Yard Drainage Systems
There are many different types of drainage systems. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. By combining the use of dry creeks, dry wells, French drains, standard drains, burms, and calculated plant placement, we are able to create some effective solutions to manage water flow and drainage issues. Our yard drainage systems solutions maintain the aesthetic appeal of your landscape while improving the functionability of the land.
A dry creek is one way to manage water flow issues. Dry creeks are basically a trenched out area, graded with a slope in the desired location of water flow and filled with gravel. Unlike the creeks we all know and love have running water, this drainage feature is “dry” until the rain comes. While both dry creeks and natural creeks are filled with gravel, dry creeks are usually completely filled with gravel. So aesthetically, a dry creek can be virtually invisible when tied in to the edge of a gravel landscape bed. Dry creeks often include perforated pvc or perforated black corrugated pipe. We prefer to use only pvc in our drains. We also use a sediment shield fabric on the bottom and sides of our drain to prevent dirt washing in and clogging up the drain. Having a good understanding of the dry creek should facilitate our explanation of a French drain.
A French drain is typically a dry creek, but covered with top soil and sod. Some French drains have a layer of fabric on top of them and are covered with mulch, as opposed to the top soil and sod. French drains were initially created as a way to slow down water flow and control erosion, but they are also great when you need to hide a big drain in the middle of your lawn. It is common for French drains to have catch basins with entry points for an area or areas of heavy water flow in one or more locations along the drain. This allows large volumes of water to enter the drain faster, thus reducing the potential for soil erosion or building damages from the water rushing above ground on the surface. Think of it as a sewer system for the rain water rushing through your house, and possibly into your basement of crawl space. With a sewers system, all you see is the entry points. If you follow a sewer to where it ends, you could find the exit point. However, the rest of the system is underground, so we never really see it or think about it. It just keeps the rain water from destroying our roads, similar to how a French drain would keep the rain water from destroying your home.
A dry well is a French drain or dry creek that has no route. It’s just a large holding area for water. It allows water to sit under the ground as opposed to on the surface. One of the biggest problems with water sitting on the surface is that it can create insect and/or fungus problems. A dry well is just an artificial porous space created in the soil which is intended to prevent standing water issues. It gives the water a place to stand safely until it can soak through the soil back to the ground water. We typically put a sediment shield around the bottom and sides of our dry wells. Some dry wells are left open like dry creeks and others are closed like French drains. Dry wells are often used in combination with standard drains or French drains. Using a dry well near the exit point your drain can be a way to increase capacity or slow down the water velocity. Even a small dry well can make a large impact in on the water speed as water flows out of your drain back into the yard
Standard Drains & Burms
A standard drain is just a solid pipe connected to a previously collected source of water and buried to exit at a more desirable location. Our standard drain is usually connected to the downspouts which run the water collected from the roof and gutters. We like to run our drains 8 to 10 feet away from a house using 4 inch wide drain grade PVC pipe. We finish all of our standard drains with a dry well and NDS Spring loaded pop-up emitter. Feel free to check out the NDS website. We utilize several NDS products, as well as the landscaper versions of NDS solutions. One of the great landscape drainage control tools which we can offer and NDS products can not offer, is the construction of a burm. Burms are just piles of dirt strategically placed to push water flow a certain direction. The size and shape of burms should be based on the volume of water and desired direction of flow correction. Burms are often sodded or seeded and mowed just like any other area of the lawn. They can also be used to highlight or raise a planting area in a landscape.
Four Trees and One Plant That Can Provide Drainage Solutions
Two of our favorite trees for soaking up that wet spot in your yard are Sycamore and Willow trees. Bald Cypress and Birch varieties also do very well in wet areas. We realize that trees won’t always fit in the area you are trying to dry up. So our recommendation is to dive into the world of hydrangeas. The root word “hydra,” which means “water,” ought to be enough to tip you off that these plants love their water. There are so many varieties of hydrangea to choose from: “Oakleaf,” “Lime Light,” “Endless Summer,” “Strawberry Vanilla,” etc, etc. It makes it a little easier to mix it up in your landscape, without losing a clean look. If you are in to the natural look we can always create a water garden. There are plenty of native-looking, water-loving plants which can thrive in this area within a water garden setting. The power of plants is often over-looked when it comes to water control. If used properly, they can be quite an effective tool.