Maybe you recently purchased a property, or you’ve been in the house for years, but the drainage in the yard is poor. Lack of yard drainage can cause a range of problems, from nuisance issues to ones that affect the integrity and value of your home. Let’s take a look at why you want to achieve the best drainage possible in your yard, along with some tips and yard drainage solutions you can use right away this summer. Real estate agents and builders, this is great advice for you, too!
Why Good Yard Drainage Is Essential
Having proper drainage in your yard is vital for multiple reasons. Poor drainage that results in swampy areas and constantly wet soil can ruin your garden, causing root rot and overwatered plants. A boggy lawn can make it impossible for kids and pets to play outside. The grass will never establish itself well, leading to bare spots that turn into mud patches whenever it rains.
Even worse, inadequate yard drainage can damage your home’s structure. Water that collects around the foundation can cause shifting soil and cracks, making the entire house unstable. Moisture can work its way into the basement, promoting the growth of mold and further property damage. Constant moisture also attracts pests, like insects and vermin. Whether you intend to stay in the home for many years or list it for sale soon, you want to remedy drainage issues right away.
Causes of Yard Drainage Problems
While it’s possible that a plumbing leak can be the source of your yard drainage headaches, it’s more common in our experience that a few basic landscaping flaws and home maintenance issues contribute to this problem. Poor yard drainage is usually caused by:
- Compact soil, especially soil that contains a lot of clay
- Incorrect yard grading that directs rainwater and snowmelt toward the house or other undesirable areas
- Landscape features that improperly redirect or block the flow of water
- Poor maintenance or lack of roof gutters (eavestroughs)
- Downspouts that are too short or funnel water in the wrong direction
- Absence of any place to drain water, including too much hardscaping
Yard Drainage Solutions You Can Use This Summer
There are many yard drainage options for you, depending on your yard and budget. Here are our top recommendations, which can be used alone or in combination to provide the best drainage for you.
Install gutters and keep them clean
If you don’t have gutters along your roofline, or if you have gutters but don’t keep them free of leaves and detritus, water will collect around your foundation. Long-term, this can be devastating for your home’s structural integrity. Be sure you’re using gutters, and clean them in autumn after the leaves fall. Check them after major storms, too.
Your gutters feed into downspouts that carry rainwater vertically from the roof. But you don’t want to dump that water too close to the house, or you defeat the purpose of having gutters in the first place. You can add extensions to your downspouts to conduct water further from the foundation, such as to a channel drain (see below) or water garden.
Use rain barrels
If you get a great deal of rain, why not collect it in a rain barrel? Place the barrel beneath your downspout, and use the water when the barrel becomes full. You can use it to water your garden or wash your car, saving on your water bill at the same time.
Check sump pump dispersal
If you use a sump pump to keep rainwater out of your basement, that water has to be directed somewhere. We’ve seen clients whose sump pump dispersal was too close to the house or in the wrong spot in the yard, creating a swampy mess. Instead, you can combine your sump pump output with one of the yard drainage solutions below, such as a dry well.
Replace hard surfaces with more porous ones
Sometimes yards become too wet, or rainwater runoff goes in the wrong spots because there is too much hardscaping. A large amount of asphalt, slate, or other nonporous material leaves water nowhere to soak into. Try replacing some of those surfaces with pea gravel, mulch, crushed shells, or permeable patio pavers that absorb water.
Aerate your lawn
Likewise, a thick lawn, especially if it’s planted in hard-packed or clay soil, can repel water faster than it’s absorbed. Lawn aeration is the solution here. It creates small holes where water can drain, and it improves the health of your lawn simultaneously by allowing more nutrients to penetrate. You can hire a landscaper to aerate your lawn or do it yourself with a manual or motor-driven tool — many garden centers have these for purchase or rental.
Improve your yard’s soil
Thick soil, as you read above, can make it challenging for rainwater or snowmelt to soak in. You can change the composition of your soil by adding more organic matter and sand. Not only will it improve your drainage, but it will be more hospitable to garden plants, too.
Plant a water garden
You can always harness the power of Mother Nature to take care of your excess rainfall by planting a water garden. Channel water here using other methods we suggest in this post. Thirsty plants will love the extra drink, and you can even add a small pond that catches water and keeps it contained.
Build a creek bed
A stone-lined creek bed is a pretty addition to any yard, whether it’s dry between rainstorms or carrying water away from where you don’t want it. You can send your sump pump water to it or use the creek in concert with a channel drain or French drain.
Try a channel drain
A channel drain is simply a trench you dig through or abutting a hard surface, like a patio or driveway, to manage runoff. This solution can be constructed in virtually any way you like to blend with your yard’s aesthetic, so it’s both attractive and functional.
Add dry wells or Flo-wells
If you have one specific area of the yard that’s causing you grief, you can try installing a dry well or Flo-well there. This is an underground catch basin that collects water and disperses it slowly. It should be buried in soil that will absorb released water well. Landscape fabric and rocks are placed over the water entrance hole at the top to keep it from clogging.
A Flo-well is just a much larger version of a dry well, which you can use when one or a series of several smaller dry wells isn’t sufficient. They’re great for collecting water from downspouts and French drains. Just remember, this well needs to be installed some distance from the house because it can hold 49 gallons of water at a time, which must all go back into the ground over time.
Use a French drain
Named for agriculturist Henry Flagg French, a French drain is a small ditch lined with piping and gravel that collects water and channels it elsewhere. The piping has spots at intervals along its length to take in excess water. Unlike a dry well, this yard drainage solution brings the water to a predetermined location rather than letting it filter into the soil where it lies. They’re often used close to a home’s foundation and can be discreetly hidden by plants. French drains are also a better alternative to a dry well if your soil has a high clay content.
Regrade the yard
Sometimes all the suggestions above just won’t do the trick. In that instance, you may need to regrade the yard, changing the slope away from where water is currently ponding. If the slope is fairly steep, accomplishing this with terraces or berms is usually a better solution.
Need Help with Your Yard Drainage?
Depending on your level of expertise, your physical fitness, available time, and the equipment available to you, many of these methods work best when executed by yard drainage professionals. At Moisture Loc, we can assess your unique situation and make recommendations that work with your lifestyle and budget. We have all the equipment and manpower to get the job done quickly and efficiently for you.
If you’ve been putting up with poor yard drainage for a long time, you may also have issues with a cracked foundation, mold growth, or unstable slap. Our experts can offer solutions there as well, so you protect your property now and in the future.
Moisture Loc offers a free initial consultation. Call us at 704-554-9229, or reach out online to let us know how we can help. Don’t let bad drainage cause headaches, escalating expenses, or depreciation of your home’s value. Get in touch today.