The Best Drainage Solutions for Your Backyard

Managing water runoff in your yard is essential to prevent flooding, erosion, and water damage to your home’s foundation. Below, we’re sharing both professional and DIY yard drainage solutions designed to manage water runoff and prevent damage to buildings and landscaping.

Benefits of Backyard Drainage

A well-maintained yard drainage system is essential for maintaining a healthy, functional, and attractive outdoor space.

Here are some key benefits of yard drainage solutions:

1. Prevents Water Damage to Home

A good drainage system will prevent water from pooling around your home’s foundation, which could cause structural damage and mold growth, should water seep into the basement or crawlspace.

2. Protects Landscaping

Drainage systems prevent soil erosion and waterlogging, which can damage plants, trees, and grass.

3. Preserves Hardscapes

Proper drainage helps prevent water damage to driveways, pathways and retaining walls, increasing their lifespan.

4. Improves Soil Quality

Proper drainage helps maintain soil quality by draining away excess water, leaving behind the nutrients plants and grass need to grow.

5. Enhances Property Value

A well-maintained yard with drainage can increase a property’s overall value, and make it more attractive to potential buyers.

DIY Yard Drainage Solutions

Want to tackle your yard drainage issues yourself? You’re in luck! There are several great DIY solutions to help manage water runoff and prevent flooding and erosion, including:

Lawn Aeration

Lawn aeration involves creating holes in the lawn, in addition to breaking up compacted soil underneath. This allows air, nutrients and water to more deeply reach the roots of grass, reducing runoff.

How to Aerate Your Lawn

  1. 1-2 days prior to aerating, water your lawn to soften the soil.
  2. Mow your lawn to the appropriate height for your grass type.
  3. With a spike or plug aerator, make passes over the lawn, ensuring that you cover the entire area. More heavily compacted soil may need multiple passes in different directions.
  4. (Optional) Fertilize your lawn to help promote new growth.
  5. Water your lawn to help the soil recover.
  6. Be sure to avoid heavy foot traffic on the lawn for a few weeks to allow the soil to properly settle.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Downspout Extension

Downspouts run down the side of a house and stop just above the ground, carrying rainwater from the roof to the ground or a drainage system. A downspout extension is an easy, fast, and affordable way to direct water away from a home’s foundation or landscaping.

How to Install

  1. Measure the length needed to extend your downspout away from your home’s foundation.
  2. With a hacksaw, cut the extension to the desired length.
  3. Attach the extension by sliding the downspout extension onto the end of the downspout. If loose, secure it with screws or nails.
  4. Position the extension so that it directs water away from the home’s foundation. If needed, use rocks or bricks to hold it in place.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Dry Well

If you have limited space or want to capture and reuse rainwater, a dry well is the perfect solution. This buried container is filled with rocks or gravel to collect and slowly disperse water into the ground. It’s especially useful for managing water runoff from downspouts or low-lying areas.

How to Install

  1. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the dry well container.
  2. Place the container in the hole and fill it with rocks or gravel.
  3. Connect a drainage pipe from the source of water to the dry well.
  4. Backfill the hole with soil.

Difficulty Level: Moderate (requires digging and some plumbing knowledge)

Rain Garden

If you want to add a touch of beauty to your yard while managing stormwater runoff, a rain garden is the way to go! This planted depression collects rainwater and allows it to slowly soak into the ground. It can capture and filter runoff from roofs, driveways, and other surfaces.

How to Install

  1. Choose a location for the rain garden that receives runoff from a downspout or sloped area.
  2. Dig a shallow depression, keeping the center slightly lower than the edges.
  3. Amend the soil with compost to improve drainage.
  4. Plant native plants that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions.
  5. Mulch the garden to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Difficulty Level: Moderate (requires digging and some gardening knowledge)

Permeable Pavers

Permeable pavers provide a low-maintenance solution to managing water runoff. These paving stones allow water to flow through them, reducing runoff and allowing water to seep into the ground below.

How to Install

  1. Excavate the area to the desired depth, typically 6-12 inches.
  2. Install a base layer of crushed stone or gravel, compacting it to create a stable base.
  3. Lay the permeable pavers in the desired pattern, leaving small gaps between them.
  4. Fill the gaps with gravel or sand to allow water to flow through.

Difficulty Level: Moderate (requires excavation and precise installation of pavers)

Professional Yard Drainage Solutions

The following yard drainage solutions are best left to a professional, as they can require underground digging that could interfere with power, gas and other lines on your property.

French Drain

A French drain is a trench filled with gravel or rock that redirects water away from an area. It typically includes a perforated pipe to help move water to a desired location. If you have a flat yard with poor drainage, a French drain can efficiently remove excess water and prevent waterlogging.

Key Advantages

  • French drains are typically more efficient than surface drains at managing underground water.
  • French drains are great for redirecting water over a large area of landscape.

Installation Time

1-3 days, depending on size and complexity

Approximate Cost

$20-100 per linear foot, depending on drain depth, type of pipe used, and labor involved

Sump Pump

A sump pump is most commonly installed in a home’s basement to remove water that has accumulated in a water-collecting basin. The water collected in the basin has typically seeped in from the soil or has been channeled into the basin by a drainage system.

Key Advantages

  • Sump pumps prevent basement flooding by quickly removing water that accumulates in the sump pit.
  • Sump pumps can be used in conjunction with other drainage solutions to provide comprehensive protection against water damage.

Typical Installation Time

1-2 days, to include digging the sump pit and installing the pump

Approximate Cost

$600-1,200, depending on the type of pump, depth of the sump pit, and complexity of installation

Catch Basin

This grated drainage structure is installed in driveways, patios, or sidewalks to collect surface water and redirect it away from a property.

Key Advantages

  • The grates on catch basins help prevent debris such as leaves, branches, and trash from entering the drainage system, reducing the risk of clogs and blockages.
  • Catch basins are typically more cost-effective than more complex draining systems.

Typical Installation Time

1-2 days, including digging the basin and installing the grate and pipes

Approximate Cost

$200-500, depending on the size of the basin, depth of piping, and complexity of the installation

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