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What are the Different Types of Lawn Drainage?

By Kerrie Main
Updated May 16, 2024
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When houses are located in low-lying or flat areas, homeowners might need to install some type of lawn drainage to prevent flooding, standing water and damage to the home’s foundation. There are many types of lawn drainage systems, and many houses already have built-in systems. If the house doesn’t have a natural method of removing water from the yard, such as drainage slopes or drainage ditches, the homeowner might consider installing French drains, channel drains or an underground drainage system.

Many homes already have lawn drainage features such as slopes and ditches. Drainage slopes can be paved or landscaped. For paved slopes, the ideal minimum slope is 1 percent. Slopes that are landscaped, or turfed, should have a minimum of a 2 percent slope. These slopes naturally move excess rainwater and drainage away from the home and out of the yard. Drainage ditches are known to play a major role in agricultural systems worldwide and basically are trenches that gather excess water.

French drains typically are perforated drainpipes wrapped in landscaping material. They can be covered with grass or rocks, and they usually blend in with the yard. Some homeowners prefer this type of lawn drainage when they have raised flowerbeds or large planters in the yard. One of the benefits of this type of drainage system is that the pipe is protected and separated from soil and roots. This helps prevent damage to the pipe and helps block water from saturating the grass and planting roots.

Another common type of lawn drainage system is the channel drain. This type of drainage tool usually is installed directly into concrete and into an underground pipe system. There typically is a grate on top of the channel drain to avoid having yard debris, such as grass and leaves, clog the channel. Many homes with pools utilize this type of drain to avoid problems with pool overflow.

Some homeowners install complete underground drainage systems when they have had repeated problems with flooding and surface water in the yard. This type of lawn drainage method usually has lateral pipes connected to channel drains, downspouts and area drains. This is one of the most complex types of drainage systems, and it helps to ensure that the entire yard drains away from the house properly. People who choose this type of drainage must be careful to make sure the pipes are set up to flow downward and as far away from the house as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On May 10, 2013

@croydon - Frankly, I'd rather not have a lawn in the first place. I wish that putting down lawn turf wasn't such an ingrained expectation for people in the suburbs.

It's such a high maintenance option and it does nothing for the environment, or for anything else, unless there are kids who want to play on it (in which case, the better option is to have a local park where everyone can play).

You're much better off with a vegetable garden, or even a little grove of trees, or a garden that doesn't need a lot of rain. So many cities are facing water shortages these days, having a lawn seems like such a waste.

By croydon — On May 09, 2013

@Ana1234 - A pond can be charming, but most of the time, if a lawn has a soggy spot, it won't be big enough to make a proper one and they'll only be able to get away with a small one which will still need to have the land around it drained.

Poor lawn drainage can lead to all kinds of problems if it isn't dealt with properly.

By Ana1234 — On May 08, 2013

Something to consider instead of putting in a drainage pipe is to take advantage of the natural features of your landscape by putting in a pond instead.

We did this when I was growing up and it was my favorite place in the garden. We were always fascinated by the little frogs and other things that ended up in our pond.

The only thing is you have to do it properly and make sure that it's not going to become too mucky, or it will start to smell. Read up on how to put one in properly, don't just dig a hole and hope for the best.

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