Water drainage for yard

Maybe you traded in your old home for a new one and didn’t notice the issue until after the first hard rain. Perhaps you took up gardening now that you have more time and the extra water you’re using seems to have led to a problem.

Whatever the reason, there are parts of your yard where water just seems to sit. You’re not quite sure why. You definitely don’t like the way it looks and also don’t like the idea of wasting water. You want to avoid having mud tracked into the house by pets or kids. Most importantly, you really don’t want your yard to become a mosquito magnet.

No one wants random, unsightly pools of water marring their yard. Here in the south, it’s an even bigger deal because our warm weather means longer mosquito seasons. Plus, when water won’t drain out of pockets in your yard, you are at a greater risk for erosion and potential damage to your foundation.

Now, pooling water is fairly common after big rainstorms, and you shouldn’t worry about it if the issue only occurs once in a while and resolves itself quickly. However, if it happens regularly, or the water doesn’t drain out after a few days, that’s a problem.

Are there ways to stop it from happening?

Absolutely. Want to know what you can do? Read on!


Standing Water In Yard After Rain: What Should You Do?

In dry climates, our yards and pools can have trouble after a heavy or prolonged period of rain. To get rid of standing water and keep it from coming back, you first need to understand what’s causing the problem. Drainage problems in the yard fall into two categories: habit-based or design-based.

Of the two, dealing with a habit-based drainage issue is easier. It essentially means that you’re overwatering or have planted in such a way that it encourages pooling.

How do you know if this is the problem?

There are two basic things to try:

  1. Water less and see if that solves the issue. If you water manually, just decrease the amount of time or number of days you’re out there with the hose. If you have a sprinkler system, adjust the schedule.
  2. Check to see if the water seems to pool around your plants. In particular, this often happens when people create a plant bed up against the side of their house and separate it from the yard with stones or something similar. When you do this, you make a water basin and prevent it from draining down into the lawn properly. A simple solution to this issue is to extend your downspout so any rain coming down from the gutter flows out past the plant bed and into the larger lawn.

What if that doesn’t work? Then you’re likely dealing with a design-based problem. Typically, that means one of five things:

Improper Grading

The “grade” of your lawn refers to how it slopes. With proper grading, the land should be highest at the base of your house and slope downward as you get farther out, preferably leading to an alleyway, storm sewer or street.

The Problem

Unfortunately, not all lawns have this ideal grade–especially backyards. Perhaps you’re in a neighborhood where your back lawn is separated from that of another homeowner only by a fence. If both lawns have been graded to slope away from your respective houses, water is more likely to pool at the fence-line. Alternatively, many lawns simply contain (or develop) specific low spots that allow water to build up after it rains.

The Solution

You can re-grade the lawn to correct the overall slope and get rid of any low spots. This isn’t a simple job. You should work with a professional who can conduct a lawn survey and let you know where the drainage outlets, natural channels and low points are.

Thatch Issues

Thatch refers to the organic debris on your lawn that exists between the green vegetation at the top and the surface of the soil below. Thatch can include all kinds of matter, both living and dead: grass clippings, leaves, roots, shoots, stems and so on.

For water to drain properly, moisture needs to soak into the ground. If there is a thick layer of thatch covering your lawn, this process can become much more difficult, causing water to pool on top rather than seeping into the soil.

De-thatch and aerate. This means you need to get rid of the layer of thatch (you can use a mower, rake, or dethatcher) and then make small holes in the soil about four inches deep and two inches apart.

Soil Problems

How well water soaks into the ground depends on the type of soil you have on your property.

If you have soil largely comprised of heavy clay or a compact material, it will naturally be less absorbent, which can lead to drainage issues.

Work amendment like manure, leaf mold, and compost into your soil. These materials will break up the harder, less absorbent parts and help you create more channels that water will be able to drain into.


It’s not just the soil that you need to worry about, but also the subsoil–basically, the ground underneath the topsoil, which only goes down a few inches. Hardpan is thick, dense subsoil that is practically impervious, and it can occur naturally or be accidentally created by construction vehicles.

Water can’t soak into hardpan, so it will drain down through the first few inches of topsoil, then basically just sit there and build until it comes back up through the topsoil and pools on your lawn.

Wait until there’s a long period without rain, then get a shovel and start digging. That’s right. The best way to deal with hardpan is to dig down to it and break it up. If the hardpan is particularly dense, you may need to consult with a professional who has the proper tools to drill through the subsoil to loosen it up.

Water Table Too High

You probably know that the earth is saturated with water deep under the ground. It’s why people create wells. Dig down deep enough in just about any area and you’ll hit ground water. The depth of this groundwater is called the water table–in other words, the level of the water under the ground.

In short, the water table is a lot higher in some areas than others. If you live in a place where the water table is close to the surface, drainage can be difficult because there’s just nowhere for the water to go when it rains.

Dealing with a water table that’s too high is tough, but there are options available to you. Some people used raised plant beds by adding more soil. Others lower the borders of their lawn, so the water will drain away from the main area. Then there are those who work with the land and grow plants with shallow roots that do better in wet conditions. Other homeowners employ a combination of these approaches.

What Is a French Drain and How Does It Work?

If you’ve been looking up ways to deal with standing water in your yard, you’ve probably run across the term “French drain.” Sounds intimidating, right? Wondering what the heck it is? And what exactly it does?

This is one of those situations where the name makes it sound like a much bigger deal than it really is. The simplest way to describe a French drain is that it’s a flexible plastic drain pipe that you can place under your lawn to help channel water away.

Still sound complicated? Here’s how to put in a French drain if you are experiencing drainage issues:

  1. Identify where you have standing water in your yard.
  2. Use a shovel to dig a trench in that area that leads to a place where the water can more easily drain.
  3. Line the trench with pea gravel.
  4. Purchase a French drain pipe or simply get a plastic, flexible landscape pipe. If you use a general landscape pipe, perforate it with holes and cover it with landscape fabric, leaving both ends of the pipe open to encourage drainage.
  5. Place the pipe in the dug-out trench, making sure that the trench is deep enough that the top of the pipe does not reach ground level.
  6. Cover the pipe with dirt and additional pea gravel so it blends in with the rest of your lawn.

Now you have a French drain! It’s a simple way to add very basic “plumbing” to your lawn and alleviate drainage issues in specific areas.

Diverting Water From The Foundation Of Your House

Typically, when people contact a home services company about drainage issues, they’re worried about specific pools of standing water out in the yard. However, there’s another issue that can end up causing far bigger problems–worse, it may be largely invisible in many cases.

What are we talking about? Water encroaching on your home’s foundation. This scenario can be a problem for a number of reasons.

First of all, water near your home’s foundation can cause cracks and remove soil supporting the slab and the footings, which can lead to wall problems. If you have a basement, water can actually seep through the walls and into your home.

Repairing these issues can be quite expensive, and really isn’t something you want to have to deal with.

Fortunately, you have several options to keep water away from your foundation, all of which we already mentioned which can help with other drainage issues you may be experiencing.

Extending Your Downspouts

Gutters can direct most of the water several feet away from the house, thereby alleviating a lot of potential issues.

Adding A French Drain

Many homeowners wrap a French drain all the way around their house so any water that gets close will be channeled away.

Fixing Your Grade

Get a yardstick and some measuring tape. Have someone hold the tape at the level of the ground right next to the bottom edge of where the foundation meets the soil, then spool it out until you’re 10 feet away from the house. Doing your best to keep the measuring tape level with the soil next to the house, stand the yardstick up at the 10-foot mark. Ideally, the yard at this point should be about six inches lower than it is next to the house. If not, you should correct your grade.

Making things even more complicated is the fact that in some areas of Texas, watering your foundation is actually recommended! Bottom line? If you’re concerned, the smartest thing you can do is talk to a professional.

Other Backyard Drainage Problems And Solutions

If we’ve learned anything in the years that we’ve been helping people with their landscape issues, it’s that there are as many specific drainage problems and solutions as there are yards. However, most of them fall into the basic categories already detailed above.

That being said, here are a few more issues–and solutions–we haven’t discussed:

The Sidewalk Dam

Though front yard issues aren’t as prevalent, one problem specific to the front relates to having a sidewalk. If you’ve got one, it’s possible that it could be acting as a dam and preventing water from draining out of your yard. You can solve this issue by:

  • Removing or cutting away part of the sidewalk to let water through.
  • Piping water underneath.
  • Routing water across the yard to an area with better drainage.

Runoff Erosion

We mentioned erosion above, but not in much detail. Erosion commonly occurs near downspouts or pipe openings due to the excessive amount of water. You can solve the issue by:

  • Installing a creek bed.
  • Using a catch basin.

Another attractive solution to standing water issues that’s becoming more popular is to add a rain garden, which is an area filled with plants that love water.

ABC Can Solve Your Lawn Drainage Issues

If you’re interested in learning more about drainage solutions (or simply feel like these all sound too complicated and exhausting for you to handle on your own), ABC Home & Commercial Services is always happy to help. All you have to do get started is reach out to our office. No matter what your landscape issue or how you want to solve it, we’re here for you.

How to Get Rid of Standing Water in Your Yard

Few things are more annoying that finding standing water in your yard just because you live in a low-lying area.

Standing water can kill the grass and other plants in your yard, thereby ruining your home’s landscape. It can also pose as a potential health hazard, becoming a breeding ground for mosquito larvae and other pests.

How many times have you been absolutely disgusted and distressed to find standing water in your yard, only to realize that this problem is becoming more common after rainfall?

Monsoons will soon be upon us, and with Berwyn being susceptible to flooding, it would make sense to put into place the necessary precautionary measures to avoid stagnant water from accumulating in your yard again.

You may think that draining the excess water would be the perfect solution to this problem, and you would be absolutely right. However, there are a few things to keep on mind before going ahead with your plans. Here’s more on that.

Where Should the Water Go?

Before you start draining the accumulated water off your lawn, you need to figure out exactly where you want it to end up. It is unthinkable to use your water drains to route it towards a neighbor’s property as that could just land you in a legal soup. Thinking of directing it towards the street? Think again, as that will bring with it another set of problems.

It may be difficult for you to get permission to connect your water drain to an existing storm sewer from the concerned authorities. If you can, however, manage to get such permission, such an arrangement can work the best.

Tried that and it doesn’t seem to work? That may be because your water drains are clogged up. With Berwyn getting flooded so frequently, there may be times when the sewer might be congested with the debris from the floods. You will do well to ensure beforehand that the sewers are unclogged and functional to allow the water to flow freely through them.

A skilled plumber should be your best bet. Sewer rodding in Berwyn isn’t unheard of and your plumber should be able to unclog your sewers in no time to solve your problem.

Say Goodbye to Standing Water Woes

If you find that water tends to accumulate regularly near the foundation of your home, you should be extremely concerned because, sooner or later, it may find a way to seep into your home. Water gathering further out in the yard can give rise to a mosquito problem. This is a home maintenance problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Thanks to the law of gravity, water will always flow downhill. In an ideal scenario, every house would be built at a height, which would cause the water to flow downwards. However, not everyone is blessed with such living conditions. You, therefore, need to work on keeping all the unwanted water at least 10 feet away from the foundation of your home and clear up recurring wet spots in your yard.

Wondering how to do so? Here’s how.

  • Working with Drainage Systems

When installing downspouts next to your home, make sure you extend them 10 feet from it. You may find them to be a tad hideous and a stumbling hazard. But there’s a way around this. Use a PVC pipe, which is stronger and less susceptible to clogging as compared to the regular black corrugated pipe. Bury it underground so it doesn’t make your surroundings look ghastly or keep coming in your way.

Consider installing a French drainage system in your yard. It consists of a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel installed in an underground trench. Alternatively, a draining ditch or an embankment can be created in the ground which can lead the excess water to a predetermined collection area.

Do ensure that the exhaust of the sump pump is located at least 10 feet away from your house. If it is located close to it, you can rest assured that the waste water will recede back to the foundation, causing the sump to repeatedly pump out the same water.

Before you start digging, do ensure to check with all utility companies about the underground lines. This is an important precautionary measure. Additionally, do make sure that you don’t end up passing on your water woes to your neighbors. Do act responsibly.

  • Landscape Drainage

For an effective landscape drainage, maintain about 6 inches of visible foundation next to your home at all times. Watch out for the height and the slope of the mulch. which will need to be reapplied every year. If it is too high, it will change the flow of the water next to the house, maybe even cause it to go over the foundation or seep into the siding and damage it. Further, it may also make it easier for termites to do their damage.

Certain wet spots in your yard can be turned into a pond or a rain garden with plants which can handle wet roots. Trees such as willow, bald cypress and river birch, black-eyed susans or purple cone flowers are popular options. Do keep in mind that despite having these plants, the underlying drainage issues will have to be addressed before converting a wet spot in a rain garden as no tree/plant can grow well in a pond.


Whether it is the roof, the basement or the curb of your home, water can be the biggest and the most persistent threat to it. It is, therefore, extremely important to address this issue with correct and long-lasting solutions. Consulting and engaging the services of a skilled plumber may help you immunize your home to the effects brought on by excessive water. The above tips should work in giving you a better insight into this problem and tackling it sensibly.

Solutions for Homesite Drainage

Solving the three most common backyard drainage problems By Maureen Gilmer Swipe to view slides

  • A French drain located beneath this gravel walkway provides drainage for adjacent lawn and planting areas.
  • Perforated drain line may be laid into a French drain then packed with gravel before backfill and finish grading.
  • Spot elevations tell the design if there is a low spot such as this which can become a quagmire in wet weather.
  • This multifamily complex is drained into a single swale planted with grasses and plane trees to slow velocity and disguise its visibility in the dry season.
  • Digging a test hole not only evaluates how fast your soil drains, it also reveals whether dense soil or hardpan exist there.
  • This rural property turns a problem low spot into an attractive wetland bog garden.
  • During construction the contractor trenches for the underground drainage system that will connect all drop inlets throughout the property.
  • Later in the construction process the drop inlets are positioned and grates are added to keep litter out of the drain lines.
  • During the dormant season it’s easy to see how this grassy woodland was graded to surface drain into this meandering swale.
  • A trench drain allows large surfaces to drain to a linear catch basin positioned beneath a brick accent band in the paving.

Other Common Landscaping Problems:

Hillside Landscaping
Rocky Soil
View all Common Landscaping Problems

Where land is flat, soils are dense or the water table is high, a well designed drainage system is a priority. Without proper drainage solutions in place, water may collect to undermine structures and drown expensive plants, turning parts of your new landscape into perpetually wet swamps. This can be the most important issue to a landscape architect due to this potential for damage. Backyard drainage may also be overlooked entirely by a designer poorly trained in grading and drainage.

Do You Have Drainage Problems?

A good designer will analyze the nature of your yard, and may “shoot the grades” to establish the exact topography no matter how flat the site may seem. Spot elevations tell the designer where problems lie so that she can solve them through design.

Ground water can also play an important role in drainage, and it is directly related to rainfall patterns. In the low lying areas of the South, the water table can be just inches below the surface. Such conditions create all sorts of problems for construction and limit planting options.

Rainfall is the periodic catalyst that sets drainage problems in gear. Where heavy downpours are common, poorly drained sites can become flooded for a short time if drainage structures are in place, or extended periods if they are not. Add heavy rainfall to a high water table and the potential for damage increases exponentially.

Test Your Current Drainage

Find out what’s going on underground with this simple test. Dig a hole about two feet deep and as wide. Fill it to the top with water. If it drains away within an hour your drainage is excellent. If it takes 12 hours to drain, there may be problems. If it takes more than 24 hours to drain, then there is a serious problem that could impact the deep root zone of trees and shrubs.

Problem #1: Surface Water

Solution: Surface Drainage

Homesites with clay soils suffer problems with lingering surface water. In theory every lot was graded to drain so that water in the backyard flows through a swale down the sideyard to the curb or storm drain. The reality is that builders don’t always get their grades right and water becomes trapped, causing muddy zones in lawns and planting areas (see Lawn Drainage). When your designer creates the new drainage plan, it may utilize surface grading to ensure there is enough fall to drain. If there is not, another option must be found.

The French drain is an age old drainage solution that gathers water and provides a place underground where it may take its time percolating down through dense soils. It is essentially a trench that is dug to any depth and filled with gravel and possibly a perforated drain line. Roofing felt or geotextiles are laid over the top of the gravel and the soil replaced. The surrounding area is graded to drain to this trench so water no longer gathers on the surface to create problems.

Problem #2: Hardpan

Solution: Underground drainage

Where hardpan layers exist, the entire site may suffer poor drainage and standing water. This is too great a challenge for spot solutions. Insist on a site-wide grading and drainage plan with an underground system of pipes fed by drop inlets or trench drains. The advent of easy to install plastic piping makes it easier to move water off site and directly into the storm drain.

The drainage plan may prove to be the most important part of your project in areas of high rainfall such as Florida or Seattle where heavy flows are common. Such drainage costs more to install, but it pays for itself time and again. Where there is no storm drain or it is inaccessible, this kind of system may flow into an underground sump. This is a large hole dug and packed with gravel where water stands until it drains away. With luck, digging of a sump punches through hardpan into more porous soils deeper down.

Wetland Trees

If your yard has a high water table or poor drainage it can be difficult to find trees that will thrive. Here is a list of 10 trees for a wet garden.

Problem #3: High Water table

Solution: Raise it or use water loving plants

Low lying areas with a high water table can make landscaping a real challenge. Plant roots in saturated soil during the growing season are denied oxygen, and quickly rot just like an overwatered house plant. Certain plants that originate in river bottoms and wetlands do quite well in high water landscapes. The best choices will be riparian species from local bogs, fens and swamps naturally adapted to your climate and soils. Trees from similar wetlands elsewhere in the world also make good candidates. These provide more diversity than what is native to local plant communities.

The other solution for high water table landscapes is to raise the planting areas, an expensive but effective option. Raised planter heights can vary according to what the designer wants to grow there. For trees and large shrubs, the size of such planters must be greater to keep the root crown high and dry. The root crown is a woody structure at the base of the trunk from which roots diverge out into the soil. Where planting is limited to smaller shrubs and perennials, the depth of the planter may be shallow and thus less expensive. The challenge to your designer is to balance the cost of raised beds with the benefits of her proposed planting.

5 Common Landscape Drainage Problems (and How to Solve Them!)

You don’t have to be a professional to know your lawn has a drainage problem.

The water line on the side of your home, bare roots and yard rivets that look like little streams are hard to miss.

These issues are not only unsightly, but they can also lead to some serious damage if left untreated.

Why Proper Drainage is Important

If you don’t have good drainage on your landscape, chances are, your outdoor living space isn’t going to be a success.

And there’s one factor that will decide if you have drainage issues: having something that hinders water from moving downhill. It’s really that simple.

It could be the result of neglecting to design a stormwater drainage plan or, most often, attempting to correct something without the proper experience and knowledge.

Drainage plans are a vital part of any landscape design. It could consist of an elaborate plan with a catch basin, large and small diameter pipe, sump pump, French drain, gravel and head walls. Or, it could be as small as just thinking about what happens on your terrace when you water a new container plant.

Water is obviously a necessity for a healthy landscape, but you need to know how to properly distribute this resource to prevent issues. If you don’t, the results can be disastrous.

Here are the five most common landscape drainage problems and how to fix them.

1. Poor Elevation at the Foundation

One of the most prevalent drainage problems we see when water is being held at the foundation of a client’s home.

That can be disastrous to the house’s interior finishes, such as drywall or wood floors, and it can also contribute to foundation failure. These are all major issues that could have easily been avoided at the initial construction of the house by elevating the house slab enough to get proper slope away from the home.

Solution: Grading around your home to create another place for the water to flow can help keep it from building up around the foundation. You can also install a sub-surface drainage system that includes a catch basin and pipe.

2. Plant Bed Designs

There’s more to think about than just what plants you want installed in your beds. You also need to consider the bed’s layout if you want to prevent another common drainage issue.

Improper bed designs impede the natural water flow, keeping the water from moving in the direction the developer and engineer intended. That could cause the water to remain in the beds, killing your plants, or going in a direction that causes other damage.

Solution: Your drainage solution should include a calculator and a site level to make sure you calculate the proper slope to efficiently move the water down hill.

3. Water Traps

Improper grading of your yard can create depressions that hold water.

This excess water will ultimately kill your turf and plant material. Plus, it can leave you with marshy conditions in those areas if it continues.

Solution: You can give water a better place to go by installing creek beds that allow stormwater to be moved on the surface. These creeks can also add some aesthetic value. In extreme causes where there are no other ways to move the water using gravity, you can use mechanical options to evacuate the water with a sump pump.

4. Paved Surfaces

Having the proper grade isn’t just important for your yard — it’s also vital to preventing drainage problems with your hardscape surfaces.

You need to make sure your solid surfaces like a driveway, pool deck, terraces and walkways have the proper slope.

Solution: In addition to properly grading the area, you can also install retaining walls to help with drainage issues.

5. Gutter Spouts

Another common drainage problem is when gutter down spout exits aren’t properly addressed.

If the gutter is emptying into bed areas and over saturating plant material, or dumping concentrated amounts of water on paved surfaces, you will have issues.

Solution: Be mindful of where your gutters are pouring water, and redirect them so the water will go down hill.

Hire a Landscape Drainage Professional

You want to fix any drainage issues you have as soon as possible, and one way of doing that is by hiring a landscaping company.

Depending on the complexity of your drainage issue, this is one of the landscape projects that, many times, should be left to a professional. A fraction of an inch can make the difference between solving the problem and spending more money to fix the drainage twice.

Whatever corrective drainage measure you select for your property, the most important thing is to identify your water patterns and ensure they work within the scope of your overall design.

Here at Michael Hatcher & Associates, we can help diagnose your drainage problem and create a lasting solution.

In addition to water management, we also offer lawn care, custom patios, commercial and residential maintenance, landscape design, lighting, outdoor entertainment, custom gunite pools and urban gardening services. Our service area covers Memphis and the Mid-South.

No matter your drainage or landscape needs, we can handle it all.

Contact Michael Hatcher & Associates at 901-755-3207 or by filling out a form online. You can also request a free consultation online.

How to improve drainage in my lawn

A lawn with poor drainage can develop a multitude of problems including fungal, disease, weed infestation and even lead to your grass dying.

Getting your lawns drainage correct before installing a new lawn can save you a lot of headaches like these down the track. But if you already have a lawn and you have a few low spots where water is pooling there are some things you can do.

First thing you can try is aeration.

Aerating your lawn will help to improve permeability allowing water to be absorbed better. If your drainage issue is quite severe though, regular aerating may not be enough to stop water from pooling.

Topdressing to improve soil profile.

If your soil base is compacted and has a high proportion of clay, regular aerating combined with topdressing will help to improve the soil profile and better allow for water absorption, but this should only be done during the warmer months of the year. It would also be advisable to spread gypsum which will help the water to seep down deeper.

If the problem continues to persist however even after only a light to moderate amount of rain, you will need to look at a more permanent solution to your drainage issues.

French Drain

A French drain is a common solution that involves digging a trench with at least a 2-4% slope for the excess water to flow into. For a 1-metre trench for example you would need the slope to be at least 2cm from the highest point to the lowest. At the bottom of the trench is a perforated pipe that is covered over with gravel.


A drywell is a large hole in the ground filled with gravel, with an inlet line coming from a drain, downpipe or French drain coming into the pit. A drywell will help to transfer surface water deeper into the subsoil.

Dry Creek Bed

A dry creek bed is a trench that usually follows along a channel or the natural fall of the surface, filled with gravel or stones. This helps to control the water flow, diverting it away from low spots and preventing erosion through run off. Dry creek beds are becoming more common as they provide an interesting element for landscaping and also provide a practical drainage solution.

There are many other options available to suit different situations, so if you are uncertain on what drainage option is the best solution for your area, it’s best that you bring in an expert.

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Have you noticed any large water puddles on your lawn after a heavy rainfall or when the snow melts in the Spring? The water puddles remain on the surface of your lawn for a few days before it dissipates. The accumulation of surface water or poor lawn drainage could be a result of soil compaction. Soil compaction occurs when the soil particles are compressed together eliminating most pore spaces that are usually filled with air and water. The mineral grains in clay soil are compressed together tightly preventing water from being absorbed. Soil compaction is ideal if you are building a walkway, patio, or even a road but for a lawn not so good.

Clay soil is mostly clay and silt. The small particles cling together capturing some water and rich nutrients closely. This tight compaction structure prevents excess water from draining and can cause a lawn drainage problem. The clay soil appearance is sticky and brown in color that balls up in large size, heavy clumps. Clay soil will cling to your garden gloves, tools and garden boots, and has a slippery feel to it. Maybe you have noticed that when working in clay soil it is extremely difficult to break into or dig out.

Lawn Drainage Problems? Amazing Gypsum Additive May Help – Large puddles on water-logged lawns

Likewise, heavy clay soil texture hinders plant roots from reaching nutrients and moisture locked within the clay soil. And conversely clay soil that retains water also prevents water from draining. If water does not drain properly away from your grass roots and too much water remains on the grass, the grass will suffer. Grass lawns with excess water or rainfall that is not absorbed can create a lawn drainage problem.

You can add sphagnum peat moss to clay soil to improve water absorption for future use. Sphagnum peat moss lightens clay soil providing access to the nutrients locked inside clay soil. As clay soil becomes lighter, the soil will become more aerated.

Lawn Drainage Problems? Amazing Gypsum Additive May Help

Another source to consider for clay soil lawns, is Garden Gypsum. Gypsum is a natural mineral, great source of calcium, and soil conditioner that reconditions the clay soil so it binds organic matter to the clay. This clay soil break down process promotes soil aeration to improved soil structure and strong root growth. Nutrients and moisture are more easily absorbed by grass roots with soil that is light and airy. As clay soil breaks down, aeration is improved and the once clumped soil allows excess water to drain. And in some cases, Gypsum may even help with repairing pet turf burns as well.

Lawn Drainage Problems? Amazing Gypsum Additive May Help (Pelleted Gypsum for Lawns)

If you are experiencing poor lawn drainage, saturated soil or soil compaction in your lawn you may want to check your soil to see if you have a soil compaction problem. Lawn grass or garden plants will continue to struggle to tap into nutrient rich clay soils until the condition is resolved.

If you are creating a new garden it is easy to mix in compost, organic humus, or sphagnum peat moss into your garden soil while preparing the garden bed. For a large front yard or backyard, adding compost or sphagnum peat moss will be more time consuming. Pelleted Gypsum might be a better method of treating clay lawn soil. It can be applied using a lawn spreader and immediately water your lawn afterwards so the the gypsum begins to penetrate the clay soil. If you are experiencing a similar problem let us know what you think.

And if you have any questions about your garden, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below. We always are ready to help you out. Be sure to check out our other posts regarding soil amendments. Additional information and specifics on soil amendments can be found in How to Make a Fertile Garden with Soil Amendments post or 12 Incredible Soil Conditioners: Improve Garden Soil Structure.

Common Yard Drainage Problems And Solutions For Property Owners

Yard drainage is probably the most overlooked component of your home’s plumbing system. If you have a landscaped yard, paved area, or swimming pool area, poor drainage can present a whole range of issues for you as a property owner. Poor yard drainage makes for the risk of creating a breeding ground for insects, and foul stagnant water. Both of these present health issues for you and your family. Additional points of concern include ruined plants, shrubbery, and potential trip and falls.

In many instances homeowners, such as yourself, tend to ignore such conditions until water drainage problems have become severe. Severe drainage issues can result in you and your family slogging around in bacteria and insect infested tainted water. Your front and back yards should not become similar to a jungle habitat.

The 4 most common yard drainage problems

When you think of drainage problems, most homeowners immediately think of drains inside the house. However, just like inside drains, yard drain issues can affect your quality of life just as well. Many of these issues are easily avoidable just by doing a routine visual inspection, or periodic maintenance.

1. Clogged Yard Drains and Area Drains

Many things can clog yard drains. Because many yard drains are located near a grass area, the usual suspects are leaves, twigs, grass cuttings, and trash. It’s always a good idea to periodically check your yard and area drains. You can see a small portion of yard drain from above the grating. It should be easy to see if an accumulation of debris or sediment is obstructing the water flow. This cure can be as simple as opening the grate when necessary and removing these items lying in the base of the drain. This is an easy fix; you can use a garden scoop, or simply put on a rubber glove and use your hand.

A clogged area drain can allow water to enter a basement

It is not advisable to flush them with a garden hose, as these items then tend to clog the pipe itself. If there is a long-standing problem that has made its way into the pipe, a sewer cleaning or water jet may be needed. In some cases pushing a pressurized garden hose in and out of the pipe can flush out the debris.

2. Dirt and Debris in Yard Drain

During the Fall season, a heavy load of dirt and debris can easily enter the yard drain. As the leaves begin to dry and fall from the trees, many of them get stuck under the grate. Carrying out yard maintenance and regular cleaning or mowing can help prevent clogging. Before heavy Spring rains occur, always make sure your yard drain gratings are cleaned of any sediment or leaves. This simple step can save you from a flooded area, or property damage. This is particularly true of area drains that are located just outside of an entry door.

While leaves are common culprits, tree roots present the more serious threat. Tree roots often look for the nearest source of water. Since area and yard drain lines are shallow, it is not unusual for roots to penetrate yard drainage lines. Yard drains provide the moisture that the roots need, and roots are strong enough to penetrate through old pipes, causing breaks and blockages.

3. Low Lying Areas with Poor Drainage

Sloping is another factor. The flooded areas in your lawn, or finished areas, are possibly caused by improper sloping or grading of your yard itself. If this is the case, check how the grading is structured in your property. This can be done using a line level, which is simply a line of rope with a level hanging off of it. A more sophisticated device is a lazer level.

Pooling water can create health issues

Affected areas usually have a poor drainage design, or no drainage system at all. Even when your own yard water usage does not cause the flood, your neighbor’s sprinkler systems can be the problem due to grading issues. But most frequently it is due to rainwater. In some rare cases dislodged sanitary home drain lines can seep waste water to outside the house itself. Needless to say, this poses the most severe health danger.

4. Stagnant Water

Pools of standing water in your yard is clear sign of drainage problem. If this is the case, there can be multiple underlying issues. As an example, existing hardpan (soil with a high clay content has very poor drainage qualities) in your property and poor grading. A hardpan calls for site-wide inspection and possibly a new drainage plan. The solution may involve excavation in wide areas of the lawn. In areas with high rainfall, pools of standing water make your yard not only aesthetically unpleasing but also a breeding ground for insects, hence health problems. Stagnant water creates the perfect environment for the following insects to breed and thrive: Mosquito, Fly maggots, Dragonfly nymphs, and Water scorpions. Some insects are more than just nuisance. They are known to be carriers of dangerous diseases.

Your 4 Primary Yard Drainage Solutions

To prevent all those issues, the obvious solution is to install proper yard drainage, have it regularly checked for issues, or install a water receptacle such as a drywell. Maintenance is the easiest part; installing a drain and drywell are jobs best left to professionals. In some cases a simple fix can be to extend the roof gutter downspout further away from the affected area. Creating a creek bed can be good idea, but this can involve a lot of work and know-how.

For a more permanent solution, you need to call a professional plumber or architect to determine the real problem. Trust a professional to then recommend the most viable approach to solve it. Building a new drainage system or unclogging severely damaged yard drainage pipes can be quite expensive. But relieving yourself of a potential health issue, potential liability,and raising your quality of life, should make it well worth it.

1. Installing a Yard Drain

Before the actual installation begins, a professional needs to understand the layout of your property. Local plumbing code can also be a factor. Important to note is that not all public or home sewers are allowed to accept rain water. This will include driveway, patios, landscaping, garage roof runoff, distance to the street, etc. A plumber can determine low lying spots in the yard using a leveling method.

Pre cast area drain

Yard drains are intended to direct water to a municipal storm or combined sewer, drywell, or detention tank; but not to your neighbor’s property. For large scale plumbing modification, chances are you need permit and approved plans. Professional plumbers understand the local code and regulations. And a licensed plumber is capable of securing the proper permits on your behalf.

2. Installing a Drywell

Drywells are an environmentally friendly solution or addition to an existing yard drainage system. Instead of allowing water to flow to a municipal sewer system or absorbed by soil, a drywell discharges excess water into the soil surrounding the drywell itself. With the help of downspouts and drains, water is directed to the drywell. Drywells allow for drainage in which a natural filtering process happens. Water will eventually end up as local groundwater.

A drywell is effective when you have layer of hardpan in the yard. Digging through the hardpan will allow water to enter more porous soil at a deeper location. Like any plumbing installation, it has to be carefully designed and sized out. It also involves testing the surrounding soil for its absorption rate (also called soil percolation). A poorly designed drywell will serve little purpose, and be a needless and costly addition.

3. Yard Drain Maintenance

Yard drainage is not something that maintains itself without any maintenance. Yard drains require regular maintenance or cleaning to make sure everything works as intended. Simple cleaning near the grate area, and occasional flushing with a garden hose, should be enough to keep the pipes free from dirt and debris accumulation. Hydro Jet cleaning is also good idea, and it is safer to call a plumber to do it for you.

In some cases the wall of an area drain will become porous or disintegrate. They can usually be easily repaired and made water tight. A great and not-too costly option is purchasing and installing a pre-cast iron or composite area drain sump pit. They are typically nicely designed, inexpensive, extremely long-lasting, water-tight, and trouble free.

4. French Drains

French Drain installation in progress

One of the oldest and most widely used yard drainage systems is a French drain. Basic construction is comprised of perforated pipes, wrapped in filter fabric and crushed stone, to keep debris out. The pipes are buried under gravel and other material through which water can easily penetrate and enter the pipe. This system is effective to disperse water through the landscape or direct it to drainage. A French drain is ideal for when water accumulates at a high point in the yard, such as in front of a retaining wall. The French drain then directs the water to a lower point using gravity.

Yard Drainage Professionals

No matter what your yard drainage issues may be, they are most often best left to a professional. Issues such as soil conditions, slope of the ground, calculating volume of water, and plumbing design, are just some of the issues involved in devising a resolution to a drain problem. Needless to say, these are not considerations easily tackled by a homeowner. Before you spend time and money needlessly, it is suggested you contact your local licensed plumbing and drain professional. If you reside in the NYC, contact the drain experts at the Balkan Team.

Garden Drainage – How To Correct Yard Drainage Problems

Yard drainage problems can wreak havoc on a garden or lawn, especially after a heavy rain. Poor garden or lawn drainage will prevent oxygen from getting to the roots of plants, which kills the roots and also creates an environment perfect for fungus such as root rot to take hold and further damage a plant. When you take steps to improve soil drainage, you can improve the overall health of your lawn and garden.

Solutions for Yard Drainage Problems

Most minor garden and lawn drainage issues are caused by clay soil. A minor issue will be that you have standing water after a heavy rainfall for less than a day. Clay soil is more dense than sandy or loamy soil, and therefore, is slower to allow rainwater to filter through it. Minor yard drainage problems like this can usually be corrected by taking steps to improve clay soil.

For more serious lawn and garden drainage problems, there are several things you can try to improve soil drainage. A more serious drainage issue means that you have standing water after light to moderate rainfall or if the standing water stays for more than a day. These drainage issues can be caused by high water tables, low grading compared to surrounding properties, layers of hard materials (like stone) below the soil and extremely compacted soil.

One solution for yard drainage issues is to create an underground drain. The most common underground drain is a French drain, which is essentially a ditch that is filled with gravel and then covered over. Drainage wells are another common underground solution for compacted soil or hard sub-layers that allows the water somewhere to run after rainfall.

Another way to improve soil drainage is to build up the soil where you are having the drainage issue or create a berm to redirect the water flow. This works best for garden drainage where specific beds may be getting flooded. Be aware, though, that when you build up a bed, the water will run somewhere else, which may create drainage issues elsewhere.

Creating a pond or a rain garden has started to become popular as solutions for yard drainage problems. Both of these solutions not only help collect excess rainwater, but also add a lovely feature to your landscape.

Rain barrels are another thing that can be added to help with drainage. Oftentimes, yards that have drainage problems not only have to deal with the rainwater that falls into the yard, but rainwater from nearby buildings as well. Rain barrels can be attached to downspouts and will collect rainwater that would normally run into the yard. This collected rainwater can then be used later when rainfall is low to water your yard.

Yard drainage problems do not need to ruin your lawn or garden. When you improve soil drainage or use other solutions for yard drainage, you make it easier for your lawn and garden to grow beautiful.

How to Improve Drainage in Your Yard

So, your yard isn’t draining properly. It happens to homeowners across the country more often than you’d think, and it usually starts with small puddles and wet spots appearing in your grass. Maybe you’re starting to see muddy patches and swamp-like areas in your yard. These are classic symptoms of poor yard drainage, meaning the soil in your yard is retaining too much water. But why?

Common Causes of Yard Drainage Issues

There are several factors that can lead to a yard failing to vacate excess water properly. Different causes of yard drainage problems can call for different solutions and DIY approaches. The following are some of the most common reasons your yard may be draining poorly.

  • Yard slope or pitch: In many cases, water pools in a yard because the soil’s flat plane doesn’t divert enough water away from the house.
  • A too-short downspout: If your gutter’s downspout points directly into a flower bed or other landscaped area, excess water can collect in the mulch and soil beneath.
  • Impacted soil: This can be a result of construction projects, such as in-ground pools, around the house. Hardpan clay is especially problematic when impacted, as it can retain moisture for far longer than other types of soil.
  • Front walkways: If a sidewalk or concrete path sits in front of your house, it could be blocking off water, preventing it from running through your yard and into the storm drain.
  • Runoff erosion: If the runoff from your downspout has stripped away some of the topsoil in your yard, this can lead to heavy collection beneath the eroded area.

5 Yard Drainage Solutions You Can Do Yourself

Once you’ve identified your issue and the most likely cause, it’s time to set out a game plan for how to improve drainage in your yard. There are multiple options you can turn to, but be sure to research each carefully and have the tools necessary before committing to one.

1. Reduce Your Watering Schedule

Before launching into a costly and extensive DIY drainage project, consider the possibility that you could be overwatering your yard and/or garden. Try cutting down on your watering and watch the trouble spots to see if they drain or not. If they do, the soil could be draining properly but simply can’t keep up with your watering schedule. If not, it may be time to get your hands dirty.

Tools you’ll need: Most sprinkler systems can be set to operate at fewer or shorter intervals. If you water your yard manually, simply do so less often. Keep an eye on your wet zones over the next week or two to determine if your yard is indeed not draining.

2. Extend Your Downspout

If you find that the runoff causing your yard drainage problems is coming from your gutter system, the fix you’re looking for could be as easy as extending the downspout away from the house so that it doesn’t form a basin in your landscaped areas. However, if you’re diverting the runoff away from your house, make sure you’re sending it into a storm drain or other safe drainage source and not a neighboring property.

While you’re at it, you may want to make sure that the gutters themselves are working properly. Blocked or faulty gutters can cause water to overflow into your yard. If your roof turns into a waterfall every time it rains, it may be time to tackle a few gutter repairs.

Tools you’ll need: Additional drain spout material, power drill, pliers, screws, washers and bolts.

3. Dig a Creek Bed or Swale

If you have a soggy spot in your yard that a downspout extension can’t fix, you may need an artificial creek or drainage swale to draw water away from low spots. These projects usually involve digging the soil into a long, shallow trench and filling it with gravel and decorative rocks. Assuming your yard has the right downward slope, this installation will essentially act as a slide for runoff to escape through.

An added bonus to this project is that even when it’s not in use, a dry man-made creek can be an attractive addition to your landscaping.

Tools you’ll need: Trench-digging tools such as shovels and spades, gravel, rocks and a method for disposing of excess dirt.

4. Construct a Rain Garden

If there is a low spot on your property that collects water, and there isn’t enough slope to drain it with a creek bed, you could consider making that soggy patch work for you by turning it into a rain garden. Rain gardens are designed to catch rainfall and are usually filled with water-loving plants like hostas, ferns and ornamental mosses that can dry out saturated areas. They don’t necessarily solve the yard drainage issue, but they definitely are more attractive than a muddy hole full of soaking grass.

A completed rain garden will ideally drain water within 24 hours. This metric, as well as the level of porousness of the soil you’re building in, can help you determine how deep to dig the garden. Your rain garden can also be the ending point of a downspout or creek bed.

Tools you’ll need: Level, shovel, wheelbarrow, river rock, decorative stones, gravel, landscape fabric, PVC pipe and water-friendly plants.

5. Install a French Drain and/or Dry Well

When your soil has drainage issues that can’t be addressed by surface-level adjustments, it may be time to go deeper. Both French drains and dry wells are installed below the topsoil to disperse and redirect excess water, but there are key differences in their application and construction.

French Drain Versus Dry Well: What’s the Difference?

A French drain normally consists of a long trench filled with gravel or other substrate materials and a drainage pipe running from the house down the length of the drain. The pipe is then covered up with filter and either soil or river stone at the grade level. French drains are versatile and can be installed almost anywhere. They differ from a creek bed or drainage swale in that a French drain consists of buried piping underneath the soil, as opposed to a shallow trench that redirects runoff on the graded surface.

A dry well is usually installed at the endpoint of a creek, swale or French drain and is used to collect and disperse water into the surrounding soil instead of redirecting water away from the house. This is typically done using either a weighted sleeve of drainage fabric or a large metal or concrete basin with holes in its sides through which the collected water can drain out into the porous soil nearby. Larger dry well sections can be purchased at many home improvement stores.

For heavy-duty yard drainage improvement, a French drain connected to a downspout leading away from the house and ending in a dry well is a popular and effective solution. Be sure to check the soil conditions at your intended dry well installation site. If the soil there isn’t porous and doesn’t drain well, a dry well won’t do you any good there. This can be done by digging a small hole with a post digger, pouring water inside and observing how long it takes to drain.

Tools you’ll need: Waterproof plastic pipe, shovel, post digger, drainage cloth and/or metal or concrete dry well sections, topsoil, rocks and/or gravel.

Check Your Yard Often to Prevent Future Yard Drainage Issues

Even after you’ve tackled your chosen DIY yard drainage project and your property is back on track, it’s important to take care of your soil and keep watch for unwanted standing water in the future. If you’re concerned that your soil isn’t aerating enough, a round of rototilling can loosen the earth and help it drain more quickly.

Decorative rocks in the yard, if not placed properly, can also create barriers to runoff, causing water to pool in the grass. Consider relocating or removing some rocks from the yard to ensure rainwater has a clear path out of your yard.

When your yard isn’t draining the way it should be, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the task of fixing it. But with the right preparation and the right tools, you can take on a variety of DIY yard drainage ideas in a weekend or two to get your property back on track.

Looking to make other changes to your yard? No matter what you’re working on, learn how to throw away all kinds of project debris with ease, from concrete and bricks to yard waste and dirt.

Why Do I Have Standing Water in my Yard?

Standing water can be caused by many things: soil that doesn’t absorb water, grading issues, etc. Try these drainage solutions to keep your yard above water.

Keeping your lawn green and pristine is a matter of pride. So it can be upsetting to find a growing puddle of standing water in your yard. Not only is stagnant water unsightly, but it can also kill your grass, damage ornamental plants, compromise your home’s foundation, become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and be symptom of larger problems.

What causes water to accumulate on your lawn? What are the best methods of eliminating standing water? Here’s what homeowners need to know.

Causes of Standing Water

When stagnant water forms on your property, it can be a sign of either easily correctable habits or more fundamental design flaws.

Be careful of overwatering your lawn. If your home is equipped with an automatic sprinkler or irrigation system, you may need to make certain adjustments to address a problem with standing water. Try watering your lawn less frequently and/or for shorter periods of time.

If altering your gardening and maintenance habits doesn’t correct the issue, further investigation may be necessary. The following are common culprits in cases of standing water.

Grading. Lawns should be graded (or leveled) to ensure proper drainage. The slope should trend away from the house and direct run-off down towards the street, alleyway or storm sewer. If your landscaping doesn’t take the proper angle, water may collect on your lawn faster that it can drain. Improper drainage can also cause natural low spots in your yard to accumulate more and more water with each rainfall.

Thatch. Proper drainage also depends on your lawn’s permeability. A permeable lawn allows water to seep into the earth instead of collecting on the surface. If grass clippings or leaf litter clog on your lawn, they can prevent the soil from absorbing water as it would under normal conditions.

Soils. Hard, compact soils and heavy, sticky clay soils are also less absorbent and prevent surface water from seeping into the ground.

Hard subsoil. Hardpan is a thick layer of impervious subsoil. Hardpan can be naturally occurring, or it can be the result of construction equipment densely compacting yards and lawns which are then topped with a layer of topsoil, disguising the issue. Once water percolates down to the hardpan, it has nowhere else to go and begins pooling.

High water table. As rain seeps into the earth, it becomes groundwater. This groundwater forms a water table, a completely saturated level of subsurface soil and rock. In some instances, however, the water table can rise very close to the surface, creating waterlogged conditions.

Watering 101: How to Use Lawn Sprinklers Without Wasting Water

Ways To Get Rid of Standing Water

Fortunately, you don’t have to live with standing water. Depending on the ultimate cause of your standing water problem, you can take immediate action to boost your lawn’s ability to shed water.

Re-grade. Consult with a professional landscaper on re-grading the terrain around your home. Be sure to request that the landscaper provide a survey of your lawn’s low-lying points, natural channels and drainage outlets.

De-thatch. You can remove heavy thatch using a dethatcher, vertical mower, or even a simple lawn rake. Once you’ve removed the plant debris, pierce the turf with a garden fork or a lawn aerator. The small holes you make should be at least 4 inches deep and spaced 2 inches apart. Aerated soil is not only soil that drains properly — it’s also healthier soil.

Break it up. In order to make your lawn more amenable to water absorption, work organic matter into your soil. Garden compost, leaf mold and manure will all open the soil up and create more minute channels through which water can escape.

Dig. For hardpan problems, a shovel may be the best solution. If the hardpan is less than 2 feet thick, wait for a dry spell and then dig up as much as you can. If you can’t break up the hardpan yourself, consult with a professional contractor who specializes in drilling through densely packed subsoil.

Make accommodations. A high water table is a much more difficult issue to address. Instead, it’s a fact of life that you will likely have to work around. However, you can still improve drainage by increasing the depth of your lawn borders. You can also add layers of soil to create raised beds. Finally, you can landscape using more shallow-rooted plants capable of surviving wet conditions.

Install a French drain. A French drain (also known as a curtain drain) is actually a comprehensive drainage system made from rather simple materials. A graded trench directs the flow of water away from the home. The trench is then filled in with gravel, which lets gravity do the work of channeling the water into a perforated pipe that sits at the trench’s base.

Don’t let standing water keep you and your family from enjoying the outdoor areas around your home. By identifying the cause of your drainage problem and relying on good common sense, you can ensure that gray clouds don’t linger even after the storms have passed.

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