Ideas for Drainage Ditch Landscaping

Written by tiffany bennett
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Ideas for Drainage Ditch Landscaping
Swales sometimes direct water into a landscape drain. (Drain image by Joe Hamden from

Poor drainage is one of the fastest ways to ruin a homeowner's vision for a beautifully landscaped yard. Soggy soil and muddy run-off replaces the dream of thriving flower gardens and manicured grass. Fortunately, a well-designed drainage ditch can solve these problems and add personality to the yard at the same time.


Swales are a subtle way to guide runoff water to an appropriate place. When a swale is constructed, the yard is graded with a slight slope to direct water to the centre of a very shallow, almost imperceptible "V" shape. The swale itself is also sloped, so that water flows down the centre of the swale into a landscape drain, pond, street or other location. A swale creates proper drainage without disturbing the appearance of the landscape.

Creek Bed

For more dramatic drainage problems, construct a dry creek bed according to the natural flow of water across your yard. Dig a ditch at least a foot deep and line it with river stones and other small rocks. For a natural look, incorporate larger rocks throughout the bed and along its sides. Place water-loving plants, like iris, acorus, Japanese primrose, hostas, golden meadowsweet, summer snowflake, illustris, checkered lily and Pretoria, in and around the bed. Add a bench and several garden statues to make your creek bed a backyard focal point.

French Drain

French drains consist of a shallow trench filled with plastic piping used to direct water away from problem areas. The top half of the piping is perforated to allow water to enter the pipe, while the bottom half is solid to prevent it from seeping back out. Once water enters the pipe through the holes at the top, it runs downhill and empties into a pond, drain, ditch or other area. The rest of the trench is filled with gravel in order to hide the piping. Deeper versions of these drains are often installed around the perimeter of a house during construction in order to keep the basement from flooding.


Give your runoff water a place to collect in by constructing a manmade pond in the soggiest area of your property. Line the outside of the pond with rocks and water-loving plants. Not only will this eliminate a big chunk of your waterlogged lawn, but it will give you plenty of excess soil to fill in other low spots. However, be sure to clean your pond out yearly to keep it looking its best.

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