What Is Landscape Drainage and what are the types? ANSWERED

The term landscape drainage may have come up in a variety of contexts. It could be when purchasing a new home or when dealing with drainage issues in your yard, such as water buildup. The question, “What is landscape drainage?” may then cross your mind.

Understanding how that system functions will help you make better decisions about it both now and in the future. You should also learn about its benefits and the drawbacks that may arise if it fails to operate.

We’ll take you on a quick tour to give you the overview you’ve been looking for. We’ll also go over the main landscape drainage systems available in the US, so let’s begin!

What Is Landscape Drainage?

Simply put, landscape drainage is a system that helps in getting rid of excess water such as that caused by rain. The direction in which the runoff is transferred is determined by the type of drainage you have.

For example, some types channel and disperse the water into the soil. Whereas, other types direct the water flow to an outlet located far from the house.

No matter what type of slope or soil the house was built on, all homes require a landscape drainage system.

To explain, if your home was constructed with a slope leading up to it, water will collect on its foundation.

If the slope is more outward, water will glide along, disrupting the soil along the way. Even if your house is built on flat land, water will have nowhere to go and will form puddles. Thus, constructing a route for water flow is essential.

Why Is Proper Landscape Drainage Important?

The step of installing, or revamping, your landscape drainage when it’s performing poorly is a must. It’ll not only protect the lushness of your backyard but also shields the structure of your home.

Here are three major reasons why a properly functioning drainage system is vital:

Protects Your Home Foundation

To begin with, concrete is porous, which means that water can easily access your home’s foundation. If your foundation is regularly exposed to water accumulation, it’ll eventually develop cracks. Cracks are, by definition, the beginning of severe structural damage.

If you have clay soil, this can be even more concerning. When clay soil is exposed to water, it absorbs it and expands in size. It shrinks back when it dries out. If it’s constantly saturated with water, it’ll stay swollen.

This puts pressure on your house’s foundation, creating a force that pushes it upwards. Subsequently, the structural stability of your home gets seriously jeopardized.

Maintains Soil quality

Rain and snowmelt can be extremely damaging to your soil. Soil erosion can occur if runoff isn’t directed away from the soil. When this happens, the soil loses its fertility and is unable to retain water or nutrients for plant growth.

Soil erosion is caused by water displacing soil particles, and the more water flows, the more soil is washed away.

Eliminates the Risks of Standing Water

Standing water invites a slew of complications. Moisture attracts a lot of unwanted guests, a.k.a bugs, bacteria, and rodents. Aside from that, there are two major problems associated with standing water:

Termites Infestation

One of the leading factors that draw termites to your backyard is moisture. The more they find consistent levels of moisture, the more likely they are to establish a colony in your yard.

While dead wood is termites’ primary food source, this doesn’t mean that the other plants are safe. Termites can cause root and stem damage to crops, trees, and even fruits.

Mold Formation

Mold can grow on your lawn if there’s an accumulation of water. This, in turn, gradually kills your grass’s roots. The damage will appear as several brown patches on your turf.

What’s more, standing water can leak into your foundation through tiny cracks and cause mold growth. Even the basement walls become susceptible to mold development.

This can easily happen given how quickly mold develops. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), mold grows within 24-48 hours of water exposure. Unless you take action to stop it, it’ll continue to grow.

What Are the Different Types of Landscape Drainage?

Now let’s go over the three main types of landscape drainage systems:

Gutter Systems

Gutter systems are primarily made up of two components:

-Gutter channels


The gutter channels are installed horizontally on the roof edges of your home to collect runoff. The water is then transferred to the ground via a vertical pipe, the downspout.

How the water is eventually disposed of varies from one person to another. Some people install rain barrels at the end of downspouts to collect water. Others connect it to an underground drainage system, and so on.

We have discussed how to install gutters here.

French Drains

The drainage concept of French drains is simple but very effective. In fact, some DIYers take on the project of building one themselves. In a nutshell, we dig trenches in the ground where water frequently accumulates. This trench ends with a downward slope at a municipal sewer system or other drainage areas.

Inside this trench, there’s a perforated pipe wrapped in water-permeable fabric and covered in lots of stone and gravel. All of these components contribute to water streams flowing easily and steadily away from your yard.

Dry Wells

A dry well is buried in the ground and is linked to a downspout by underground pipes. They basically collect all of the runoff from the gutter system. Like French drains, most dry wells are covered with stone and gravel.

The layers of gravel in a dry well help water disperse slowly and gradually into the soil, preventing it from becoming oversaturated. However, dry wells aren’t appropriate for every household.

Before installing one, you should first assess the infiltration rate of your soil. This is to determine the soil’s level of water retention. You see, high rates, as we discussed earlier in the case of clay, can be damaging.

In Brief

What is landscape drainage? It’s what keeps the grass greener on the other side! Landscape drainage systems are key aspects for protecting your yard and house foundation.

We have discussed how wastewater is processed here.

In case you plan to upgrade or install a new system, make sure it’s suitable for your soil. If you have one that’s working fine, make sure to keep up with its maintenance to keep it that way.