From improper grading to drainage obstacles, there are many reasons why your yard may have pockets of standing water or muddy puddles. Despite drainage issues being such a common problem, many homeowners don’t know what to do and either spend too much money or wait too long to fix the problem. This is understandable! Drainage problems and solutions are complex, but we’re here to help.
Read on to learn how to pinpoint the problem and effectively improve your yard’s drainage.
Identify the Problem
To find the right solution, you need to be able to identify the problem. The next time it rains or you water your lawn, see where the water pools. If it tends to collect near your yard’s hardscaping, such as concrete paths and patios, there may be an issue with your yard’s grading. Another way to identify issues with grading is to monitor where the water flows. If it doesn’t flow down and away from your home and instead collects in one area, your home may be improperly graded.
However, if water tends to collect near obstacles like flowerbeds, it may just be a matter of giving the water a path to flow in a different direction. Be sure to check your downspouts as well because if the mouth is shooting water in a dip of land or flat area, the mouths may need to be diverted. If none of these seem to be the issue, your soil may just be very compacted. Once you’ve identified the issue, you’ll be ready to tackle the problem. Below are the solutions to drainage issues.
Grade Your Yard
Pooling water, patches of dead grass, and standing water are all signs of improper grading. No matter where your home is located, your yard needs to be properly graded to allow water to flow down and away from your home. Ideally, you want the area around your home to be slightly sloped so gravity can do the work for you, which is known as positive grading. If the water is coming toward your home, this is known as a negative grade.
Sometimes, the solution is as simple as filling in a few pits in the land, and other times, an entire yard needs to be regraded. For larger projects, you should always consult a professional. If you do it incorrectly, you could make the problem worse, and you’ll have to spend more of your time and money to fix it.
Install a Dry Well, French Drain, or Channel Drain
If you want more long-term solutions that don’t involve having your yard regraded, you have three installation options: dry wells, French drains, or channel drains.
Dry wells can be put at low-point areas of your yard where water collects due to negative grading. These wells are dug-out pits filled with aggregate materials, lined with a perforated casing usually made of plastic, though they can be made with concrete. Water will collect in the sedimentation chamber through the grating, go into the dry well, and slowly leak into the surrounding soil. They should be deep enough and far enough away so they don’t freeze during the cold months or cause issues with your home’s foundation.
French drains are good for dispersing water in areas that can become too muddy or collect too much water. Traditionally, the pipes will be perforated and surrounded by gravel. The gravel will collect the water and act as a gutter system, redirecting the flow while allowing water to drain into the soil. You can leave the gravel open air or put vegetation on top so it blends into the property.
Channel drains are above ground with a grated cover that looks like gutters. They’re long, narrow trenches that allow water to move away from the home to a local sewer. Channel drains can be installed almost anywhere around your home and are commonly used in flat driveways. This option is best for homes that experience a lot of rain and runoff to the point where the soil can’t absorb the water.
As mentioned, sometimes the drainage issue is simple, such as a poorly placed downspout. Downspouts are connected to your gutters and direct the water away from your home, but sometimes they don’t do their job very well. Occasionally, the mouth of the spout isn’t far enough away from your home or directs water to an improperly graded area. In these cases, you can redirect or extend the downspout to release water into a different area of the yard. This way, the water can flow down and away from your home as it’s supposed to or flow to a portion of turf more suitable to absorb the excess water.
Aerate Your Yard
As you’ve likely already guessed, the soil in your yard does a lot of the heavy lifting and is a critical part of ensuring water doesn’t pool on your property. If water is collecting near a high-traffic area of your yard, your soil may be overly compacted. Luckily, this is the most straightforward problem to have in terms of fixing it. There are a few solutions you can choose from; you can use a spike aerator, a slicing aerator, or a core aerator to create holes in your yard that loosen soil and promote drainage.
A spike aerator is a tool with a tube of rotating spikes that you can push into the ground. There are even spike aerators that you can strap to your shoes so you can walk around and aerate your yard. Slicing aerators function similarly to pushable spike aerators but with large blades that create deeper and larger holes for better drainage. Core aerators also work the same but are sharp tubes rather than spikes or blades, and they puncture much deeper into the dirt. The more water pooling in your yard, the larger and deeper you want to holes to be.
Build a Rain Garden
Rain gardens are the most aesthetically pleasing way to solve your drainage problems, especially if you have flowerbeds blocking the waterflow. If you have a particularly muddy area where water likes to collect, you can plant a garden bed or replace the plants in a garden bed with water-loving flowers. While this alone won’t redirect all the water, it is a beautiful eco-friendly solution, and you can install overflow pipes to catch and redirect water your plants can’t.
While the types of plants in a rain garden will vary based on your area, you want to pick plants that are fibrous with thick, strong root systems. Black-eyed Susans, bee balm, coneflowers, rush, and little bluestem are all perennial plants that do very well in rain gardens. And fortunately, there are many more perennial rain garden plants to choose from if those don’t suit your style.
No matter the case, there are ways to effectively improve your yard drainage. And if you’re uncomfortable or unsure about DIY, Hernandez Lawnscape is here to help! We have experienced drainage contractors in the Baton Rouge, LA, area with the knowledge and experience to handle all your yard’s draining issues and solutions.