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You Can Count On Your Local U.S. Lawns To Keep Your Landscape Safe By Addressing Drainage Issues Head-on

Water is such a vital element to all living beings, and this of course, includes all varieties of greenery. But we’ve all seen the incredible destructive force water can have, too. The good news is that if you’re responsible for maintaining a commercial landscape in the United States, you can count on your local U.S. Lawns landscaping professionals to keep your landscape safe by addressing any drainage issues head-on. 

Since this is such an important topic, we decided to ask our own irrigation and landscape drainage experts to give us more information. So, we had an enlightening conversation with U.S. Lawns Twin Falls managers Abel Garza and Javi Garza, both of whom have long experience and a lot of wisdom to pass on.

Poor Landscape Drainage Can Create Big Problems

First, let’s briefly examine the issues that poor landscape drainage can create. 

  • Flooding – the most obvious problem that comes out of the ground’s inability to absorb water is the resulting flooding that takes place. Since we’ve all seen the tragic loss and ruin caused by floods, it only makes sense to take preventative measures which are worthwhile and ultimately, a lot less costly than rebuilding and replacing in the aftermath of a flood. 
  • Soil Erosion – which is the gradual loss of soil caused by a variety of agents, including fast running water and strong winds. There are a number of issues with erosion such as:
    • Exposing roots of trees, shrubs and other plants, which can compromise the health and longevity of your flora, not to mention putting your property at risk from toppling trees.
    • Removing necessary nutrients from the soil, which can also adversely impact plant health.
    • Filling waterways with silt and sediment, which leads to major flooding.

Factors That Contribute To The Ground’s Ability To Absorb Water 

The soil type strongly influences the ground’s ability to absorb water, which Abel simplified with this: “If you have a sandy soil, you can get away with watering a little bit more; but if you have more of a clay soil you have to do more of a cycling soak because the water just puddles on top and that’ll cause more runoff and possibly more erosion in the area.” This means determining your soil type is a critical step to preventing and eliminating drainage problems. 

Another big factor that commonly contributes to drainage issues is sloped terrain, which Abel says their team would address by:

  • Creating barriers.
  • Planning the watering schedule according to how steep the slopes are, while taking into account how quickly the soil is able to soak in the water. 

Now once the soil type is identified and the problem areas have been mapped out, what are the best ways to address your landscape drainage challenges?

Solutions For Improving Landscape Drainage

Abel’s first recommendation is to install a French Drain system which, as he so perfectly articulated, “is a pipe with multiple perforations through it which is normally buried a foot or two underneath the ground. You prep it with pea gravel and wrap special material around the pipe to filter out any silt or sand, which then allows the water to drain more quickly into the ground and away from the area to prevent erosion.”

In the Twin Falls Idaho region, as well as many others in the nation, the French drain systems are routed to mandated retention ponds, which have proven to be quite effective in areas prone to flooding.

There are also other types of landscape drains, including:

  • Channel (aka Trench) Drains – which are long, narrow drains installed on hard surfaces like parking lots, walkways and around swimming pools to keep water from puddling by collecting it and then directing it into the drainage system. 
  • Dry Creek Beds – which are streams made using rocks, boulders, and often native flora. This option is one of Javi’s preferred methods for adding visual interest to a property while correcting drainage issues at the same time. 
  • Natural Rain Gardens – these are another great way to beautify and control runoff, by planting a garden composed of native shrubs, grasses and flowers that are tolerant to both periods of standing water as well as drought conditions, so they’ll thrive while acting as a filter and absorbing excess water at the same time. 
  • Dry Wells – which, like French drains are surrounded by gravel and geotextile fabric, and are basically just perforated, 50-gallon tanks that are buried in the ground. They collect the water which then percolates back into the ground.  

Other Key Actions To Protect Your Assets From Water

Now, in addition to preventing water from pooling, redirecting runoff and capturing excess water to eliminate flooding, Javi Garza gave us a few examples of additional actions that will make a difference:

Add A Retaining Wall – Javi expanded on this idea with, “Where there are slopes, such as in the case of a project I had a while back where rock constantly kept rolling off the slope when the irrigation came on. We corrected this by building a retention wall there to hold the landscape in place. Now water runs through without dragging the rocks along with it.” 

This is a good time to mention that adding a retaining wall to your property is doubly advantageous since it can also provide a good place for people to sit and enjoy your grounds. 

Install Tree Rings – Javi continued with another meaningful recommendation, saying: “When we’ve got trees that are too close to a slope I like putting tree rings around them; that way, whenever you get water, it will hold it in place, so your tree still gets watered, and it doesn’t create erosion where roots start getting exposed on the side of the slope.” This simple action can help to ensure your trees remain strong and healthy for many long years. 

Keep Landscape Drains Clear Of Debris – His next suggestion is a major one that people don’t always give a lot of attention to, and that is to make sure all your landscape drains are clear of refuse and organic debris like sticks and leaves. This simple service is crucial, because clogged drains can lead to flooded grounds, costly damage to hardscape and softscape elements, and even cracked foundations and floodwater infiltrating buildings, homes and other structures. 

And, in support of this effort, Abel further recommends that you have your drainage systems flushed out every three years, to ensure there are no major blockages that would prevent them from flowing correctly.

Be Prepared For Snowmelt – Javi also mentioned the problems that can arise from heavy snowmelt, which not only goes back to keeping landscape drains cleared of debris, but also requires planning ahead with your snow removal services provider. 

Protect Your Assets By Planning For Unforeseen Events 

Advanced planning makes everything easier, because the team snowplowing your parking lots will be a lot more efficient if they know the locations of speedbumps, where the curbs start curving, and the placement of hardscape and softscape features they’ll need to avoid with plows and shovels once they’re concealed under the snow. 

They also need to know where the drains are located, so they can pile snow near enough to melt off and drain away but not so close that the packed snow completely stops drainage or melts just enough to create an ice barrier that blocks the drain and then forms expansive ice sheets. In short, making sure the snowmelt has a good exit can minimize flood risks in addition to the fall hazards associated with slippery surfaces.

Be Creative With Your Landscape Drainage Solutions

As we concluded our visit about landscape drainage, Javi had some final sage advice which is simply this: “If you want things to be nice, don’t be scared to get creative; if you have slopes and hills it’s fine, but it’s better to be designed to the point where you can create some sort of stream, because you never know when you’ll get a sudden thunderstorm, a lot of rainfall or any other issue, so you need to plan for unforeseen events.” In other words, adding a dry creek bed could be just the thing to enhance your landscape while addressing potential drainage problems. 

So, if you’re ready to learn more about adding a dry creek bed, installing a French drain system or discovering another drainage solution for your landscape, get in touch with your local U.S. Lawns landscape improvement specialists today. We’re here to keep your commercial grounds safe, functional and beautiful!

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