Problems With Landscape Drainage


You walk around your home after a hard rain and can see standing water around flowerbeds or maybe in various areas of your yard. Or maybe you notice watermarks around your home’s foundation. It doesn’t take the expertise of a landscape pro to realize you’ve got a drainage problem.

Not only is it unsightly, but also it can affect the use your outdoor spaces and can lead to some serious damage to your home if left untreated. You need to implement a plan to move water away from landscape features and out of your yard toward storm drains, ditches, and creeks or streams.

Here are some common landscape drainage issues and how to correct them.

Poor Grading Around Your Foundation

This is one of the most destructive problems when it comes to improper landscape drainage. When water is held around your home’s foundation, it will eventually work its way into the structure. It can enter the basement, crawl space, or even wick its way into a slab foundation. This can lead to the foundation’s concrete cracking, damage to drywall, flooring, finish trim, and could possibly result in a mold infestation if not corrected.

If this is a problem for you, it can be corrected by adding dirt to slope the ground away from your home. Check the level of the soil to see if it is too low or too high in relation to the building’s foundation or slab. A different solution would be to have a sub-surface drainage system installed. This would include a catch basin and piping that would allow the water to flow outward and away from the home. It may also include a pump if the water needs to be mechanically removed from around the home.

landscape drainage issuesProper grading away from foundation

Water Pooling In Your Yard

When you can see water collecting in low spots in your yard after a rain, it’s an indication of improper grading. Just because the water may be collecting out in the middle or side of the yard doesn’t mean that damage isn’t being done. That excess water can eventually kill your grass and threaten any trees, shrubs, or flowers that the water may partially cover. There is nothing worse than walking across the yard and sinking into a mushy, swamp-like mud hole.

Another reason to avoid allowing water to pool in your yard is that standing puddles of water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The insects are not only annoying but they are carriers of various diseases, namely malaria and West Nile virus.

Solve this problem by creating a swale (a grass-covered shallow ditch line) or by installing a French drain (essentially a shallow trench filled with gravel that will gather the water) to assist in moving the water away from low areas. Another option would be to haul in some topsoil to fill in the low spots and then reseed it with grass.

If the ground in the yards surrounding your home is higher than yours, water may just naturally drain in your home’s direction. This is a time when your best solution may be a drainage ditch, French drain, or earthen mound.

french drainsFrench Drains

Gutters and Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts can become clogged with dirt, leaves, or even bird nests. If the water can’t flow through them, then rainwater will overflow the gutters. If this happens the water will possibly pool along the side of your foundation, flow back up the roofline and under the shingles, or work its way beneath the siding or brick on your home.

Sometimes downspouts are directed into plastic drainpipes so that the water can be carried away underground. If these plastic drainpipes become clogged, the water has nowhere to go but along the side of the foundation. Several times we have found animals (squirrels and groundhogs in particular) have gotten into these drainpipes and converted them into a home of their own. That spells big trouble during a heavier than normal downpour. The last thing you want is for the gutters and downspouts to flood your flower beds, kill your plants and shrubs or run down your foundation to flood your basement.

You can solve this issue by making sure that water is freely flowing through your gutter system. Use splash blocks or pipes to direct water away from plant beds and foundations. Also, walk around your home and check to see that all your gutters are firmly attached and tight up against the gutter boards. This will prevent any water from leaking between the roof and the gutters and then down the side of the building.

Paved Walkways and Driveways

Sometimes circular drives and sidewalks are designed without any means for water to cross them. When they were constructed they should have been sloped away from any part of your home or landscape beds.

If paved areas are constructed improperly, the easiest solution may be to have them dug up, at least in part, and replaced. Proper grading is as critical for driveways and sidewalks as it is for the grading around foundations. On some occasions an issue like this can be corrected with the installation of a retaining wall to help direct water away from foundations and lower lying areas.

Root and Plant Disease

Poorly draining soil may cause tree and shrub problems. There are many diseases that attack plant roots causing root damage long before above ground symptoms may appear. Once a disease sets in, it may be too late to save the plants.

By adding soil or mulch around plants to improve grading and moisture absorption, you can help eliminate water from creating puddles around plants, shrubs and trees, and thus extend their beauty and life.

Another consideration for wetter than normal areas is to plant moisture-loving plants. Some examples are grass-like plants like reeds and rushes, certain types of flowering perennials like hibiscus or canna lilies, and trees like cypress, willows and birches.

How to Get Help for Water Damage

If your home experiences water damage due to poor landscape design you can get immediate, 24-hour assistance by calling 877-960-0491. Experienced professionals are available that will answer any questions you may have, and dispatch qualified technicians to your home to assess water damage issues and offer solutions to your individual problem.




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Written by Mark Huey