Summer in the south comes with plenty of heavy afternoon thundershowers...accompanied by the looming threat of hurricane season. Which is why NOW is the time to address drainage problems before they turn into costly foundation, landscape, septic, barn, garden, etc. repairs. L. Woodrow Ross shares his story of drainage woes plus tips on repair strategies.
Procrastination will not Eliminate Your Drainage Issues
No matter how hard we wish, procrastination will not eliminate problems with drainage.
The rains will come and the water will flow downhill, regardless of how much we wish otherwise. The wise choice is to take action to solve the problem now.
Not next month, not next season, not next year, right now...and I know from which I speak.
A drainage problem has been a source of irritation for me for several years. One side of my yard slopes in the direction of the drive and a walk extends from the end of the drive around the back of the house to an entry onto a sun porch.
The rain flowed down the slope, onto the drive and ran along the walk to the back yard. Where the walk connected to steps that led to the sun porch, the water would divert and run across mulch at the end on a patio and across a septic tank.
This was a sporadic problem and was ignored for too long
This spring, we had a monsoon level rain and our back yard was akin to a lake.
It was time to take action and solve the problem before a repeat of the situation, with worse damage, occurred.
Catch Basin and Four Inch Pipe Installation
Since the water could not be diverted elsewhere, I chose to install a catch basin near the steps that would collect the flow of water.
A four inch pipe was connected to the catch basin and installed in a trench to transport the water 50 feet to be released beyond the house where it would not cause a problem.
In order to preserve the zoysia sod, only about 10 feet at a time was trenched and the flexible pipe was lowered into the trench, covered with soil and the sod replaced.
This minimized the time that the sod was exposed, so that it would not dry out and would root back into the other sod with minimal disruption.
After the installation, which spanned a couple of days, the suspense of waiting for the next rain was intense.
When it finally came, we were delighted to see that it worked out satisfactorily.
As John “Hannibal” Smith, played by George Peppard, in the 1980’s TV series The A Team often said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” This was one of the “100 greatest Quotes and Catch Phrases in 2006.”
Securing Material to Solve Problem
As with many projects, the dread of starting, and unknown costs, is often the hardest part.
We visited the local Lowes store and purchased the catch basin and flexible pipe and only had to supply the “elbow grease” to complete the installation.
The subsequent frequent rainfall and sporadic watering has allowed the zoysia to root back and at this point, the disturbance of the lawn is minimal.
This wasn't an expensive fix at all and has already preventing costly future repairs to our landscape and home. We're glad we didn't put it off any longer!
Evaluate Drainage Problems to Select Proper Solution
There are many ways to approach a drainage problem, depending on location, pitch of the surrounding area, type of soil, etc.
Sometimes it is possible to bury perforated pipe with a mesh sleeve and allow water to percolate into the surrounding soil.
Other times, it is necessary to do as we did and channel the water away from the problem area to a non-critical area.
In some cases, water can be redirected into a concrete or concrete/stone channel to be carried away on the surface. It depends on the visual effects in the area that is affected.
Gutters are something else to evaluate as they may not have been sized correctly for your house.
If you already have established drains in place and suddenly experience drainage issues, it's worth doing a test to see if they're clogged up with leaves and debris. If this is the case, you may be able to use a leaf blower or hose to clear a small clog, rent a sewer cleaning machine (for PVC pipe) or hydro jetter machine (for other piping) for larger clogs, or you may need to dig up the pipes, clear them out, and either reset them or replace the drains.
In our situation, it was necessary to channel the water through an underground pipe to maintain a pleasing visual presentation.
Each water drainage issue will have to be properly evaluated based on all the pertinent factors.
If you're unsure how to address the problem, consult a drainage expert like a grading professional, landscaper, civil or soil engineer, or landscape architect...it will be well worth the upfront investment.