Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
While water is essential for any landscape, too much of a good thing can actually be detrimental. In fact, without an efficient drainage system, many lawns and landscapes struggle to thrive. Here’s a quick rundown on the various types of landscape drainage solutions, how they work, and where you should use them.
Table of contents
Surface Drain Systems
A surface drain is the simplest landscape drainage system to implement. It connects corrugated plastic tubes, which are usually buried underground, to the gutter-system downspouts and other water collection sources. The water is then directed away from your home and yard and into the sewer system. Newer technology features “dry wells” that collect the initial rush of water and allow it to disperse slowly into the surrounding landscape. This method allows plants to collect some of the excess water and sends it back to the underlying groundwater table. Systems like this not only help your home to be more efficient but help our communities as well.
Learn More: The Rundown on Drains
French Drain Systems
French drains are a type of landscape drainage used to collect and re-direct water from areas where too much of it accumulates. With french drains, trenches are dug and a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel is installed. The pipe is wrapped in a filter fabric that allows water to pass through but keeps rocks and dirt out. The water is then directed into the sewer system or dry well. This system is ideal for keeping low-lying areas from flooding.
Known technically as a “swale,” this water management system uses the contour of the land to direct water away from a home or building and into a bog or a standard drain. A surface regrading should be planned carefully with the advice and help of a landscape architect or other landscape professional. In particular, the elevation drop needs to be at least one inch for every ten feet to be effective. This type of landscape drainage system is most cost-effective when large areas need to be kept drained.
Learn More: Yard Regrading 101
Typically located in basements or other subgrade spaces, a sump pump is a mechanical device that moves water that has been collected in a containment area – a “sump” – and pumps it away from the home into something such as a dry well or city storm drain. They are usually found in homes or buildings where flooding is a problem, or where the lowest portion of the structure is located below the water table. Because the water will naturally collect at the lowest point, sump pumps are ideal for these situations. The pump automatically actuates when the water level in the basin reaches a certain height.
As their name indicates, retaining walls are one of the most popular landscape drainage solutions used to keep various materials from falling or entering an area they don’t belong. This usually applies to the soil, but often includes things like rocks and water as well. Because of their importance, retaining walls should be carefully planned, designed, and installed by professionals. There are many factors that could cause a DIY retaining wall to fail, potentially costing you a lot of time and money. In fact, the buildup of water behind poorly designed or improperly installed retaining walls is the number one reason for their failure. Typical uses for these landscape drainage solutions include abruptly changing the elevation level of landscaping to provide more usable space for the homeowner.
Texas homeowners are familiar with heavy rainstorms. But did you know that excess water is capable of moving large amounts of soil in a single rainstorm? For this reason, it’s important to install a form of erosion control to keep your soil in its place. Consider planting shrubs, trees, or even some grass. Erosion control is far easier and more cost-effective than regularly replacing lost soil.