drainage. Just have a look around your garden, If one area of your garden is disproportionately full of water there could be a drainage issue. 

Most drainage issues are not only going to ruin the beauty of your yard, but they can cause costly damage to your yard if you ignore them for too long.

Drainage plans should be an integral component in your landscape design, but if you did not implement these drainage plans from the start, there maybe some aspects of it that may have gone overlooked. 

This could mean you may need to consider landscape drainage components:

Sump pump – which is used for pumping out excess water to prevent flooding

Catch basin – a box that’s placed in the ground to collects standing water

French drains – using gravel to create a trench that redirects water away from one area to another. 

These components can be used to create a drainage system that can rectify issues immediately, they can easily be purchased in stores or online. The sooner you properly distribute water in your yard, the sooner your drainage problems are resolved and you can avoid even more serious problems down the road. 

Let’s look at 5 common yard drainage problems and review what solutions you have available to you if any of them exist in your yard.

1 – Bad Elevation

Problem: I have lots of water accumulating around the foundation of my home, what can I do?

The most common drainage problem is having bad elevation at your home foundation. When this happens you will see water being held at the foundation of your house. If you leave it unresolved, it will damage the inside wood floors, any drywall you have, and could damage your foundation.

Solution: Grade around the house to make another area for water to flow. This will prevent the water from building up around your foundation. Alternatively, you can install a drainage system below the surface that uses a pipe and catch basin.

2 – Plant Bed Designs

Problem: I have water pooling around my plant beds no matter how little I water my plants, what can I do?

If you have haphazardly installed plant beds, you may have impeded the natural flow of water. You could accidentally prevent water from moving in the direction it was designed to do, in which case it will remain in your beds and may kill your plants. This is especially true if your yard exists on any type of hill or slope. Sometimes plant beds are installed incorrectly which can stop water from draining downhill or away from the planter boxes.

Solution: Use a site level to make sure that you have  accurately calculated the slope necessary to more efficiently move water downhill. This all sounds very technical, but basically, you need to be cognizant of the design in your yard, the placement of the boxes, and any natural slopes. Then change the arrangement of your beds so that water drains more efficiently.

3 – Water Traps

Problem: I have water pooling in multiple areas around my yard, what can I do?

If your yard is not properly graded it can result in depressions within the yard itself. These depressions, like potholes on the road, will end up holding water. Having large holes with standing water in them will kill off any plant life nearby and create marsh like conditions in large pockets of your yard.

Solution: The solution here is to find a way to better move the water on the surface so that it does not get trapped anywhere. If gravity is not working for you, then find a way to change it; improve the grading of your yard by installing a creek bed.

You can create smaller creek beds that blend seamlessly into the garden design you already have and increase the aesthetic value of the space at the same time. More importantly, adding a creek bed that winds its way around  will give storm-water a place to move along the surface of your yard. If there are puddles or large holes in which the water sits after it rains or after you water the yard, sketch out where it pools and then dig a small creek bed to run along that same path so that gravity will naturally move the water away.

This is a more permanent solution than the alternative which is to mechanically pump water away from the yard with a sump pump. Either way, you can accomplish your goal of get that water moving.

4 – Paved Surfaces

Problem: I have water pooling across my walkway/driveway, what can I do?

Even if your yard is not lush with plants and lawns, you could still face drainage problems with your hardscaping. You want to make sure any solid surfaces like a terrace, walkway, driveway, or pool deck have a slope adequate enough to move water away and prevent it from pooling.

Solution: You need to properly grade any hardscape areas. If you have not yet installed these areas then obviously take this into account before finalizing the installation. If you already have a walkway made of paving stones, consider a quick rehab to remove the stones and alter the material underneath to create a slope. Note that this slope does not have to be drastic. You should not feel as though you are falling or leaning sideways while walking up to your front door. Just making sure things are ever so slightly off kilter will be enough to move water naturally off the surface and prevent large puddles.

Alternatively, you can install a retaining wall to aid with any drainage problems. For this level of landscape change, you should call a professional. Landscape projects can be very complex, especially if you are installing something like the sump pump mentioned earlier or the retaining wall mentioned here. Corrective drainage measures like this maybe best left to experienced personnel if you little to no experience.

5 – Gutter Spouts

Problem: Water keeps draining over the sides of my gutters into my yard, what can I do?

If your gutters have not been properly tended to, then the exits might become blocked in which case, water from the gutter will flood your yard instead. What does this look like? Well, your gutters will start emptying into the yard below, in many cases dumping concentrated amounts of water onto your plants and over-saturating them or onto your paved walkways.

It is important to note though, that this drainage problem can be two fold. First, there might be problems with buildup in your gutters such that any blockage forces rainwater to fall over the edges of the gutters along the entire perimeter of your home. Second, the location where your gutters end might need improvement because it happens to soak a vital part of your yard, like the entryway to your front door or a new flower bed.

Solution: Take a look around the outside of your home and note where your gutters are pouring water. Try to have them cleaned and then redirect the gutters if necessary so that the water moves naturally downhill. Cleaning them and removing any blockage will prevent rainwater from building up and then toppling over the sides. Subsequently redirecting your gutters so that they move downhill will prevent the accumulated rainwater from naturally soaking certain areas of your yard.

In conclusion, you’ll find that most drainage problems can be resolved with proper implementation, planning and maintenance. For those of you who are new to gardening or first time homeowners having these problems might feel overwhelming. It’s important to know your limits, there’s a difference between a diy project and a problem that is best solved by a professional.

If you have any tips or best practices you’ve learned resolving your own drainage issues please share it in the comment section.  Happy Gardening!

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