Water drainage, erosion and sediment solutions

By Dave Heinen of Heinen Landscape & Irrigation
Kansas City Gardener

April showers bring May flowers and, for some of us, the welcome rain may also bring a soggy yard, foundation problems, and an early death to our prized trees, shrubs and grass.   In our area, we generally expect water to dissipate within 48 hours.   That’s the standard.  Beyond a 2-day dry out, standing pools and puddles of water indicate a drainage problem.

On the flip side, when water drainage happens too rapidly erosion and sediment shifts result.  This also produces undesirable outcomes.  Valuable topsoil may move from where you want and need it.  The result – your landscape investment will wash down the sewer if not adequately protected by proper grading and water run off systems.

Hiring a landscape and irrigation contractor that understands drainage, erosion and sediment issues will save you time, frustration and heartache. A professional will show you ways to solve your concerns.  In the end, you’ll protect your investment, enhance the beauty of your landscape and improve the usability of your yard.

Water comes from two primary sources:  natural precipitation in some form and water artificially supplied by irrigation.  A portion of this water seeps into or percolates down through the soil to provide moisture for plant life.  Any additional water becomes excess.

When excess water causes a problem, look for the source – all sources.  In addition to the two primary sources of water, excess water may be coming from properties adjacent to you.  Raising or lowering the soil elevation, by creating berms or swales, can create diversions and channels to redirect flow.  Landscape features like dry creek beds with river rock, perennials, shrubs and trees may also provide a way to channel the water.

Next, look at your own property and see how water moves along paved surfaces, patios and even roof structures.  When you add up the square footage and where the total area discharges, you begin to get an idea of the amount of water you need to manage. Remember, water will travel faster, and thereby drain more quickly, from a hard surface such as a roof or patio, than from a shrub bed or turf areas.

A key item to consider – do you have a good positive flow of water away from your foundation?  Through the addition of soil and possibly gutter extensions, you can move water away from your foundation.  However, if you have wood siding, soil will need to be at least six inches from it because of wood decay or termites.

If these methods do not correct the problem, drain tile may be necessary.  This would involve the installation of various types of piping and inlets.  Consult your drainage contractor to review the types and sizes available.

Overall, the correction of drainage issues can sometimes be a progressive approach.  Follow the steps, and look at all the possible methods, because it will ultimately save you money and give you the best solution.