Lawn drainage systems

Updated February 21, 2017

If your lawn has low spots or is very hilly, you may find that low-lying areas get flooded after a heavy rain or snow melt. In addition to rendering that area of your lawn unusable until it dries out, the standing water can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If the water pools near your home, it can damage your foundation. Resolve this problem by installing a lawn drainage system.

Drainage Swale

The easiest and most basic type of drainage system is a drainage ditch, also called a swale. Dig this trench in your lawn to channel the water away from the area that floods to where it can be drained safely away. A swale is less invasive than other types of drainage systems because it's built by removing the sod from the area where you're installing the swale, then digging a trench along the line and replacing the sod. If the swale is fairly short and shallow, you can dig it by hand, but if the swale is large, you may want to rent a 1 1/2-ton excavator, or hire a contractor to dig it.

French Drains

If the water is pooling close to your home, a French drain is your best option. A French drain is a type of drain most often found along the inner or outer walls of the foundation. To construct the French drain, build a trench eight to 12 inches long and cover the soil inside with landscaping fabric. Place several inches of gravel onto the ground inside the trench, then lay perforated pipe -- called drain tile -- onto the gravel. Then pour more gravel into the trench so that it surrounds the drain tile. Cover the trench with soil and sod if it's outdoors, or cement if it's in your basement.

Concrete Channel Drains

If you need quick drainage because your lawn floods quickly, a concrete trench -- or concrete channel -- drain can help. These drains are most often found in paved areas, and can be visually unappealing because of the concrete trench running across your yard, but they can drain water fairly quickly. This is essentially a channel made up of concrete sides sloping into a concrete bottom that has a plastic drain embedded inside. The top of the drain is open, but covered with grating to allow water to flow into it easily. The concrete is impermeable, so the water quickly runs off, rather than slowly seeps into the ground as it does with a swale or French drain.

Underground Drainage Systems

An underground drainage system is often used in situations where rain water or snow melt from the gutters pools alongside the house because the yard slopes down toward the house. To install an underground drainage system, dig a trench from the point source of the water -- in this case, a rain gutter -- to the area where you want the water to drain. This can be the street or the top of a hill facing away from the house where the water can flow down. You also can dig a hole at the end of the trench and fill it with gravel or flat rocks to diffuse the water as it drains. Place PVC pipe into the trench, attaching one end to the end of the rain gutter, and bury the pipe.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.