5 Landscaping Design Tips to Prevent Drainage Issues

March 26, 2021

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Flooded backyard

Water is essential for gardens, but it can wreak havoc if it outstays its welcome because of landscaping drainage problems. Poor garden drainage makes it tough for plants to survive and can threaten your home’s structural integrity. The key to avoiding garden landscape drainage problems is with well-thought-out drainage plans.

5 Quick Tips to Improve Landscape Drainage

  • Level a sloping lawn and garden
  • Add drainage areas near driveways and footpaths.
  • Improve soil permeability.
  • Clean and check drainage pipes.
  • Divert downspouts away from your garden.

How to Improve Landscape Water Drainage?


Level a Sloping Lawn and Garden

If possible, you should ideally level a sloping lawn and garden. If the ground slopes away from the home, then water is redirected and does not pool up near your property.

Include Drainage Near Driveways and Footpaths

Drainage near driveways and footpaths will help to prevent water from pooling up and damaging these structures.

Improve Soil Permeability

Improve soil permeability by digging in organic matter, which allows water to drain through while absorbing essential moisture.

Divert Downspouts Away From Your Garden

One way to do this is with a downspout extender and elbow corner pipe. A professional landscape drainage expert will be able to help you determine the best solution.

Clean and Check Drainage Pipes

Drainage pipes that get blocked or cracked can result in water clogging in your garden. If they are not cleaned and checked regularly, any cracks will cause water to leak out and seep into your property’s foundations.

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Downspout next to property

Threats of Poor Landscape Drainage

Water is an erosive agent that can wear away the hardest rocks and minerals. It can do the same to your home. Foundations that are regularly exposed to large amounts of stormwater can become severely damaged and, in extreme cases, irreparable. When foundations are damaged, the knock-on effects to the structures they support can be serious. Cracks can appear on interior and exterior walls, and the home can lean and sink into the ground.

Soil erosion caused by excess water can also threaten foundations and other structures such as patios and walkways. In addition to causing structural damage, stormwater drainage problems lead to overwatering, putting plants at risk of root diseases and fungal pathogens down the track.

What Causes Poor Garden Drainage?

Poor drainage is a problem in many gardens and yards. Among the common causes are:

  • Improper grading – the slope of the ground should encourage water to drain away from the foundations. However, at the time of your home's construction, this may not have been done.
  • Soil type – heavy clay soils tend to hold onto water for a long time. When wet, clay soils become heavy and sticky, and water doesn't easily pass through.
  • Plant beds – haphazardly installed plant beds can impede the natural flow of water, which stops it from draining away.
  • Water traps – depressions in your garden can trap water, creating soggy areas.
  • Gutter problems – the absence of gutters or broken gutters can lead to excess water being dumped on your garden.
  • Blocked drainage pipes – sediment and grime build up on drainage pipe walls impeding water flow.
  • High water table – the level of natural water beneath your garden is high.
  • Neighbors – a neighbor’s drainage system could be diverting water into your garden.
  • Paved surfaces – driveways, patios and other impermeable surfaces interfere with water drainage.

How to Spot Signs of Poor Landscape Damage?

To preserve your garden and property, try to identify problems quickly so they can be fixed before they get worse. Here are some warning signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Pooling or standing water after rain
  • Your crawlspace has puddles or soggy areas
  • Some of the soil is eroding away
  • Ponds are developing under gutters
  • Floorboards in your home are warping
  • Plants have stunted growth
  • Presence of moss (unless you've planted it purposely)
  • Soils that are damp for long periods develop an unpleasant odor because of the presence of anaerobic bacteria. So, follow your nose.

You could also perform a simple test to see how well your garden drains. Dig a hole that's 12 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep and fill it with water. If the soil is draining well, the water should be gone in about two to three hours.

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Garden Drainage

Importance of a Good Drainage Plan

Stormwater drainage should be part of your landscape design to minimize any risk to your property. Without effective drainage, you're setting yourself up for major and expensive problems down the line. As climate change is bringing heavier rains and more flooding, proper drainage has never been more important.

A drainage plan can involve digging draining ditches, installing stormwater drainage tanks, ensuring retaining walls drain effectively and land is properly graded. Whatever is in your plan, be sure to check that everything is compliant with local regulations.

You don't have control over when it rains or how water is dumped on your garden, but there are things you can do to limit the impact. To avoid and resolve problems recurring, find qualified professionals who understand drainage and have the solutions you need. Any mistake could result in flooding and structural damage that costs thousands of dollars to fix. The last thing you want is for your beautiful garden and home to be ruined by a big storm.


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