Tuesday, March 8, 2011
How to Fix Water Flow/Drainage Issues in Your Yard
That rainy spring weather lets you know that winter is on the way out and summer is on the way in. It also might let you know about issues with water flow and drainage in your yard. If you're dealing with standing water, puddles that won't go away, or little rivers in the wrong places, you need to deal with the problem. Leaving that water where it is can leave you with muddy areas that won't grow plants or grass. in summer, those spots of standing water will become breeding ground for insects.
Fix it now, and you won't have to worry about it when the temperature starts climbing.
First Things First
Before you run outside with a shovel, take some time to figure out what's causing the drainage issue. Do you have good drainage up to a point, and then a blockage? Is there not any clear drainage marked out in which to direct water flow? Are there low areas in your yard that are acting as water basins?
Strategies for Fixing Water Flow Problems
1. Fill the low areas.
One of the simplest and easiest fixes, bringing in soil, sand, gravel, sawdust, or other organic matter to fill up low areas can be enough to eliminate puddles and standing water. Be sure you bring in enough fill; some will wash away, and the rest will settle as time goes by, which can leave you with a slightly higher area still holding water. Pack down the material you use and fill enough that you have a bit of a rise; as the material settles, the area will flatten out.
2. Clean out blockage.
If you have an otherwise flowing pathway for water, follow it to the blockage and you can eliminate the source of the water problem. Often roots, rocks, branches, or debris can simply pile up in unseen areas and then cause the water flow to back up and spread out into nearby low-lying areas. Clean out the most direct drainage path and see if that fixes the problem.
3. Redirect the water.
Water is going to automatically flow from high ground to low ground via the path of least resistance. If you're stepping into a river across your front yard or sidewalk, the answer is to create an easier path for water to follow so it doesn't end up in your walk way. You can do so by noting where the water originates (the highest nearby point) and digging a trench from that point, along the line you want the water to follow to the lowest point, drain, or ditch. Digging by hand (shovel) is time-consuming but if you're only a short bit to do, can definitely be done in an afternoon or so. Consider renting out the Dingo with the trencher attachment if you want to save your time and back muscles, or if the trench needs to extend more than a few feet in length.
4. Install a French drain.
For low-lying areas that can't be fixed by adding fill of some kind (too large, bottom of the hill), you might consider installing a French drain. A French drain is simply a hole or trench dug into the low-lying area; dig it several feet deep in the place where water normally collects. Lay down a layer of landscaper's fabric, then a thick layer of gravel. Cover it with soil and mulch or seed the area to keep it from staying muddy. Water that normally collects will have a thick layer of gravel to drain into at the natural collection point.