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How to prevent spring flooding

Posted on: February 15, 2012

It might seem like it’s early to be talking about spring, but if your backyard and basement flood every time the temperatures warm up, now is the perfect time to think about how to prevent this. Early spring is the worst time for backyard flooding – not only do you have to deal with spring rain on top of melting snow, but many yards in the Maryland and Washington, DC area are poorly graded, meaning puddles form easily and can sit there for days. That soggy, uneven ground can spell havoc for your plants and lawn before seeping through the cracks in your home’s foundation and causing basement flooding. So how do you keep this from happening?

Gutters: Your First Line of Defense

The first thing you should do to prevent backyard flooding is make sure your gutters are in good shape. A good gutter system should be more than just a gutter and downspout – in fact, these can actually end up compounding drainage problems by concentrating drainage in one area in your yard. Instead, have a plumber add rain leader drains to carry water at least 10ft away from your home’s foundation.

If your gutters are causing water to splash against your home’s foundation, you can install a collection system at your roof’s drip line. A collection system consists of a perforated pipe placed in a V-shaped trench. The trench should be lined with thick plastic and pitched toward a drywell or outlet pipe. The pipe can then be covered with landscape fabric and buried under stones to keep dirt out while allowing water to seep in.

Install a Drainage System

Once you’ve got your gutters straightened out, there are a few different types of drainage systems you can install in your yard to prevent backyard flooding. The most common types are surface drainage and subsurface drainage systems. In addition to factors including your yard configuration and the amount of rainfall you see, the type of yard you have will determine which type of system you should use:

  • Surface drainage systems – best suited for yards with clay-based soils
  • Subsurface drainage systems – best suited for yards with high sand or silt content

Surface drainage systems are designed to remove water that collects on the top of the soil. They typically consist of shallow open trenches that lead to dry wells emptying into a deep runoff trench in the lowest corner of the yard. Open trenches are the most effective means of carrying excess water from the ground’s surface and preventing it from puddling in the yard. Subsurface drainage systems consist of several French drains that carry water away from poorly drained areas via a series of collection pipes all linked to a deep runoff trench.

Regrading Your Yard to Prevent Backyard Flooding

If you want to bring out the big guns to help prevent spring flooding, there’s another technique you can use: regrading your yard so puddles can’t form in the first place. While this sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing to do is make sure the 10ft of ground closest to your home slopes down at least six inches – this will keep water from seeing into your basement or flooding foundation plantings. Note: if you have wood siding, make sure you keep soil at least eight inches away from your home to prevent wood rot and insect infestation. For the rest of your yard, regrade at least one inch of slope for every five feet of turf.

Improving your backyard drainage can go a long way in preventing backyard flooding and, even more important, preventing basement flooding. In addition to these considerations, we also recommend you have a sump pump installed in your home to remove any water that gets in. If you need sump pump installation or testing in Maryland or Washington, DC, call James A. Wheat & Sons today!