Even though drainage may not be the first thing that comes to mind as your next stunning landscape improvement, perhaps it should be. With an average of 36 inches of rain per year in the Portland area, all that water needs to go somewhere! If you’re lucky, your yard has quick-draining soil with perfect slopes and excess water is not a problem. But since we live in the Pacific Northwest, that is probably not the case.
Poor drainage is a common landscaping issue that can jeopardize the health of your lawn, garden, and even home, plus it prevents you from enjoying your outdoor space! Some typical problems that can result from oversaturated landscapes are erosion, compaction, and root rot. Excess standing water can also cause damage to your home’s foundation, allowing moisture to seep inside. Luckily, there are many solutions to drainage problems, and you’re sure to find one that works well for your particular issue.
Lawn Drainage Tips
If you notice standing water in your lawn after a heavy rain or if your lawn is soggy and water squeezes up with each step, you have drainage issues. This can be a major cause of grass thinning and dying out in the fall and winter, and early spring months. Lawn drainage problems can also create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and crane fly larvae, which can decimate a lawn in just a few weeks—these issues should be addressed immediately.
Soil can only hold and absorb a certain amount of water. To keep your yard from staying soggy, it’s best to slope, divert, and aerate. Ideally, your yard should have a gradual slope away from your house, and gutters and drainage systems should be used to divert water from your roof and prevent it from accumulating in the yard.
It’s also important to aerate your lawn in spring and fall to help keep your grass healthy and your yard dry. Power core aeration removes thousands of small cores of soil 1-3 inches long—the plugs are left on the lawn to break down after a few rainfalls. Benefits of core aeration:
- Allows water to penetrate through the soil layers, preventing pooling
- Allows air to permeate the soil to introduce vital oxygen
- Stimulates healthy root growth by creating pockets for new roots and allowing water and oxygen to migrate into the root zone
- Improves effectiveness of fertilizers by clearing the way for fertilizer to reach the root zone
- Improves soil structure, helps control thatch, and provides a better environment for overseeding
Another way to mitigate poor lawn drainage is to rethink the areas where your lawn isn’t thriving. Remove that section of the lawn to make way for a new seating area, planting beds, raised garden beds, or even a water feature. Add intentionality to your space while saving your soil and surrounding lawn from further damage by installing a path with stepping stones or steel edging and gravel through high-traffic areas.
Types of Drains & Other Drainage Solutions
French Drain: a trench containing a 3-inch perforated pipe, filter fabric, and drain rock; captures surface runoff along long runs of lawn, beds, or hardscape edges and is used to redirect runoff to another location on the property or to an additional drainage system
Channel Drain: a 2 to 4-inch PVC channel set in concrete with a hard plastic or cast-iron surface grate; ideal for paver or concrete driveways, patios, and pool decks that contain a valley where water needs to be collected and redirected to another location or into the stormwater management system
Dry Creek Bed: a decorative and functional landscape feature—a meandering swath of large river rock and accent boulders built to resemble a natural creek bed containing a 3 to 4-inch perforated pipe and filter fabric in a valley at the base; captures surface runoff along long runs of lawn, beds, or hardscape edges and is used to redirect runoff to another location on the property or to an additional drainage system
Rain Garden: a decorative and functional landscape feature consisting of a deep recessed area with a system of gravel and specific filtration plants that thrive in wet conditions; if drainage cannot be moved off site, a rain garden is an effective way to capture it on your own property where it’s collected and filtered by the plant material and gravel before eventually percolating back into the ground water
Catch Basin: a round or square hard plastic reservoir with a grate usually 6–12 inches wide; ideal for troublesome low spots around hardscapes, lawn, or beds where surface areas slope to a single point—drainage is captured here and redirected to another property location or drainage system
Dry Well: a buried hard plastic drainage chamber or large hole filled with drain rock; when redirecting drainage away from a problem area is difficult, a dry well can be installed within the property providing a place to accept redirected drainage—water will fill the dry well before eventually percolating back into the ground water
Subsurface Grid Drain: a grid network of trenches and perforated pipe backfilled with a drainage medium of coarse gravel or sand; for flat lawn areas that have trouble shedding surface water due to their lack of almost any slope—allows water to drain vertically where it’s captured and redirected to another property location or drainage system
Mild erosion or runoff can also be prevented by planting groundcovers and spreading plants that help to hold the soil in place as well as add some color to the landscape!
Get in touch with a Dennis’ 7 Dees landscape professional to assess your drainage problems and let us install a customized system to help control and direct the flow of unwanted water. Think of drainage as an insurance plan to help protect your landscape and home.