For many of us, a house is the single largest investment we will ever make.
Be it a bungalow next to the ocean, a duplex in the city, or a ranch in the suburbs, every homeowner should be educated on the nuts and bolts of their abode and what it takes to keep them in tip-top shape.
You already know how important it is to maintain the interior of your home, but what about the space outside those four walls? Poor yard drainage can really take a toll on your foundation, roof, and entirety of the rest of your home. If you want to protect your home and your finances, do yourself a favor and make sure you have the proper drainage.
Considering Water When Buying A Home
Give it enough time and water can shape valleys, carve canyons, erode cliffs, and most importantly, wreak havoc on your home’s foundation. Proper drainage is essential for maintaining a healthy foundation, and without a good foundation, your entire home could be at risk.
Taking time to check for a couple key indicators could save you the trouble of an eroding or cracking foundation and the ensuing repair bill. First, check for wet soil near the foundation. If it has been some time since the last rainfall, lingering wet spots could indicate a lackluster drainage system. If it recently rained, some water should be expected - however, any large pools may still indicate that an update to your system is necessary.
Even in areas with less precipitation like Austin, one of your first questions when walking a property should be about its current irrigation systems. Understanding the existing set-up will help save time and money in the long run. Of particular importance is the presence of underground drains - be sure your real estate agent offers all the relevant details.
Common Drainage Issues and How to Fix Them
So far, it should be obvious that while it isn’t as exciting as putting in a pool or renovating the master bedroom, proper drainage is a crucial consideration when purchasing a new home. Whether or not your future will consist of high repair bills and soggy basements or of simplicity and savings often depends on a couple minutes of observation and diligence.
The good news is that yard drainage problems, even severe ones, can usually be fixed. There are a number of ways to address these problems, and each method has its pros and cons. Here are some fixes to consider when addressing a yard drainage problem on your property.
Assessing Your Existing Roof and Yard Drainage
With limited time and resources, the simplest way to upgrade your drainage system is to fix your gutters and downspouts. Oftentimes, gutters are blocked by debris from overhanging trees which can upset the balance of your drainage system and cause significant damage. It’s important to replace any substandard materials and to clear any debris.
Exercising caution when clearing gutters on the roof is a must. Additionally, investing in a metal roof can help water flow easily off your roof and into your gutter. Below are some tips for maintaining your gutters and downspouts.
- Look for wet spots and areas of standing water around the downspouts. They could be indications of poor drainage or blocked gutters.
- Go outside the next time it rains. Is the water flowing freely through the gutters and out the downspouts? If the water is not flowing, you need to find the blockage.
- Grab your ladder, or call a roofer to check your gutters and downspouts. Replace any broken sections to restore proper drainage.
- Keep trees trimmed to avoid fallen leaves. They could clog your gutters, especially in autumn when leaves are abundant.
If you don’t find any glaring issues after following these steps, think about extending the downspout so the water runs farther away from your home. It’s a simple improvement with no downside and is always a great place to start.
Using a Creek Bed or Rain Garden to Improve Drainage
Using a creek bed to channel water away from your home and foundation is a surefire way to improve your drainage systems. Creek beds are a simple landscaping trick that will redirect water to a garden, turning the headache of poor drainage into a beautiful back or front yard feature.
Following a substantial storm, assess how the water flows throughout your yard and identify the problem area that you want the creek bed to address.
- Dig a trench from the swampy area, ensuring that the water is channeled away from your home and yard.
- Use stone to fill in the area where the creek bed empties out. Monitor the stone and replace anything that washes.
- Pick a creek bed design that compliments the natural features of your yard, and you’ll have made valuable progress in solving your drainage issues with an aesthetically pleasing solution. Below are some examples of water friendly plants that would make a suitable addition to your rain garden:
- Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
- Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
- Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Blue star (Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’)
- River birch (Betula nigra)
- American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
- Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)
What About Rain Barrels?
You can also improve your gardening and enjoy cleaner laundry by installing some rain barrels. These uniquely designed barrels will catch the runoff from those sudden storms, and you can use the soft water for gardening, household cleaning and anything else you like. Installing a rain barrel is easy – just follow the steps outlined below.
- 1. Find the right size barrel.
- 2. Position the rain barrel directly below your downspout.
- 3. Utilize an extension to connect the downspout to the opening at the top of the rain barrel.
- 4. Open the valve at the bottom of the rain barrel to collect pure rainwater for your garden, laundry, and other household uses.
Drainpipes and French Drains
Similar to checking your downspout and gutters, installing a French Drain is another simple way to to elevate your systems and take care of pesky water issues - all it takes is a shovel and some determination.
Here are the steps you will need to take when installing that drainpipe:
- 1. Dig a downward sloping trench away from your home and yard.
- 2. Place the drainpipe into the trench, cover it with stone, then dump the soil back on top.
- 3. Observe the water flow next time it rains.
- 4. Maintain your French Drain and check for blockages and debris on a regular basis.
Subpar yard drainage is an often overlooked problem of the average homeowner. A damaged foundation can put your most precious investment at great risk, and taking it into consideration as a homebuyer or homeowner can save you a lot of time and resources.
This guest blog post was kindly written for us by Redfin.