rain-garden-graphic

Rain garden Graphic from Nature Conservancy

Indicators for the Northern California rainy season are uncertain. Although we’ve had heavy rain early in the season, and more is predicted in the next week, none of the long range weather modeling has been conclusive.  We can only hope for a wet winter. 

You can bet that there will be high winds, and heavy downpours this winter.  And, it can do damage and cause flooding if your drainage is not prepared.

What is drainage and why is it important?
When there is heavy rain, water infiltrates into the soil. Once soil becomes saturated and no more water can be absorbed, it begins to pool on the surface.

If the period of saturation is prolonged water will continue to flow into the deeper layers of soil damaging the roots of your plants.

Drainage is a system of removing excess water either from the ground surface or the rootzone.

Surface drainage is removal of water the ground surface

Subsurface drainage is removal of water from the root zone

Your drainage system will protect your building or house from costly water damage and plants from root damage. Have your drainage checked before winter.  Below we drill deeper into methods of drainage.

Soil Drainage

Most plants need soil that drains well.  That refers to soil whose texture is loose enough to allow water to pass through.  The characteristics of clay soil, which is common in the San Francisco Bay Area, are unfortunately, is the opposite. Compacted soil has the same problem. Heavy rain can cause plant decline and rot.  You can observe this problem by its smell – foul odors. By sight – grey, red or orange spots and insects. 

The solution to soil draining problems:
Organic amendments will improve soil structure.  Inorganic amendments like sand can also be added along with other components.  It is best to rely on a professional who can advise the right combination of ingredients.  2” of mulch also can help at least 2” of mulch over the landscaped area around your house or building.  It will help your property absorb rain more safely in addition to cutting down on erosion or immediate runoff.

Grading To Correct Slope

The ground should slope away from your home or building instead of toward it.  Water runs more quickly down a slope, particularly a slope of clay soil.  The soil surface should not be above your foundation.

The solution grading issues:
There are a number of strategies depending on the property. Trimming back landscape overgrowth on a hillside or low lying area is one.  Grading may be required.  This involves directing surface water to the lowest spot on the property which will empty into a drainage ditch, catch basin or well.

Regular Testing of Landscape Drains*

Visually inspect.  Make sure they are all functioning. Leaves, roots and dirt and other matter can easily block a drain causing water to back up.  Storm water runoff from surfaces such as roofs, driveways and patios should be directed into a collection system to avoid flooding.  This will damage plant roots.

If your building or home does not have gutters or drains consider having them installed.

Proper Retaining Walls

If your property is on a slope a retaining wall could be essential erosion protection.  Make sure to hire a knowledgeable professional to understands its proper construction and drainage as well.

*Types of drainage systems

Catch Basin
A surface drain.  It collects and traps debris in storm drains and prevents it from entering drainage pipes.  
 
Channel Drains
A surface drain. Long narrow strips used between main structures and paving at the edge of a patio or deck
 
French Drains
For patios, decks or walkways so that water is sloped toward them or into landscape beds. Drain covers are usually made of metal or stone.
 
Swales
Shallow trench that carries runoff away from building to municipal drains or ditches.
 
Rain Gardens
Shallow, bowl shaped depressions that are densely planted with flowers, grasses and other plant material. Rain gardens will collect runoff from gutters, roofs, decks and other surfaces. Water percolates gradually into the soil and is absorbed by the plants. Rain gardens also help prevent ground and surface** water pollution.
 

 

 

 

 

5 replies
  1. Zachary Tomlinson
    Zachary Tomlinson says:

    I find it interesting to learn that there are different types of drainage systems, especially for landscaping. My uncle is planning to do a full makeover of his yard and he’s wondering where would the excess water go if ever he added more plants in it. I should suggest that he install a couple of soakwells or drainage systems by contacting paving contractors. This way, It’ll look like how he wants it to.

    Reply
  2. Kristofer Van Wagner
    Kristofer Van Wagner says:

    My wife mentioned that our drainage is backed up as it has been emitting a foul odor as of late. I do agree that when looking to have our drainage cleaned, it is important that we ensure it is done by a professional as they are skilled and experienced. I will definitely be mindful of the plumber I hire to ensure that it is done properly and without any hiccups.

    Reply
  3. John Carston
    John Carston says:

    It helped when you mentioned that it is important to have an idea from the professionals about taking care of your landscape. My uncle mentioned to me last night that they are hoping to find a landscape maintenance management that can keep their landscape well maintained and pests-free and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if they consult a trusted landscape maintenance service as they can answer all his inquiries and will always provide good-quality service.

    Reply
  4. Mia Evans
    Mia Evans says:

    Thanks for pointing out that drainage is the system that would remove excess water from a surface. I can imagine having the need for French drains in our backyard, since we can have lots of activities there. Also, it would be perfect for the outdoor dirty kitchen to make it easier to clean the area after cooking there.

    Reply
  5. Charlotte Fleet
    Charlotte Fleet says:

    Thank you for explaining the importance of proper drainage and how to get it. My parents need to design the drainage for their property. I’ll suggest they keep your tips in mind and hire professionals to help.

    Reply

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