How to Plan Landscape Drainage


Landscaping a residential property requires careful consideration of the types of plants and their requirements, as well as the natural features of the landscape itself. How water flows over the ground and where it settles are crucial elements for the health of landscape plants. Drainage problems can also affect the structural integrity of your home. Familiarizing yourself with the many types of methods available will prepare you for knowing to landscape troublesome drainage problems to protect your housing investment.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test
  • Soil
  • Shovel
  • PVC pipe
  • Gravel
  • Stone or brick
  • Mortar
  • Notepaper
  • Pen
  • Gutter extensions
  • Perform a soil test on the soil in question to determine how much permeability it has. A soil test will tell you what type of soil you have and how much water it will hold.

  • Walk the property after a heavy rainfall to determine how the water flows over the ground and areas where the water pools. Make notes on problem areas where additional drainage is needed. Draw a model of high and low elevation areas on the property.

  • Improve the drainage capability of clay soils by adding absorptive topsoil, compost or sand.

  • Grade uneven areas of the property to provide a more level surface so that rainwater can run more easily into city sewers.

  • Install gutter extensions to carry rainwater from your roof to an area away from the house is a good way to provide better drainage around foundations.

  • Dig a small trench to drain small amounts of collected rainwater from the property.

  • Construct a French drain made of PVC pipe and covered with gravel to take care of larger amounts of standing water flowing from properties above you on higher ground, according to AskTheBuilder author Tim Carter.

  • Excavate a small pond for small areas of lawn where a high water table causes pooling in rainy seasons, according to Oregon State University author Bob Rost.

  • Build retaining walls to hold large amounts of soil and landscape plants in elevated areas on the property. Ensure that water can drain along these walls to city sewer lines.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your local agricultural extension service can assist you with soil testing to determine adequate permeability.
  • Remember that water flows in the path of least resistance. Create barriers in areas where you want water flow limited and construct methods for water to flow easily away from areas you wish to remain dryer.
  • Using existing materials in rocky areas of the country will help to save money on landscape drainage costs.
  • When diverting water flow, avoid directing the water to neighbors' properties. This will create flooding problems on their lots.
  • Consult with your local building codes concerning directing exceed water flow into sewers.

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