Love Your Landscape – March 2017

With wet weather having soaked Southern Oregon for a couple of months now, the topic of proper drainage should be on everyone’s mind. Many of my neighbors in Jacksonville ended-up buying sump pumps and extra hoses, in an effort to keep way too much rain water at bay.

Creating good drainage around your home (and in your landscape plan) is a great benefit to the value of your property and will go a long way toward safekeeping your entire property. Ensuring well-functioning drainage is absolutely the first step in protecting your house from water damage.

The good news is that it’s possible to eliminate most water problems around the average home.

Of course, each property and landscape design is unique, but many of the proven drainage solutions are universal. The first and most commonly-used technique for drainage, which should be incorporated during the construction phase, is “positive drainage.” This drainage method utilizes a slope away from the home to promote rapid runoff. Doing so will help avoid collection of pooled water near the home foundation which can migrate down the soil to the foundation walls. The slope for good positive drainage should be about 3 to 5 percent within 10 feet of the foundation.

Positive drainage is extremely important in minimizing soil-related foundation problems. Occasionally, when homeowners construct berms for flowerbed areas, they create a dam between the berm and the foundation, preventing the surface water from draining away from the structure. While the berm may be visually appealing, it can be the cause of foundation damage.

Another drainage solution to consider is installation of French drains. The basic concept behind a French drain is that water always flows downhill, and by the easiest route possible. A French drain may be as simple as a slightly-sloped trench filled with round-rock or gravel and perforated pipe used to divert underground water away from your house.

French drains work by providing an easy channel for water to flow. Surface and subsurface water runs through the spaces between the round gravel and into the perforated pipe at the bottom of the trench. Water then travels freely through the pipe, which empties a safe distance from the house. Depending on the situation, the water can be diverted to a low-lying area of the property, a drainage ditch, a dry well, or the street. If you live on a slope and have a persistently-wet basement or soggy lawn, a French drain could be a great solution.

Each property is unique, but if you’ve had persistent drainage issues, you’ll benefit from the opinion and expertise of a professional.

As things warm-up and we move into the dry season, it’s a great time to address fixing the drainage problems around your property and consider one of the solutions above.