Yard drainage problems can happen any time of year. During winter in North Texas, we get a little bit of everything from frigid icing conditions to warm spells and rain. This diverse climate can make keeping drainage consistent throughout the winter somewhat problematic. The consequences of poor drainage are far more than just aesthetic. A chronically wet outdoor environment directly impacts your house and can cause structural damage. It can also ruin expensive landscaping and damage driveways, retaining walls, and fences. Fortunately, you can solve most yard drainage problems if properly diagnosed and addressed by a drainage professional. Here are some of the major issues that typically affect homeowners and some of the options for resolving them.
Chronically wet areas due to yard drainage problems often occur around the immediate perimeter of the house. If this saturated area never dries, water can seep into tiny cracks and pores in the concrete foundation. It’s not a good scenario any time of year but can be particularly damaging in winter. When freezing temperatures strike, the moisture absorbed into the foundation freezes and expands, causing larger cracks. These openings admit still more water and the severity of damage to the foundation accelerates. Structural foundation damage is a serious matter and an expensive proposition to repair. Taking preventative measures ahead of time can help you avoid more costly repairs in the long run.
A French drain will take groundwater away from the perimeter of the house before it can infiltrate the foundation. A French drain consists of perforated PVC pipe buried in a gravel-filled ditch. Water takes the path of least resistance and percolates through the gravel and into the pipe. Drainage pipes are installed on a gentle slope and generally routed to a discharge point far away from the house such as a low-lying area of the property or out to the curb to flow into a storm sewer. To prevent foundation water damage, you should bury a French drain pipe about two feet deep in a gravel trench approximately eighteen inches wide. If you have a basement and water from yard drainage problems is infiltrating basement walls, you may have to bury the French drain as far as six feet underground to be effective.
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Two more ideas make sense to prevent foundation damage from water in winter. Grade the landscape around the perimeter of the house so water flows away and doesn’t pool next to the foundation. Also, keep your gutters clear of fallen leaves. During heavy rain or melting snow, clogged and overflowing gutters can lead to deeply saturated soil.
Chronically Soggy Spots
First, consider the topography of the yard. If the wet spot is also the lowest spot in the yard, regrading and/or adding additional soil to the low-lying area may be the most direct way of eliminating yard drainage problems. Perhaps the soil in that part of the yard is very clay-like and impermeable. In that event, it may be necessary to remove that soil to some depth and then replaced it with a more permeable type of soil in order make the area level with the rest of the yard.
A shallow yard drain, similar to a French drain, is another option. A four-inch pipe in a gravel trench a foot or so deep is sloped at a rate of 1/8 inch per foot to provide adequate gravity flow to a proper discharge point. If there’s no good option to discharge water without creating another soggy spot, you can install a gravel-bottom dry well several feet in the ground. Water flowing from the drain pipe fills the well and then gradually soaks through the gravel into deeper soil.