Understanding Common Causes of Standing Water

DIY Solutions and When to Call the Experts

Standing water in the backyard can ruin your plants, destroy your grass, and lead to flooding in your basement. Standing water can also lead to foundation woes.  As a result, you should address your yard drainage as soon as possible. Some yard drainage solutions require a simple pipe or downspout repair that can be done within a few hours. Other problems require more in-depth assessment and help. Either way, Sitework Developing offers this information to help you start diagnosing the real source of your soggy yard blues, so you can apply the right fix.

yellow lab lays in standing muddy water in Beachwood Ohio home with poor drainageIn order to fix standing water in your backyard, you need to know the cause(s) of it.

After all, different causes require different drainage solutions. In our experience, the following culprits commonly cause water to stick around where it’s not wanted.

  • Short downspouts: A downspout is the vertical part of the gutter that moves water from the roof down to the ground. It then sends the water away from the house and foundation. If your downspouts are too short–or not correctly connected–the water cannot reach its end destination away from your home’s foundation. Instead, it gathers right at the bottom of the gutter, causing large pools of water that don’t drain around your home’s foundation.
  • Misplaced gutters: Misplaced gutters happen when we get a lot of rain, snow, and wind like we usually do in these harsh Ohio winters! The weather elements loosen the gutters and move them around. This makes gutters point in the same direction, forcing all the water to dump in the same spot instead of evenly spreading the way it should.
  • Runoff erosion: As a result of short downspouts or misplaced gutters, excessive water erodes the soil and land where the water drains. When this happens, not enough soil remains to absorb and disperse the water. Instead, it gathers and steadily pools up into standing water.
  • Soil Type: Poorly draining soil may cause water to pool at the surface instead of absorbing it.
  • Uneven yard slopes: Proper landscaping and lawn grading should cause water to drain away from the house and yard. If the job was done poorly, however, water will stay in the yard, gathering pools in unwanted places. Depending on the direction of the slope, it could even run toward the house, endangering your home’s foundation or your basement.

What You Can Do to Reduce Standing Water

Luckily, there are simple ways for homeowners to keep water away from their foundation to help with yard drainage.

Don’t cover the sides of your house with dirt, gravel, or overgrown landscaping. 

These should slope away from the house so the water can’t seep into your walls and basement. There is a science behind the landscaping of your house and the foundation of your home and yard. Water is designed to move away from the house. If gravel or any kind of debris pushes the water back toward your house, it can erode the walls and foundation and lead to mold and flooding.

To prevent this, you can measure your land grade with a basic level tool. Make it your goal to gradually lower the level of the soil by one inch per foot away from the house. The level at the house should be about four inches higher than the level four feet away. You do this yourself with a shovel and a level. The work isn’t fun, but it will keep your foundation from sinking and you will save yourself from settlement problems in the future.

Consider installing a rain garden.

If there’s just one uneven section of your land, you can build a rain garden to solve the problem. A rain garden is a gathering of plants that need a lot of water to thrive. You can fill up this slanted area with ferns, cattail, irises, and many other moisture-loving plants. The rain garden will make use of the excess standing water in your yard by soaking it up and preventing it from spreading to your other landscaping or your home’s foundation. This will save you the trouble of having to regrade your yard just because of one problematic area.

exposed water drainage underground pipes at Beachwood Ohio homeKnow your yard’s drainage routes, so you can plan your landscaping appropriately.

How do you check your drainage routes? Find out where your underground pipes are! Once you’ve found them, make sure they’re not blocked by tree roots, bushes, or flowers. Large stones can block the water by making a mini dam that stops it from flowing off your property. Tree roots tend to wrap around your drainage pipes, either squeezing off the flow or swelling to create a “bump in the road” for your water flow.

Where are your drains discharging? If you are having trouble directing the drain to a place where water doesn’t collect, you can make a small gravel bed for the discharge. That will absorb the water and keep it from releasing too much into the soil. You may also think about installing a creek bed. To do this, find the water trail where the drainage is resting. Dig a trench along that trail, and “pad” it with gravel or stones that can absorb the water and keep it from seeping deep into the soil. Some people collect the extra water for water harvesting, as a way to save money on water bills and recycle their natural resources.

When You Need an Expert

Sometimes drainage solutions are not as simple as a DIY quick-fix. When there are structural issues on a residential or commercial property, they need to be addressed on a professional level. Below are yard drainage issues that require help that is beyond most homeowners’ capabilities.

  • Patios, driveways, and walkways with slope or structural problems: If any of these tilt in the wrong direction, repairs will need to be made.  For instance, you may need to remove and reinstall pathways made of brick or stone, or you may need to call a concrete leveler to repair sidewalks and drives. The end goal is for the platforms to slope away from the house, not towards it.
  • Yards that are poorly or incorrectly graded: A yard that has undergone erosion or was not set up the right way the first time will need to be graded. The process involves rough grading and finish grading. With rough grading, we can establish the right composition for drainage. You need to make sure these issues never come back again. For finish grading,  we add and remove soil in necessary places, clean up debris, and compact all the materials to make the land firm and solid.
  • Insufficient or aging drainage system: If you recently remodeled your hour house or landscaping, then your old drainage system may not be adequate to do the trick. You may not know this, but different pipe materials have different life spans. If your house is older, the material may have gotten warped.

It’s often difficult for homeowners to know if their drainage system is not working the way it should.

Unless you want to dig deep trenches under your house and property, it’s impossible to check some of these hidden, underground pipes. Our foundation repair specialists have the right equipment to diagnose these issues. We use camera snaking, smoke tests, and other top-of-the-line equipment to find out exactly what is causing your drainage problems and solve the problem.

Why you don’t want to ignore your soggy yard

During the rainy season, some standing puddles of water in your yard may not look like a big problem. After all, they will go away when the rain goes away, right? Unfortunately, standing water doesn’t always work that way. Left untreated, these puddles can lead to an unsettled foundation, damage to your yard’s landscaping, and most of all, unwanted pests. Large baths of water are a welcoming invitation to insects like mosquitoes, other biting insects, and even rodents and termites. Ants and termite nest and thrive in damp areas, while bodies of water make a convenient water source for rats and mice. If you notice standing water in your yard that lasts longer than a couple of hours after a rainstorm, it may be time to take preventative measures.

When to Call For Help and Get Professional Yard Drainage Solutions

Try detecting the source of your surplus of water in the yard, and follow our basic steps for yard drainage maintenance. If your soggy backyard persists, it is time to call professional help. When you don’t know how to fix yard drainage and the problem doesn’t get solved right away, you can end up with flooding and serious damage. At Sitework Developing, we are proud of our team of professionals that are trained to deal with drainage dilemmas in a no-nonsense way. Schedule a consultation with us and we will take care of the problem in no time. Contact us for an on-site evaluation.