Good Drainage Is Important To A Healthy Landscape

Good drainage is the cornerstone of lasting gardens and patios. Without it, prized paving can be damaged and precious plants can drown by a sea of water caused by poor drainage.

Most drainage problems can be prevented by proper grading," Whenever a new structure is built on a piece of land, that ground's ability to absorb runoff is greatly reduced. The excavating, filling and leveling during the construction process alters the ground's contours, reducing the proper drainage even more.

Keep a close watch on how and where water collects and drains away in your yard! If a problem does emerge, try solving it by correcting the grade - sometimes it's as simple as leveling humps, filling depressions, and smoothing out the ground to provide a gentle slope (all horizontal surfaces, with the possible exception of decks, should be sloped about 1/4 inch per foot) and a swale or wide ditch to carry the excess water from all structures and into the street.

We rent grading and excavating equipment that will save you from sore muscles and blisters, as well as wasting lots of time.

But grading doesn't solve all drainage problems. There are six ways to improve drainage effectively because they slow down the speed of surface water runoff or provide a channel to direct the water elsewhere. Though most are designed for major drainage problems, the same techniques will work for homeowners on a smaller scale.

Baffle: Railroad ties or large pieces of lumber placed across a slope, set partly in the ground, Will help reduce runoff. Start with a few baffles and watch the results. Add more baffles until runoff is controlled.

Terrace: To slow runoff on a slope, try building a series of low walls made of wood, masonry or stone. Work from the bottom of the slope, building each wall and filling with dirt or gravel behind it. Set a 1-foot terrace approximately 2-feet in the ground.

Riprap: Cover a slope with stones at least 6 inches in diameter to slow runoff. Embed half the diameter of each stone into the ground. The steeper the slope, the closer the stones should be placed together.

Intercepting Ditches: On a sloping lot, lay perforated pipe or drain tile in gravel-filled trench, about 1-foot square, to collect water at the bottom of a slope or off a roof, to carry excess water away. Be sure the ditches slope away from the house.

Dry Wells: To dispose of water that can't be drained off, dig a dry well down to gravel or sandy soil. Be sure to stay above the water table. Fill the hole with course gravel, install a drainpipe to lead water into it, and cap.

Catch Basin: To drain water from low-lying areas, build a catch basin at the lowest point where the water collects. Basins should be approximately 4-6 feet deep x 2-feet wide, and built with either brick or concrete. Run a pipe from the sloped bottom of basin to disposal area, such as a street or storm drain. Cover the top of the basin with top soil.