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Three Simple Fixes to Solve Drainage Issues

Posted on April 12, 2022 
by Thomas VanAmerongen

Poor drainage can saturate your yard, making it almost impossible to build on — and if the problem is close to your home, water can damage its foundation. We had a client with a drainage problem so bad that every time it rained, water would come running into his shop…

There are many things that can cause drainage issues, such as heavy clay soil, poor grading and even landscape features that disrupt the natural flow of water.

If you have drainage issues on your property, don’t worry… there are some simple things you can do about it.

Grading backyard.

1. Fix the grade

It was quite apparent that the grade around our client’s property wasn’t correct, so instead of flowing away from his property, it flowed towards it.

If your property’s grade (slope) isn’t sufficient to allow water to drain away from your house, it’s a relatively easy thing to fix.

  • If the area around your home is landscaped, the first step is to remove any plants (make sure to grab the whole root ball) and grass and put them aside to replant later. Go about 6 to 10 feet away from the house.
  • Fill the area in with enough loose soil to raise the grade, then pack it down with a roller (or stomp it down with your foot). Be sure to leave at least six inches of the foundation showing, as dirt and plant matter can damage siding and wood.
  • Once you have a grade of around 5% (a six-inch difference over 10 feet), it’s time to replace the sod and plants.

If a flat or depressed area is causing your drainage issues, you might have to remove some soil to improve the grade and fill in the depressions.

Simple fix… but pretty labour-intensive. We can help with this!

Permeable pavers front entrance.

2. Install permeable pavers

The problem our client had was a bit more difficult… in his case, it wasn’t possible to improve the grade without tearing up his asphalt driveway (something he obviously wasn’t willing to do). We put our heads together and came up with a solution: install permeable pavers in front of his shop.

If you have a wet area on your property and want a beautiful and functional solution, permeable pavers are the way to go. Because of how they’re constructed, they act like a sponge, soaking up the water and allowing it to be slowly absorbed instead of running off paved surfaces or standing in puddles.

It takes quite a bit of excavating (there are three layers of gravel beneath the pavers), but the results are well worth it — besides helping solve drainage issues, they can also be used on hills and slopes to help retain the soil and prevent erosion.

And if you use permeable pavers on your driveway, the air that gets trapped in the pavers stores heat, which helps melt snow and ice in the winter, so you’ll use less salt.

It was the perfect solution for our client, too. He’s no longer afraid a large rain event will damage his shop because the excess water dissipates between the pavers and disappears into the ground… never even reaching his shop!

This can take some serious digging and really isn’t a DIY project (unless you’re talking about a really small area). We have all the excavation equipment that’s needed to get the job done, so you can leave it to us!

Rain garden front yard.

3. What’s a rain garden?

If your drainage problem isn’t the result of water sheeting off your driveway, but it’s still not possible to fix the grade (or it’s another issue, like compacted soil), installing a rain garden is a beautiful and practical solution.

A rain garden is not the same as a water garden, pond or wetland. It actually stays dry most of the time and is meant to soak up excess runoff. The water collects in the rain garden and is slowly absorbed into the ground and by thirsty native plants that don’t mind getting their feet wet, like cardinal flower, coneflower and Joe Pye weed.

  • Dig out the soil in a low spot in your yard where you want your rain garden to be. Six to twelve inches should be enough.
  • Amend the soil with compost and sand to increase water infiltration. How much you use depends on the type of soil you already have, so it’s a good idea to get a soil sample done first.
  • Create a berm (mound of dirt) and use a swale (shallow “ditch,” often covered with decorative river rock) and/or tiles (see above) to direct water toward the rain garden. If the grade slopes naturally to this spot, skip this step.
  • Plant a variety of native plants that are tolerant of wet conditions.

After the plants are established, the native plants need little fertilizer or maintenance other than weeding (mulching can help here), deadheading and occasionally dividing perennials.

Again, not super-complicated… just a lot of work! (We can help with this, too!)

Do you have drainage issues?

At Raymar Landscapes, we love water (check out all our water features!), but only if it behaves and goes where we want it to go… not messing up your yard or threatening your home’s foundation!

So, if you have a soggy area that concerns you (and you don’t want to DIY), get in touch. We’ll help create a plan to solve the issue and do all the hard work for you — just as we did for our very grateful shop owner.