It doesn’t matter how beautiful a yard is if there are soggy, wet areas that make it feel unusable. Trekking through the muddy spot will inevitably lead to dirty shoes and socks, and the pests that breed in standing soil will soon swarm in large populations if left unchecked. Despite best efforts, stopping water from pooling in a low spot in the yard can be extremely difficult. You need better drainage—STAT.
Luckily, this guide will highlight some of the most common drainage solutions available to help homeowners dry out their yards and get back to enjoying their outside spaces.
Soil gets hard, compacted, and tightens up the more we walk on it, the longer snow sits on top of it every winter, and the more stress a lawn sees. And when a powerful rainstorm comes along under these conditions, the water won’t be able to penetrate the soil, so instead it will pool or wash off into a section of the yard. Aeration can solve this.
Yard aeration is the activity of poking holes into the soil. This does a few things: One, it creates pathways that water and nutrients can take to get to the roots of the grass, promoting a better lawn. It also breaks up soil that’s too compacted to simply drain. There are a number of things you can use to poke the holes including a garden fork, aerator shoes, or a spike aerator.
If a yard isn’t pitched properly, it can become a huge issue. Ideally, the yard should slope away from the home, and if it doesn’t, it will cause a funnel-like effect, pushing the water back into the home rather than draining it away.
Generally speaking, grading a yard involves adding a few inches of clay-type soil and grading it away from the home to promote better drainage.
Sometimes the water that’s causing the issues is coming from a neighboring property or even a poorly pitched street or driveway. In these cases, installing a French drain that prevents the water from flowing into your yard will help keep it dry.
Be prepared: French drains can be a hassle to install. They involve digging a trench, installing a series of perforated pipes, pitching them, and then covering them with a material that drains well, like gravel or crushed stone.
Gutters are designed to control the flow of rainwater from the roof to protect your house’s foundation. However, if the gutters don’t’ shuttle the water far enough away from the home, they could be causing drainage issues.
The easiest way to handle this problem is to install gutter downspout extensions. Flexible and extendable, these accordion-type pipes attach directly to your existing downspouts. Homeowners can then divert the water toward other parts of the lawn that drain a bit better.
Another option for controlling the flow from the gutter system is to collect excess water with rain barrels. These basins can be made from real wood or even plastic, and they can be installed at the end of the downspout. Then, every time it rains, the barrel will capture the water rather than letting it pool on the yard’s surface. This also gives homeowners a renewable water source for watering flowers and vegetable gardens.
Your hardscape may be contributing to your “wet yard” problem. Bricks and concrete can be great to look at and walk on when installed correctly, but these materials don’t drain. They simply shed water off into the lawn, allowing it to collect on the yard’s surface. Low spots or pockets in the bricks or blocks can hold water themselves, leading to mildew or even pest breeding.
Instead of hardscape materials, you may want to consider switching to materials that drain, such as gravel, pebbles, and other loose materials that allow for comfortable walking while preventing puddles from occurring.
As the gutters collect the rainwater from a roof, it channels down the downspouts and dumps directly out onto the ground. Hopefully, the ground can absorb the water. If not, you’re going to have a soggy yard on your hands. Installing a catch basin below the downspout can be the answer.
How a catch basin works: It’s basically a drum in the ground with pipes attached that allow the water to drain out into the soil, a drain emitter, or to a street drain. These pipes will continue to work regardless of soil compaction or ground saturation.
Yard drains are essentially just floor drains for your yard. These drains can be installed wherever water frequently gathers, collecting the water and redirecting it into any area of the yard that drains well, or a dry well.
Installing a yard drain does require some excavation to accommodate the drain itself and its pipes. Once all the excavated dirt has been backfilled and the grass grows back, only a small drain grid will be visible, making it a great choice for well-maintained lawns with recurring wet spots.
Instead of trying to fight the water, consider using it to your advantage: Building a beautiful rain garden. Rain gardens are simply gardens full of water-loving plants. These plants will appreciate the extra water and grow into an attractive section of the yard rather than just a soggy eyesore no one can walk on. Research your area’s garden zone for species that will tolerate wet conditions, such as native sedges and lady ferns.
A dry well can be a great option for capturing and holding water while it drains into the soil. Dry wells are really just barrels dug into the ground and then filled with stones. The stones promote drainage, allowing the water to escape into the soil around the dry well.
Dry wells can be tied into gutter systems, French drains, and other drainage systems. They can also utilize pop-up drain emitters to allow overflowing water to escape during storms, flooding, and other high-water situations.
In most cases, handling a lawn that refuses to drain is a DIY project. With a little bit of knowledge and the above tips, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of standing water, mud, and even pests that plague your property.