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The Impact of Landscaping on Drainage: What You Need to Know


Landscaping choices greatly impact drainage and flooding at your home. Elements like plant selection, soil type, and yard grading can prevent or cause water issues. Learn tips on gardens, lawns, and terrain from landscapers and plumbers to promote drainage.

After heavy rains, does your yard flood or puddle with standing water? Do downspouts direct rain right beside your home’s foundation? Does your basement or crawlspace tend to get wet and muddy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your landscaping may contribute to drainage issues.

Many homeowners need to realise their landscaping choices play a major role in preventing or causing flooding and water damage. Everything from the slope of your lawn to the plants in garden beds affects how quickly water drains away from your home after spring rains or summer thunderstorms. Poor drainage damages your property and invites moisture into the house, fueling mould growth and rotting structural materials.

In this article, we’ll provide landscaping tips from professional landscapers and plumbers to control water flow on your property. With strategic grading, plant selection, gardens, tree placement, and permeable surfaces, you can improve drainage and keep your home high and dry through the wettest weather.

Read on to learn vital landscaping techniques to protect your foundation, prevent flooding headaches, and benefit your home’s health for years.

Ensure Proper Grading

The slope and contour of your lawn are crucial for directing water away from your home’s foundation. For proper runoff, ideal grading creates a slope of at least 6 inches.

Drainage Backyard

The ground should slope away from the house on all sides so water flows out into the yard and down toward municipal drain lines. Drainage swales and berms can also help channel water away from the property.

Signs you may need regrading include pooling water near the home, visible soil erosion, sinking walkways, or watery basements after storms. While grading seems straightforward, getting the contours and pitch of the slope just right takes skill. Hiring a professional landscaper is highly recommended to assess drainage issues and regrade areas to improve water flow and prevent flooding near your home’s exterior and foundation.

Understanding Strategic Plant Selection

Choosing the right plants can enhance or inhibit drainage in your yard. Deep-rooted, drought-tolerant native plants are ideal because they help absorb and filter runoff.

Avoid planting water-loving trees like willows, maples, and poplars over or near drainage lines, as their invasive roots often clog pipes. Also, skip thirsty shrubs like azaleas and rhododendrons near your home’s foundation.

Instead, landscape those areas with shallow-rooted plants like grasses, perennials, or ground cover. Group plants with similar water needs together in “hydrozones” to simplify irrigation.

Consider installing a rain garden planted with water-tolerant native species in low spots where runoff collects. A landscape designer can assess your existing plantings and suggest strategic selections and placement for plants that will improve drainage, conserve water, and thrive in your local climate.

Trees Backyaard

Native Australian Trees That Can Help Enhance Drainage

  • River Red Gum - Eucalyptus camaldulensis - Deep roots, drought tolerant
  • Lemon-scented Gum - Corymbia citriodora - Tolerates damp soil
  • Swamp Paperbark - Melaleuca ericifolia - Handles wet soils well
  • Silver Princess Gum - Eucalyptus caesia - Good for slopes, draws water from soil
  • Swamp Mahogany - Eucalyptus robusta - Roots absorb moisture from soil
  • Snow In Summer - Melaleuca linariifolia - Thrives in moist areas
  • Currawong - Acacia doratoxylon - Deep roots, grows near creeks/drainage lines
  • Black Sheoak - Allocasuarina littoralis - Tolerant to damp/boggy conditions
  • Wollemi Pine - Wollemia nobilis - Very drought hardy once established
  • Lemon-scented Tea Tree - Leptospermum petersonii - Tolerates periodic wet feet

Avoid planting invasive water-loving exotics like Willows, Maples, and Poplars near drainage areas. Select natives suited to periodic wet soils and zones where runoff collects to aid drainage. A landscape designer can help choose the best plants for your conditions.

The Link Between Trees and Drainage

Tree placement is key for good drainage. Avoid planting trees with spreading, shallow root systems too close to your home’s foundation or sewer lines.

Tree roots can easily invade and clog pipes, causing backups. Large trees should be at least 10 feet from your home, and smaller trees at least 5 feet. Choose deep-rooted trees like oaks, conifers, and some maples planted in areas away from plumbing lines.

Drainage Grass

If planted wisely, the deep roots can help absorb runoff. You should also install root barriers to deflect roots away from lines for existing trees near plumbing. Prune encroaching roots regularly, too.

If invasive roots have already entered your pipes, professional root removal services can see out the blockages to restore flow. You can use their drainage benefits with thoughtful tree selection and strategic placement to prevent plumbing damage.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are shallow landscaped depressions planted with water-tolerant native plants. They are often installed in low areas of the yard where runoff naturally collects.

The gardens are designed as bowl-shaped basins to temporarily hold and absorb rainwater runoff, allowing it to filter into the ground rather than pool gradually. Choose native plants for your rain garden, like ferns, grasses, sedges, and wildflowers that thrive in moist soil.

Install gravel or sand drainage at the bottom below the soil to facilitate infiltration into the ground. Rain gardens not only enhance drainage but also filter pollutants and provide habitat.

Position your rain garden at least 10 feet from the house foundation and slope away from any structures. With an attractive rain garden, you can effectively manage runoff while adding curb appeal.

Permeable Surfaces

Impermeable surfaces like concrete and asphalt block water absorption and contribute to runoff. Consider installing permeable pavers, gravel, porous concrete, and asphalt in driveways, patios, and walkways.

These materials allow rainwater to filter through the surface and penetrate the soil below, reducing runoff flow rate and volume. Ensure an uncompacted base layer of gravel below permeable surfaces for proper drainage.

Permeable options are more expensive upfront but pay off over time by reducing flooding and the need for drainage infrastructure. Also, limit paved areas overall and use organic mulch or native ground cover plants to absorb moisture. With the thoughtful design of hardscapes and softscapes, you can naturally use permeable surfaces to drain and divert water.

Smart Landscaping for Flood Protection

Proper drainage is crucial to keep your home dry and prevent flooding, moisture damage, and foundation issues. By understanding how elements like grading, plant selection, gardens, trees, and permeable surfaces impact water flow, you can make informed landscaping decisions that control drainage on your property.

Remember these best practices as you maintain and improve your yard’s design. Strategic landscaping tailored to enhance natural drainage patterns can make all the difference in protecting your home from the ravages of water damage.

If you’re noticing persistent drainage problems, contact Service First Plumbing for professional diagnosis and solutions. Our team has experience addressing drainage issues and can provide landscaping recommendations to improve water management on your property.

We also offer drainage system maintenance, sump pumps, French drains, and all plumbing services to keep your home’s water flowing properly inside and out. Don’t wait for the next big storm to reveal your property’s drainage flaws. Call Service First today to learn about custom landscaping strategies to optimise drainage and direct water safely away from your home.

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