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Finding a growing puddle of water around the perimeter of your home can be frustrating, especially when you have standing water in your yard and no rain to attribute it to. Leaving standing water in your yard can facilitate mold growth, lead to foundation issues, create a breeding ground for mosquitoes, cause lawn and landscaping problems such as grass and plant death, and prompt you to unintentionally track mud into the house.
The best thing you can do when you find your yard saturated with water is to take immediate action. Most fixes are fairly simple and can be completed in a day or over a weekend. Larger jobs may require a professional landscaper or specialized contractor.
Below are some of the most common causes of standing water in your yard:
If your home is equipped with an irrigation system and it’s used on a regular basis, you shouldn’t see standing water in your yard. If pools of water are present, you probably have a drainage problem and should consider watering your lawn less often or for shorter periods.
Yard leveling, also known as lawn grading, drains water away from your home and toward the street or a storm sewer. If the slope of your landscaping is at an improper angle, water can collect faster than it can drain. Improper drainage can also cause water to accumulate in natural low spots of your yard and could eventually seep into your basement.
Thatch is a layer of organic matter that builds up around the base of plants. If your lawn is covered in thatch and other excess debris, like grass clippings, leaves, and roots, it may be more difficult for water to drain. Remove all debris from the surface of your property to ensure proper water drainage.
Hard soil and sticky clay soils don’t allow water to soak into the ground past the surface, which causes excess water to accumulate. In particular, hard subsoil, also known as hardpan, is a thick layer of soil that doesn’t allow any water through. You may have this soil on your lawn from natural causes or as a result of construction equipment densely compacting the yard.
If a storm produces a large amount of rain over a short period, soggy conditions can arise as the yard becomes saturated with groundwater.
Once you know what’s causing the standing water in your garden or yard, take a look at these strategies to help you get rid of the excess water.
Professional landscapers can provide you with a survey of your lawn’s trouble spots, natural drains, and channels. After a survey is complete, they can address the areas that need re-grading. Re-grading your property around your home should be completed before addressing pooling water in other parts of your yard.
Clear your yard of any blanket debris that may be causing water not to drain properly. You can get rid of excess debris with a dethatcher or a simple lawn rake. You can also use a bag or mulch feature when you mow to decrease the chance of heavy debris patches.
Once you’ve removed debris, use a lawn aerator to place small holes in the surface of your lawn. This will break up compacted soil to allow nutrients, air, and water to reach the roots of your grass. The holes should be four inches deep and spaced two inches apart. If you don’t have an aerator, your local landscaping company should be able to provide this service.
If the hardpan is less than a couple of feet thick, you should be able to break up the soil with a garden shovel after it’s had time to dry out. This may be harder if the soil is covered with grass, in which case you may need to replace patches of your yard with new grass seed. If you can’t break up the hardpan completely, hire a professional contractor to drill through the soil for you.
If you have a plant bed around your house and landscape it with rocks or a raised artificial border, water from your home’s gutters can become trapped. To divert this water away from your house, simply extend your downspouts or sump pump drain pipe farther away from your home’s exterior—this should remediate the drainage issue.
If you have a hard time landscaping because of a high water table, you can create raised beds for your plants. Choose plants and flowers that are shallow-rooted—these have a higher chance of surviving standing water.
The purpose of a French drain is to direct water away from your home. It can be made inexpensively without a lot of materials or tools. Simply dig a trench to direct the water toward the perimeter of your property, preferably near a storm drain or dry well, a shallow trench that has deep holes with rocks for drainage.
When water is diverted to a dry well, the water can gradually drain into the surrounding soil. To increase the longevity of the dry well, insert a perforated plastic tub to hold the rocks (the plastic tub keeps out soil to maintain the drainage system efficiency).
Fill the trench with gravel and place a plastic perforated pipe at the trench’s base and let gravity do the rest.
If you need a French drain for your yard but don’t like how it looks, you can create a dry creek. A dry creek is a path of rock or gravel that diverts excess water into a storm drain or dry well. Don’t channel water toward your neighbor’s property or toward a public sidewalk—doing so could get you in legal trouble. Always divert your water toward a storm drain or dry well.
Problems with standing water in the yard can cause water to pool near your home’s foundation. It can cause cracks and remove the soil that supports the foundation, leading to fissures in your walls. Excess water from this seepage can also permeate through the concrete walls in your basement, leading to water damage.
There are several ways to divert water from your foundation:
If you see standing water in your yard, don’t ignore it. The longer you wait, the more expensive the repairs will be. Do your best to identify the cause and if you’re not sure what’s causing the standing water, call a local landscaper or contractor who specializes in removing standing water.
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