If puddles hang around for days in your garden after raining, then you know you have a serious drainage problem. Building garden drainage solutions are often overlooked until it’s too late. Don’t wait until your plants have drowned to work on building adequate drainage. You have quite a few options depending on the type and size of your garden.
Puddling can lead to various problems for your plants. For starters, too much water can kill a plant in time. Second, the sitting water becomes a breeding ground for certain diseases that will quickly kill any plant life.
It could also become a breeding ground for pests that want to feast on the leaves. Luckily, building garden drainage solutions isn’t that difficult of a task. The first step is to determine the proper solution for your garden.
Redirecting Water Flow.
This is by far the most common method for building a drainage solution. It’s the same technique used to build drainage for some houses and buildings. For example, if your garage is flooding after a serious rainfall, then you’ll likely go out into the yard and build a trench to redirect the water flow down and away from the garage. It’s a fairly simple concept.
This method is simple enough that all you really need is a shovel. Of course, you might find that to be extremely labor intensive work. You can use more modern tools and equipment to make the job of digging the trench much easier.
The goal is to dig diversion channels from the garden that head downhill and into other non-important areas. You definitely don’t want to dig a channel that leads back to your garage, to another part of the lawn, or into the neighbor’s lawn. The best option is to dig a channel that leads out into the street. You could also dig a channel that leads directly towards a nearby storm drain.
Digging A Hole.
There are some cases where running the channel to the street might not be possible. Your garden could be located quite a ways from a street or storm drain. What are your options then? That’s where gravel comes into play.
Step one is to fill the channel with crushed gravel or pebbles. The gravel helps the water flow and supports the channel’s structure. It’s important to use gravel and not crushed limestone because the limestone could become like cement and ruin the water flow.
Step two is to dig a large hole somewhere in the yard. This is where the channel will dump all of the water. Fill the hole with gravel as well and make sure that the channel is routed downhill to the hole. Finally, you can cover the top of the hole and the channel with gravel. It will still do its job if routed properly from the garden.
One factor to keep in mind if you are digging the channel towards the street is the effect of fertilizer on the environment. Fertilizer can harm wildlife that lives in the streams where storm drains disperse. It’s best to use as little fertilizer as possible to reduce the impact on the environment.
Using Pipes Instead.
The method mentioned above is very similar to old French drain systems. They don’t require the use of any sort of pipes but take a bit longer to dig and fill with gravel. A slightly easier alternative is to use perforated plastic pipes. Drainage pipes are steadily becoming more common as they are becoming cheaper and easier to install.
The first step for installing these pipes is digging the trench. This is the hardest part of it all, but the trench doesn’t need to be as big as the one you might dig for the french drain system. The trench should be at least twice as wide as the pipe and deep enough so that the pipe can be buried beneath the frost line. It won’t help much if the pipe completely freezes during the winter time.
As with the previous option, you could get away with using only a shovel. If you’re digging a very large and elaborate drainage system, then you might want to rent a backhoe for the day just to make the job easier.
The second step is to create the slope for the pipes. Water needs to be able to flow down to reach its destination, which often requires creating an artificial slope. You might not need to worry about this if you are digging the drainage system with the natural slope of your lawn, but this isn’t always the case.
An artificial slope is created with the help of wooden stakes. First, drive a stake into the ground where the pipe begins and then continue to nail in stakes every four feet. Attach a string to the stakes and lower it by half-an-inch on each stake towards the end of the slope. Finally, pack the dirt down into the trench so that it is level with the string. You can then remove the string and stakes to reveal a nice slope towards your destination.
Finally, add your pipes and then cover with dirt. It’s that simple.
Keep Your Garden Safe.
Building garden drainage solutions are fairly simple. You have a couple of different options to choose from and they both work equally well; one is just a bit easier. Just remember to check with local building codes to make sure you aren’t violating any local regulations.