If you dread both summer thundershowers and winter snowstorms for their ability to transform your lawn into a muddy swamp, you may be suffering from inadequate lawn drainage. In some cases, your lawn may never have been equipped with a drainage system or graded to ensure proper water runoff. And because topography changes over time, your home may have even been designed with an adequate lawn drainage system that has flattened or become crater-shaped with use. What can you do to improve the drainage of your lawn without completely starting from scratch? Read on for several ways you can eliminate your yard's ability to retain water.
What is causing your lawn to hold water?
There are several factors that may cause your lawn to retain water, and correctly identifying the factors at work in your lawn is key to fixing the issue permanently.
The first factors are topographical. Certain low-lying areas of your lawn may be below your local water table, meaning that the ground becomes saturated as soon as it begins raining. This can cause problems with your plumbing and your home's foundation, since water pressure from the lawn can decrease the pressure in your pipes, and constant water exposure on the concrete or stone of your foundation can cause it to prematurely erode.
Even if your lawn is above the water table, you may be down-stream from properties on higher ground that naturally drain into your lawn. This means that any amount of rain you get is multiplied as the runoff (including animal droppings, lawn chemicals, and other debris) flows down into your yard.
A final factor in water-retaining lawns is the composition of your soil. In areas with very thick, clay-based soil, there may not be enough open space between clay particles for your surface water to fully drain. This can lead to uneven sod (as water flows through the areas it can access, creating rivets) and a perpetually muddy lawn.
What should you do to correct your drainage problems?
There are a few things you can do to help improve or correct the drainage of your lawn. Once you've identified the cause (or causes) of your drainage problems, the solutions are relatively simple.
If you're dealing with topographical issues:
For homes below the water table, installing drainage pipes is often the easiest and most effective solution. These pipes will drain into your sewer or into an exterior ditch or culvert, helping eliminate standing water from your lawn and routing it to its ideal destination. This solution can also be accomplished with a minimum of disruption or destruction of your lawn, helping you keep your existing sod and landscaping.
Once you've had drainage pipes installed, it's important to check these drains periodically to ensure they're clear and free from debris or leaves. If these drains become blocked, your lawn will quickly begin retaining water again, and this may come as a biological shock to grass and soil that had become accustomed to normal draining.
For homes that receive runoff from other homes, you may be able to partner with your neighbors to install gutters, downspouts, or other drainage devices to help route this water toward drainage avenues and away from your lawn. If your neighbor's runoff is causing severe problems with your own yard, you may even be able to file an injunction to force your neighbor to correct these problems at his or her own expense.
When these efforts fail, a final option may be to construct a physical barrier between your property and the adjacent property causing your issues. Often, a thick mound of soil or a retaining wall will encourage water to drain around the blockage, creating its own shallow ditches and avoiding the rest of your lawn.
If you're dealing with soil issues:
Because it's nearly impossible to render thick clay soil into a type of soil that drains water well, an easier task is to install drainage pipes and/or gutters near the parts of your lawn that need it most. If you have a specific area that tends to hold water, concentrating your drainage efforts on this area will yield the best results.
If you'd like to have higher-quality soil for gardening or lawn care purposes, and have a relatively small lawn, you may want to have topsoil tilled into your lawn and a type of water-friendly sod planted. This new soil and grass will help improve your lawn's drainage and appearance, and this sod should be better suited for an extra-moist lawn.
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7 July 2015
When my husband and I bought our house years ago, we thought it would be our "starter" home and we would move in a few years. We soon had two children, and we then decided against moving since we live in a great school district and we love our neighbors. However, I was growing very tired of the appearance of our home. We painted it a different color, and it still seemed like the "same old house" that we were tired of. We finally deciding that maybe good landscaping would "do the trick" and make our home more enjoyable to use again. We were right, and I now love our home! I now love spending time in our yard and just enjoying the scenery. I have such a passion for landscaping now I decided to create a blog about it. I plan to share many landscaping tips, so come back!