Droplets of water pound against the windows leaving a reminder of Mother Nature’s impression. Evidence of pools of standing water may be found close to the house or throughout the yard. Underneath these poor drainage locations, moss may be evident where neither flowers nor grass can grow. Standing water may result in a larger problem if it travels toward the house’s foundation and weakens it. The solution may not be simple or quick; yet, there are ways for you to start enjoying your yard again.
Assessing the Situation
A well-drained property slopes gradually away from the house. Homeowners can measure the distance from the foundation and extend out ten feet. There should be a slight decline where water can descend, almost rolling to another location.
Draw a Draining Plan
A sketch of your property detailing the house, decks, steps, driveway and street, as well as how the water flows, marked with directional arrows, will determine high and low spots in your yard. Whether this “drainage plan” is a visual for you or a professional, it will certainly help to pinpoint the problem and create a plan.
To determine what is occurring underground, dig a hole measuring two feet in depth and width. Fill the hole, reaching the surface, with water. If the water is drained within an hour, your drainage is excellent; however, a problem will be evident if water remains after 12 hours. If it remains beyond 24 hours, it indicates a significant problem affecting trees and shrubs.
Gutters, Rain Barrels, and Drainage Ditches
Are your gutters working properly or clogged? This may be one reason why excess amounts of water are present near the foundation. If the water puddles beyond the gutter, you may consider creating an extension. Two possibilities would work.
- An eco-friendly means is to capture the water in rain barrels, and use for a multitude of purposes, especially watering newly planted trees or flowers or during periods of drought. Consider adding a rain barrel to other buildings on your property, such as barns or garages.
- A secondary action may be to install a French drain, which is an underground drainage ditch. Where water normally gathers, a four-inch diameter drain pipe could carry the water to a six-inch deep graveled location five-feet underground. These types of ditches can prevent water from reaching the foundation as well as eliminate puddles on the surface.
If you are seeking to add a feature to your yard, consider a rain garden. Growing in popularity, a rain garden has become a practical, beautiful solution to drainage problems. Located in a low spot in the yard, roughly ten feet away from the house, rainwater is used to redirect flow to plants. If the soil is predominately clay or a combination of soil and sand, compost or light soil will need to be added. To prevent seeds from washing away, choose native plants, shrubs, and trees with a deep root system, such as daylilies and cannas, Minnie Pearl phlox and blue lobelia, red switch grass and inkberry bush, or sweet bay Magnolia or the red maple. Through North Carolina’s State Cooperative Extension Office, homeowners can find more information about how to design a rain garden to ease drainage and attract birds, butterflies, and bees.
A second beautiful feature that blends in with your yard combines a variety of sized rocks with a flavoring of plants. This “dry creek” remains beautiful with a trickle of water to seasons of drought. Just imagine a low area in your yard divided by river stones and large rocks surrounded by cascading plants or shrubs. While the “dry creek” eliminates standing areas of water, it provides a low-maintenance and strikingly attractive means to help water find a place to travel.
Expensive to inexpensive solutions are available to those who need a pathway to redirect water. It is time you start feeling positive when hearing thunder or a downpour of rain. Perhaps, rain will force a new reaction rather than worry… grab your umbrella and start singing, “Singing in the Rain!”