Solutions to 4 Landscape Drainage Problems

, , , , , , , , , ,
landscape drain

I’ve updated our post about drainage from March of this year.
We talk again about solutions to landscape drainage problems.
There is additional detail added including graphics that describe the drainage problems and solutions.
One of the solutions described below is a dry creek bed. It was a project of Gardeners’ Guild at Spring Lake Village.

1. Hardscape with Standing Water

Example of drain pipe clogged with tree roots

Includes patios, pavers, driveways, parking lots and steps.
If these areas have had standing water for some time it could be due to these issues listed below

Improper grading
Your hardscape may not have the proper slope and is directing water toward the building foundation. 

Blocked drains
Tree roots, leaves, mulch and other debris can blow into the drain from winds and rain

Corroded pipes
Over time, your drainage pipes deteriorate and will eventually collapse.

The Risks
Water can put your structure’s foundation at risk.
Storm water carries with it chemicals, debris, dirt, pesticides and other toxins.


Solutions for Standing Water 
Regrading.  Over time a property will settle.
Clear out drain grates and pipes (make a plan for their regular future maintenance)
Arrange gravel around the perimeter of drain grate to deter debris from blowing in.
On larger hardscaped commercial property areas more drains may be required.

2. Flooded Turf

Aeration process illustration

Above illustrates what aeration does

The culprit can be grading but a more likely offender is compacted soil.
Summer drought conditions and degraded soil will shrink pore space that normally accepts water and nutrients.
High foot traffic will also contribute to soil compaction. You can identify it by its hard surface.

Soil texture needs to be loose enough to allow water to pass through. Clay soil, common in the San Francisco Bay Area is the opposite!

The Risks
When water pools on top for a prolonged period, turfgrass will decline and rot.
You can observe it by smell – foul odor. 
You will also notice grey, red or orange spots and insects.

Solutions for Flooded Turf
Re-grading
Aeration. The soil is perforated which opens up its pores to allow nutrients and moisture. (See graphic above)
Build a dry creek bed.  It is a gully or a trench usually lined with stones and edged with plants to mimic the look of a stream.  They are beautiful and will help with drainage. See example below.

GGI dry creek bed project at Spring Lake Village, Santa Rosa

Dry creek bed under construction at Spring Lake Village Santa Rosa

3. Flooded Planter bed and other planted areas

 Example of flooded planter bed

A planted area or bed should be designed to allow the water to flow out and be distributed to other areas.  A proper slope needs to be calculated with a site level during the design process.

The Risk

Plant root damage will occur if soil is saturated for a prolonged period. When soil’s abililty to absorb water is tapped out it is considered saturated.

Solutions for Flooded Planter Beds

Re-grading will help with slope problem. Correcting this involves directing surface water to the lowest spot on the property which will empty into a drainage ditch, catch basin or well.
Good options include:
Creed beds (illustration above)
French drains
Bioswales. Increasingly popular and effective.  They are constructed to slow, collect infiltrate and filter stormwater.  They include a permeable storm bed. (See graphic below)

Bioswale illustration

4. Flooding Around Down Spouts

Solution to flooding around down spout

Example of re-directing down spout and into creek bed

This is a common problem.  In heavy rain down spouts can empty rainwater into the landscape.

The Risk

Your building’s foundation
Plant root damage, erosion and hardscape deterioration.

The Solution

A professional can re-direct the downspout.  A dry creek bed is an additional step to drive moisture away from your building.

Will San Francisco’s Street Tree Maintenance Timetable Work For You?

, , , , , , ,
San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule

San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule

The passage of Proposition E last November, was welcome news for San Francisco property owners.
There is, however, a lengthy start up period as San Francisco’s street tree maintenance implementation doesn’t begin until 2019.
Depending on the type, health or age of the tree, waiting until that time could be problematic.

Consider That Trees Should be Evaluated Annually

It is ideal to have an Arborist evaluate a tree’s condition and advise if pruning is necessary.
Generally, some trees may need annual pruning. Others bi-annually and others an “as needed” basis.

Reasons for pruning a tree.

  • Maintain its health
    • Reduce risk of failure from dead or weak branches
    • Improve tree structure
    • Save a storm or wind damaged tree
  • Safety
    • Provide clearance
    • Mitigate risk that weak branches could fall
  • Other reasons

    • Improve aesthetics
    • Manage flower or fruit production

San Francisco’s Responsibility – A snapshot

Effective as of July 1st

San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Responsibility Includes
Maintaining all San Francisco street trees within The City limits
Any sidewalk repair due to tree root damage
Any injuries and property damage resulting from failure to maintain the trees

Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule Order of Priority
First – trees in decline or that pose safety threats. This work is expected to last two years.
Routine pruning schedule will be posted July 2018
Routine pruning will not start until 2019
Trees will be subsequently scheduled for pruning every 3-5 years.

Exclusions
Any tree pruning requests from The City prior to July 1st. The property owner is responsible for that work.
Sidewalk repair not due to tree roots.

San Francisco’s Urban Forest Vision

Proposition E, the ordinance describing The City’s street tree maintenance program is Phase I of an overall vision for growing San Francisco’s Urban Forest.
It was a collaboration of SF Public Works, and Friends of the Urban Forest
Trees were inventoried and placed on a map

Friends of the Urban Forest highlights their goals as

  • Increase The City’s street trees by 50%. There are currently 125,000 street trees.
  • Improve maintenance efficiency and effectiveness
  • Ensure a more equitable distribution of trees throughout San Francisco’s neighborhoods

If You Choose to not Wait Until 2019 for Routine Street Tree Pruning

Guidelines haven’t been formalized.
You can have your trees evaluated and/or schedule work without opting out
. 

The City only asks for information that assures them that your Arborist conforms to ISA standards. 

It can be sent in an email that includes

  • Name of the Arborist
  • Description of work and location
  • A statement that asserts that the work will meet ISA standards

Gardeners’ Guild is consulting with clients and non-clients whose trees have not been tagged but want work done now.
Call us if you have questions about tree care. (510) 439-3700.
SF Department of Public Works will also answer your questions.
(415) 554-6700
sfpublicworks.org/trees

 

Your Poinsettia Order Will Help North Bay Fire Victims

, , , , ,
finalmultipoint

Order Poinsettias help North Bay fire victims

Gardeners’ Guild is launching this campaign for the 2017 holiday season because of the catastrophic effects the wildfires have had on San Francisco North Bay residents.  It will take a lot of support for survivors to rebuild their lives.  And, Gardeners’ Guild wants to help. 

The “how” of – Order Poinsettias help North Bay fire victims.  
Gardeners’ Guild will donate 10% of each poinsettia order to help North Bay fire victims. 

When to Order Poinsettias

Now. 
Our nurseries grow limited quantities and to ensure availability
Order by the second week in November.

Readers Digest calls the Poinsettia “the official flower of Christmas”.  Their cheerful colors and air cleaning properties are a winning combination. 

What is included*

Poinsettia delivery to your office.
Maintanence from November 28th through first week in January. 
Removal is the first week in Janary
*See more details below about Poinsettia options colors and sizes.

Gardeners’ Guild Interior Division

Our interior division services San Francisco, East Bay including Richmond, Emeryville, Berkeley, Oakland; as well as Marin.
We do interior plant maintenance as well as installation of plants and containers.  Lease or purchase options.

Poinsettia Care

Poinsettias are temperamental.
They need just the right light and moisture to last through the holidays. 
Leave it to us to maintain expertly.

They need strong indirect light, love moisture but not too much and warmish temperatures. 

How to order

Interior Account Manager Angela Wrath can take your order and answer any questions.

Direct: (510) 439-3707

email-button

San Francisco Bay Area – Fire Safety Tips, , , , , ,

747 Super Tanker can carry 19,600 gallons of fire retardant. Photo Courtesy of KPIX-TV

Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the north bay wildfires. Massive swaths of Santa Rosa decimated within hours.  Countless numbers of residents now homeless.  Other evacuees, anxiously praying for a home to return to. October, with its notorious Santa Ana winds, is upon us. Below are tips for keeping your property and family as safe as possible from fire damage.

Keeping Property Safe – What We Can Do

We can’t outrun Mother Nature.   But, there are actions we can take to blunt her effects. Example. It was impossible to stop the fire’s path of destruction on Sunday with 50 MPH winds.  But, we can minimize danger by creating a buffer between trees and structures. 

The Cal fire website is loaded with educational materials on fire prevention.

They advise on creating a “defensible space” around your home or building.  This is the best protection from the ravages of fire. 

Secondarily, they suggest replacing highly flammable plants with those known to be more fire retardant.

Summary of Cal Fire’s Ready Set Go Action Planner.

Minimize nearby plants and create a buffer zone

Zone 1 – Priority – Create a 30 foot buffer between your structure and any nearby wildlife by
Trim all nearby tree canopies, remove leaf litter, and all vegetation near windows
Cutting back low level flammable vegetation that can ignite a nearby tree

Zone 2 – Create a 30 to 100 feet buffer
Remove what Cal fire terms “ladder fuels” including low level grasses and other debris

Secondary Actions to Safeguard your Property
Cal Fire has a list of the most fire retardant construction materials
They recommend touring a fire-ready home
Included are details on advance planning for evacuation and a checklist

Check out their handy infographic with tips on one page.

Stay safe.

4 Common Drainage Problems and How To Fix Them

, , , , , , , , , ,

Highway 37 and US 101 February 2017

The photo above is breathtaking reminder of the toll our rainy season has taken on San Francisco Bay Area residents.  El Niño surprised us with a ferocious encore performance. Many of our properties, roads and highways are still recovering.

Highway 37 is an extreme example of what happens when drainage fails.

Five feet of water flooded a 3-mile stretch of the highway after the heavy storms this winter.

Ditches on either side of the highway act effectively as drains, keeping water from flooding the road in a typical rainy season. But, this year, back to back storms prevented them from draining. Having no place to drain the overflow, efforts by Caltrans to pump the water out were stymied.    

An emergency solution included raising a portion of the roadway and fixing the drainage system by installing larger pipes, giving it greater capacity for moisture.  It seems to have worked. No unexpected weather has tested it yet, though.

Does your property have any areas of standing water, mulch that is washing away, soggy grass or mosquito problems? If so you probably have poor drainage that winter storms have exposed.

 


hardscape with standing water

Area 1

Hardscape

Includes patios, pavers, driveways, parking lots and steps.

If your hardscape has had standing water for sometime it could be due to these issues.

Improper grading. The photo on the right is an example of pooling water showing improper grading.

Blocked Drains  Debris, mulch or plant material could have gotten in from winds and rain.

The Risk

If the drainage problem is not resolved your structure’s foundation can be at risk.

Solution

  • Re-grading. Over time a property will settle.
  • Clear out drain grates and pipes. They should be maintained consistently. Laying down gravel around the perimeter of the drain grate can help in its maintenance.
  • Retaining wall. This can also resolve a slope problem.

 

Area 2

Turf

It can be also be improper grading.

But more likely it is compacted soil.

Previous drought conditions and/or degraded soil will shrink its pore space that normally allows water and nutrients. You can tell if soil is compacted because its surface is hardened.

Soil texture needs to be loose enough to allow water to pass through.  Clay soil, common in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the opposite.

The Risk

Water will pool on top and you will have soggy mess of plant material.  This is true of all plants.  They will decline and rot. 
You can observe this problem by its smell – foul odors.
By sight – grey, red or orange spots and insects.  

 

flooded turf

Solution

  • Re-grading can also help.
  • Aeration.  This is perforating the soil opening up its pores to allow nutrients and moisture.
  • Creek beds are another good solution.

Area 3

Planter Beds and All Planted Areas

A planted area should be designed to allow the water to flow out and be distributed to other areas.  Consider natural water flow.

A proper slope needs to be calculated with a site level during the design process.

The Risk

Plant root damage will occur if soil is saturated for a prolonged period. Soil is saturated when its ability to absorb is tapped out. 

flooded planter beds

Solution

  • If it is a slope problem, regrading will help.  Correcting a slope problem involves directing surface water to the lowest spot on the property which will empty into a drainage ditch, catch basin or well.
  • Creek beds, french drains and bioswales are great options!

Area 4

Gutter Spouts

A common problem.  If gutter down spouts are not properly installed they can empty rainwater into the landscape it will damage plant material and your hardscape.

The Risk

Your structure’s foundationPlant root damage, erosion and hardscape will be degraded.

flooded planter beds

Solution

  • Hire a professional to re-direct the spouts so the water goes downhill.

Hire a Professional

At the very least call one and discuss your drainage problems with them. 
Your plant material, trees, hardscape including driveways and your building’s foundation are too important.
Gardeners’ Guild has a construction division with many years of experience resolving all kinds of drainage problems.

Learn More About Drainage Systems

Descriptions of 5 Types of Drainage Systems

Pervious Paving – Pavers that will help with drainage and are sustainable!