Drainage systems for the Santa Barbara landscape
There is perhaps nothing more prohibitive to spending time outside than a lawn that is squishy and wet. Hard to walk on and not fun to play in, a poorly drained backyard can be incredibly frustrating for the homeowner who enjoys being outdoors. Plants, too, suffer from too much moisture which can cut off the air supply to roots and lead to root rot, mold, and other diseases. Fortunately, local landscape companies can help with selecting the right yard drainage solution for every situation.
The following common problems can be remedied with appropriate drainage systems:
Excess hardscape runoff: Large, paved surfaces such as driveways and patios can contribute to increased moisture in gardens and lawns by “sheeting” rainwater in the direction of their pitch. If too much runoff from a paved area is creating problems in the softscape, a trench drain might be a critical component to the yard drainage system. Equipped to handle large volumes of water, a trench drain captures water as it flows off hardscape surfaces, diverting it into laterals that connect to the city storm system or an open body of water.
Waterlogged gardens: A low area of the landscape, particularly in the shade, can appear dank and musty. Plants reflect that sentiment as well, with yellowing leaves that are soft and limp or stunted in growth indicate that excess moisture is interfering with the breathability of the soil. Mold can also form, bringing with it a host of disease and pest problems. For the waterlogged garden, an area drain is effective in relieving beds of excess moisture, leaving the soil more amenable to plant growth. Like a trench drain, garden drainage structures such as a riverbed or drainage tile divert water to the storm system, but in the garden is designed to capture moisture at a low point with minimal disruption to the aesthetic.
Soggy lawn: With few plants for moisture uptake and often flat topography, lawns can fall victim to slow runoff and excess rainwater. Backyard drainage is possible by employing one or more types of yard drainage solutions. French drains, for instance, consist of a perforated drain pipe laid in a dug trench and surrounded with gravel to allow water to percolate from the lawn surface through to the pipe. An area drain connected to a catch basin too, can be efficient in diverting excess stormwater to municipal storm lines.
When discharge of stormwater into municipal storm lines or by daylighting into a waterway is prohibitive, either by law or the conditions present on the property, a dry well may be the answer to handling the captured runoff. A dry well is a simple solution for disposing of excess storm and graywater. Dry wells come in different forms—from manufactured containment structures to simple gravel pits deep in the ground—but their purpose is always to capture, contain, and slowly release excess water. The well is the end point for laterals and perforated pipes connecting to French drains, catch basin, and downspouts.
Structural means of conveying stormwater might be avoided with a well-designed swale, which is a gentle grassed or planted channel that uses gravity to divert water away from areas that need to stay dry. Even better, a rain garden at its terminus may be a sustainable method for keeping water on site by allowing water to collect and percolate. Plant specifically selected for a rain garden can be beautiful, and are typically amenable to a wide range of moisture conditions.
If you don’t have an eye for diagnosing and repairing garden and yard drainage problems—or even if you do—a Santa Barbara landscape professional can be your partner in determining the best methods for controlling and maintaining optimal moisture levels in your backyard.