Homeowners are often plagued with problems from yards that do not drain properly, especially during heavy rainfall. Read on to learn about residential landscape drainage solutions.
Common Problems From Poor Drainage
How to stop my home from flooding is a common landscape drainage question in Atlanta. Atlanta area homeowners are no strangers to heavy rains and the common flooding issues it brings. These issues range from flooding in homes, garages, out-buildings and yards with perpetual wet areas. The resulting problems range from inconvenient to financial losses.
Poor landscape drainage can cause water pooling in your yard, home damage due to flooding, foundation problems, and concrete covered with mold or mildew. A flooded yard can cause your expensive landscape plants to die, provide breeding grounds for mosquitos, and make parts of your yard virtually unusable.
If you’re living with too much water when it rains, it may be time to think about landscape drainage solutions for your property.
Understand Your Property’s Unique Flood Risk
If the flooding problem is generally limited to your home, or just a few in the neigborhood, you can probably find a solution. Regardless of the cause, you should consult your insurance to see what coverage you have for flood damage.
If you live in an area that is prone to widespread flooding you may have to consider a situation beyond your control. If you’re unsure about the area you my want to read information provided the Reduce Flood Rick website. The website offers this information, “To learn more about what mitigation actions you may want to consider to lower the risk of flooding, visit Reduce Flood Risk. Using this Reduce Flood Risk Tool, you will answer a series of five questions, and receive a detailed list of mitigation options recommended to reduce flood risk.”1
Assessment & Planning Drainage
What is the cause of the water problem? The simple answer is your yard cannot absorb or transfer away rainwater as quickly as it accumulates. The primary causes are clay soil which absorbs very little water, and yards that lack slopes that direct flow.
Flooding issues due to excessive run-off of rain water can be especially troubling. Besides direct rainfall, runoff from adjacent yards can greatly increase the water problems you experience. The solution is finding a way to control the flow of water and find a suitable direction for discharge.
The FEMA website offers some great information on preventing home flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has prepared a guide specifically for homeowners who want to know how to help protect their homes from flooding. The FEMA website describes the Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting in this manner, “This guide gives you both, in a form designed for readers who have little or no experience with flood protection methods or building construction techniques”2
Random Low Spots
Low spots often become areas that are constantly wet. This is especially true if the area has deep shade that slows evaporation. The solution is generally found in filling low spots with screened top soil, and changing the contour of your yard.
Most landscape supply companies have a minimum order size for delivery. You will need to determine how much fill-dirt you need. You need to identify a suitable area for a dump truck to be able to access and unload the dirt.
From there, most people spend many weekends moving the dirt from a pile in their driveway to the affected low spot. If you’re not up for a lot of hard manual labor, you may want to call a professional landscape company with skilled crews to do the heavy work.
When land is not graded properly, or the slope has changed due to erosion, water can’t drain from the yard effectively. A common solution is to regrade your yard to change the path of the runoff. This usually requires a lot of planning to find the high and low points of your yard and figure out what point is the level grade line. You will want to grade your yard so that the water runs away from your house.
With regards to the slope of your yard, the University of Nebraska ‘s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources website states, “Have a 5-10% slope away from the home or about 1 inch per foot for a minimum of 10 feet. This will help reduce foundation leakage. Continue to slope away from the house to drain the water.”3
Builders typically give very little, if any, concern to investing time and money to finesse the contour of a yard. They generally work a relatively smooth surface and cover it with sod. They often don’t really think about drainage or aestehtic sculpting.
For yards with chronic flooding problems the solution is to have a landscaping contractor add and reposition dirt, and install fresh sod or reseed for fescue lawns. Yes, it is a lot of work and your yard will look rough for a season, but your flooding problems will be resolved. Within a season or two your lawn can regrow and be better than ever.
Landscape Drainage Systems
A landscape drainage contractor can quickly assess the situation and provide all of the materials and labor to do the job. A job that could take you many weekends to complete could be knocked out much more quickly with an experienced landscape crew.
A popular solution to handle excess water causing yard drainage problems is to install a French drain. A French drain consists of a trench with a perforated drain pipe and gravel to disperse the water. From the outside it looks like a nice hardscaping element, but it is designed to move water away from your house and keep water from pooling up.
Gutter Downspouts and Leaders
A downspout, or leader, is connected to your gutters and runs water from the gutters, down the side of your house, to the ground. If the water is pooling from your gutters too close to your house, you may be able to correct the problem by extending your downspouts. From there you can install a catch basin at the end of every downspout. Water will drain into the catch basin and be carried away through buried pvc pipes.
Maybe You Should Just Go with It
Creating a Rain Garden in the low spots and muddy areas effectively means going with landscaping plants that thrive in wet areas. While it won’t alleviate mosquito problems, it is a way of making use of the otherwise problematic space.
A rain garden usually consists of deep-rooted flowers and grasses which will help absorb excess rain in your yard. They are often planted on a natural slope or the low part of the yard. The existing soil may be replaced or mixed with 6-12 inches of a more absorbent variety such as sand or loam. Using native plants will encourage deep roots that absorb more water and need less maintenance as the years go by. This can be used with some of the other methods above, for example using the French drain or downspouts to redirect the water into an aesthetically pleasing rain garden.
Irrigation & Drainage installations greatly improve your lawn
If you need help with residential yard drainage solutions, we invite you to call us at 770-509-0355 to schedule a free consultation.
- 1 Staff Writers, “Reduce Your Flood Risk”, May 13, 2022, Available from Reduce Flood Risk
- 2 Fema Staff, “Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting”, June 7, 2014, Available from FEMA
- 3 Shirley Niemeyer, “Simple Steps Can Prevent Water and Flood Damage in Homes”, June 27, 2008, Available from University of Nebraska
- Photo by Nicky, available at Pixabay