Signs of Yard Drainage Problems
Most of us go through life not looking for problems. Gardeners, in particular, have a sunny disposition. However, sometimes problems crop up in even the most well-kept yards. Drainage problems are just one of many examples, and it is one of the biggest problems a yard-owner can encounter. Soggy foundations crack patios and walkways. Water that sits in the ground around the roots of plants causes root rot, and stagnant puddles attract mosquitoes, making a potentially beautiful yard unhealthy. In order to keep excess water from causing damage, you have to spot and fix yard drainage problems early. Here are some warning signs to keep a look out for.
The most obvious sign is areas of the yard that are chronically soggy and spongy to the touch. There will be many reasons why some spots in your yard will retain water more than others. The culprit might be the type of soil, or the lay of the land. In either case, puddles will stay in your yard for days after it rains, and might never really dry completely.
Top Soil That Is On The Move
Water that doesn’t go in to the ground winds up washing over the ground. This pushes your mulch, top soil, silt and bark in piles and gulleys. It may plaster your walkway with a pattern of silt, and it will probably bunch up mulch at the lowest point of your yard. Not only does this interfere with the design of the garden, but it indicates just how far the water goes when it is on the rise.
Excess water causes soil to develop fissures and drop away. It might even cause holes to suddenly appear in your yard. (Probably you won’t get what is technically called a sink hole, but the yard can definitely become pitted.) Whatever the extent of erosion, it can imperil foundations, raised garden beds, and any decorative ponds or statuary you might have.
Ponds Developing Under Downspouts and Gutters
This is a particularly bad sign. If water is collecting and staying right under your downspout or gutter, it is leaking under your house and undermining the foundation. It will wear away dirt that is protecting the concrete of your basement and generally expose more wall than is good for the house. The problem here may be clogged gutters or undersized downspouts, but water should be directed away from the house anyway.
When you first get a house and consider landscaping, it is a good idea to check for the prerequisites for drainage problems. Look for hard clay soils; they won’t drain well and won’t be much good for growing things. You will also want to look at the topography of your yard. If there are low spots, where the ground dips down, water will collect there. You might need a topographical map, as even seemingly flat yards can have dips in it. Check for a high water-table, too. It is tempting to think that you are safe from that if you are on a hill, but groundwater can get caught in pockets well above sea-level by pooling on impermeable rock. If you spot these problems before the rainy season, you have a head start on the solution and won’t have to suffer any consequences. If you didn’t notice the problem until a storm hit and opened your eyes, don’t fret. There is still time to fix the yard before the extra water does any damage to your property.
Causes of Yard Drainage Problems
A High Water Table
Yards that lie in low areas can easily suffer from a high water table, making it hard to landscape. Because plant roots don’t get enough oxygen in saturated soil during their growing season, they rot much like houseplants that are overly watered. Some ways to resolve this issue include these options:
- Use plants in your landscape that are naturally acclimated to a high water landscape such as fens and bogs. For trees, plant those species that come from similar wetlands. Use wet sun plants for a sunny yard, but if you have a shady yard, choose wet shade plants.
- Elevate planting areas. Although this can be expensive, it works. If you’re wondering how high you need to raise the soil, it depends on what you want to plant. For example, large shrubs or trees require a considerably greater height so that the root crown is high enough to keep it dry. On the other hand, smaller shrubs don’t require as much height. As a result, the cost is less expensive.
Yards that have clay soil can easily have drainage problems. In fact, clay soil is the cause of most minor yard drainage problems. Because soil that’s rich in clay has more density than loamy or sandy soil, rainwater doesn’t filter through it as quickly. To solve this condition, consider these options:
- Growing plants that prefer soils that are rich in clay can gradually change the nature of clay soil. However, this can take a long time.
- Adding things that can make your soil more permeable and richer is another option. You can do this either chemically or naturally. The chemical approach can entail adding limestone and gypsum to break up the clay, while the natural method is adding organic matter that’s mixed into the soil to enrich it, as well as help in plant growth. The organic way is better because it doesn’t take as long to work.
- Creating an underground “soakway” for water to filter down slowly.
Creating an underground drain is another option for solving a yard drainage issue. The type of underground drain that is typically used is called a “French Drain.” This is basically a ditch that contains a drain covered gravel. Besides using an underground drain for a compacted soil problem, you can also use it for soil that has hard sub-layers.
Lack of Rain Barrels
In addition to dealing with rainwater falling directly in a yard, sometimes yards also get inundated by rainwater from nearby structures. By attaching rain barrels to downspouts, you can collect rainwater that would otherwise gush into a yard. Why not save the rainwater and use it for irrigating your lawn. You don’t have to settle for poor yard drainage. Solving this problem can be frustrating and isn’t a job for the average homeowner.
Just contact us, and we will provide you with the drainage solution. We’ve been experts on providing the right drains for any type of yard since 1960.
We answer phones Monday-Friday 8-5. If you have questions, please call (301) 656-6414.
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7201 Brookville Road
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
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