Landscaping for Poor Drainage: Identifying Problems

Misery comes in all shapes and sizes, and discovering you have to deal with landscaping for poor drainage can provide them all. Where the soil is wet from runoff or there’s a high water table, if you want to make use of your land, you need a proper drainage system. Water will rapidly pool if no solution is found.

This can result in all sorts of new problems, including damage to the foundations of standing structures, the loss of planting and the proliferation of biting gnats and mosquitoes. At best, standing water leaves your garden an unwelcoming muddy mess. Therefore, it is important to know about drainage problems and solutions to make timely corrections and avoid serious issues in the future.

How to Know if Landscaping is Necessary for Poor Drainage

A good architect can evaluate the yard’s geological structure and ‘fire the levels’ to determine their exact positions of features irrespective of how flat and featureless the site looks. Spot elevations inform the developer of where to focus the drainage and warn where there are likely to be challenges that can be overcome by forward planning.

The way groundwater and surface water drain away plays a significant role in crop irrigation but even in gardens excess water severely restricts options for planting. Although heavy rainfall is, of course, a major contributing factor affecting landscaping for poor drainage, if it’s normal to have poorly draining areas on your property, it may be a sign of a high water table.

Rectifying problems and looking for backyard drainage solutions can work out expensive and time-consuming, so it is important to determine how to avoid pooling problems in the future?

Test Your Current Drainage

Before you go any further with landscaping for poor drainage, use this simple experiment to figure out what is going on underground. Dig a hole about two feet square and fill it up to the top with water. If the drainage is efficient it will be gone within an hour. If it takes 12 hours or longer and you were not building a pond, there are problems. If it requires longer than 24 hours to drain, its severe and could already be causing damage to plant life by waterlogging the roots in the area.

Surface Water Causing Drainage Issues

Sites with heavy clay soils will suffer persistent groundwater issues. The water can not drain or pass through the soil layer. It stays trapped in pockets on the surface. Theoretically, each home is designed so that water flows down through the garden to collect in storm drains and flow onwards into the nearest river system.

Construction workers do not always get this gradient just right and the flow ceases with water unable to flow and make progress. With the latest drainage systems, it is easier to ensure the correct surface gradient for better overall draining efficiency.

The French drain, on the other hand, is an ancient and popular drainage solution that collects water underground as it percolates down through heavy soils. It’s a simple and inexpensive method since it is merely a trench lined with rubble and any length of old perforated pipe. You can also use roofing felt or geotextiles above the soil and cover with dirt to direct runoff towards it. The immediate area drains into the trench to eventually leach into the soil and will no longer accumulate to cause problems above ground.

Hardpan Calling for Landscaping for Poor Drainage

Solution: Underground drainage

Where there are hardpan surfaces, poor drainage can leave water standing smelly and stagnant and destroy the whole area. The entire site may need regrading and a more comprehensive drainage strategy applied. Larger systems use a framework of water pipes connected by trench drains. Plastic piping makes it possible to drain water off-site straight into a ditch or storm drain relatively cheaply.

The drainage system is an essential part of your landscape design in heavy-rainfall places like Florida or Seattle, and anywhere else where flooding is frequent. The heavier duty drainage needed for exceptionally wet places is naturally, more expensive but in the end, it does pay for itself by preventing water damage.

This type of system flows into an enclosed sump tank if there is no storm drain or ditch available. This takes digging a massive hole and surrounding the tank with gravel. The water stays put until it is able to flow out and seep into the ground in a more controlled fashion.

High Water Table Resulting in Poor Drainage

Solution: Raise it or use water loving plants

Unless you are thinking of owning a boating lake or water gardens, low lying places with a high water table will pose a real obstacle for landscape design. During most of the season, roots remain deprived of oxygen and the plant will gradually die of suffocation just like an overwatered plant in the kitchen. Even plants that are more resistant are now more prone to fungal diseases. Throughout high water ecosystems, certain species that grow around rivers and wetlands also do well soaking up water in a wet garden.

Riparian plants, whose natural habitats are bogs, fens and marshes are the best options but not all will suit your landscape or soil. Trees from comparable wetlands in other countries also make great options, but there will be indigenous trees readily available too, he black ash, nuttal oak, pong cypress and willow or pear are popular options among many. Either way, the roots will help bind the soil and any tall plants or trees will act as useful breaks in areas vulnerable to water or wind erosion.

Final Thoughts

A poor landscape drainage system can quickly get out of hand and become a huge issue. It can render your land useless and devalue your property. To add insult to injury because of the higher likelihood of damage to your property, repeated flooding will also increase home insurance premiums. You won’t be covered for any loss or damage if you haven’t taken reasonable precautions.

Identifying problems and knowing how to fix a yard that holds water is crucial here. You can start resolving the water drainage issues by consulting a landscape drainage professional. They will evaluate your land, identify the problem and offer a workable solution using up to date techniques and materials.