Keeping your property safe requires a drainage system that manages surface water and water that finds its way below the surface.
Most municipalities have guidelines for this. That’s the place to start for new construction and renovation projects. You’ll discover that your property must comply with community guidelines that protect your rights as well as those of your neighbors.
Understanding the big picture will help you solve any drainage problems you may be having. For example, if your current systems are unable to excessive moisture, you first want to be sure you are taking on water that it is not designed to handle.
Fortunately, most drainage problems are cosmetic. They are very likely the result of natural settling or site work that has slightly impacted the smooth flow of water to its intended destination. That may be into a municipal drainage system, a lake or stream, or a similar collecting area.
Why Proper Drainage Is Important
The prolonged effects of accumulated water or moisture can be destructive to foundations, hardscapes, and plantings. A good drainage system can protect the investment you’ve made in your property.
If you pay attention to immediate drainage problems you can prevent them from developing into larger ones. Water that collects for a few hours isn’t going to do much harm, maybe a little. Take notice of these situations and take action to fix the drainage problem forever.
Here are examples of the most effective drainage measures. Some may require hiring a professional landscaping company that has access to specialized materials and equipment.
#1. Inspect and Repair Defective Gutters and Downspouts
Most residential homes have drainage systems that efficiently collect water from the structure and direct it to its destination away from the home.
Gutters that are clogged should be cleared of debris so they flow properly. Be sure they are properly attached to the home and are not cracked or out of alignment.
Sometimes it’s necessary to have new gutters installed to achieve the proper flow. Professional installers will get the right pitch, which is nearly impossible to achieve with damaged gutters.
Also, be sure the downspouts are properly connected and flowing well too, ensuring they have no kinks or obstructions. It may be necessary to reattach the bands to secure them to the home.
The most common problem is damage to the downspouts that direct the water away from the home. This is often best remedied with corrugated or PVC drain tile that is buried to prevent it from foot traffic damage.
#2. Install Drain Tile Extensions
Drain tiling has been used for agriculture in the United States since 1838. It’s still quite common for farmers to unearth remnants of these clay tiles.
The more resilient, modern-day replacement for clay tiles are polymer materials, either flexible or rigid.
Homeowners can find these corrugated plastic drain tiles at most home-supply or hardware stores, along with the necessary connectors to joining pieces or connecting them to downspouts and drains.
These perforated drain tiles are often set into a bed of gravel. The gravel prohibits the infiltration of sediment and helps to encourage drainage from the tile in the surrounding soil.
If your soil is particularly sandy or loamy, you may wish to acquire tile with a sock. This is a fabric cover that securely protects sediment from collecting inside the tile.
#3. Build a Natural Dry Creek Bed
Dry creek beds serve several purposes. More often than not they are a design element first and a drainage element second.
Well-designed creekbeds add visual movement to landscapes. They move the eye through the site toward focal points and away from undesirable views.
Of course, it makes sense that this visual flow should also traverse the natural slope where water flows. The flat, smooth stones in the creek bed help to accelerate that flow of water, while also eliminating the potential for washed-out areas.
If your property tends to carry a lot of water from one side to the other, a dry creek bed is an ideal solution for turning a negative into a positive.
You can further enhance this feature with low-voltage landscape lighting and grasses and sedges normally found in these areas.
#4. Incorporate a Functional Rain Garden
Rain gardens are gathering areas for water. Unlike the similar-looking dry creek beds that are move water through a property, rain gardens are destinations for water.
Water-loving plants, benches, boulders, and garden art are all ways to enhance water gardens. The reason for this is rain gardens are in fact water features. The only difference from more traditional ones is their characters change with the weather.
Because rain gardens have to work well in wet and dry conditions, you may wish to consult with a landscape professional to get help with choosing the right plants. Native grasses and sedges are durable favorites, but colorful, long-blooming daylilies and irises will work well too.
#5. Add a French Drain or Combine It With a Dry Well
Farm drainage was revolutionized in 1860 by Henry French in his book “Farm Drainage: The Principles, Processes, and Effects of Draining Land with Stones, Wood, Plows, and Open Ditches, and Especially With Tiles.” The effect of this book was so profound that advanced drain tile systems came to be known as French drains, after Henry French.
For residential properties, a French drain often involves setting drain tile into a trench filled with gravel. Yet, it more commonly is constructed with gravel that collects water below the surface where it can slowly drain into the soil.
If the volume of water to manage is substantial, that French drain should be connected to a dry well. The dry well is a large, typically cylindrical or block-shaped hole filled with gravel or rip-rap.
For a French drain and dry well to work best, you should attempt to calculate the volume of water that needs to be managed for an average storm. Then add 15-20% capacity to that number.
This type of project may require the help of professionals to get the calculations right. Additionally, it will likely require a backhoe or similar piece of equipment to effectively dig the trench for the French drain and basin for the dry well.
Get Help from the Pros
Architectural Landscape Design can help you design and build drainage systems that protect your landscaping investment. We have the experience and knowledge to create custom solutions for most properties. And we offer a free initial consultation to help you determine if we are a good fit for your project.