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How To Improve Garden Drainage

Increased precipitation in the colder months of the year can soon become a real pain, leading to a flood of unwanted garden problems. 

Although you can’t do anything about preventing wintery weather, you can take steps to protect and preserve your lawns and landscaping. So, what should you look out for, what causes the problems and how can you prevent them? Read on below for our guide on how to improve garden drainage.

Spotting Drainage Problems

Things should be pretty apparent if you’ve got a drainage problem, as more often than not, the lawned area of your garden will be waterlogged. You should keep an eye out for: 

  • Whether the lawn squelches underfoot 
  • Sticky, thick layers of puddled soil on the surface of the lawn 
  • Sunken areas of grass
  • Long-term problems with grass yellowing and dying

If you’re still unsure, we recommend digging a 60cm deep hole in a central point of the garden and filling it with water. Return to the site after 4 hours and if the water has not drained away, you may have a problem with your drainage. 

What Causes Drainage Problems?

There are several issues with your garden that can lead to drainage issues, so it’s best that you investigate the route of the problem and take the appropriate action. In many instances, the fix may be simple enough to see to yourself, for other more complex issues, it’s recommended that you hire a professional. 

Causes of drainage problems include: 

  • Poorly prepared soil during the turfing and seeding of lawns 
  • Clay-heavy soils or soils that are heavily compacted
  • A garden positioned at the bottom of a hill or valley. This, coupled with a hard or compacted soil and excess rainwater, will mean that runoff from the surrounding areas will collect on your land due to poor drainage.
  • Poorly installed water features. Ponds, fountains and swimming pools that have been incorrectly installed can lead to waterlogging on your land, water features in surrounding properties may also affect your garden too. 
  • Loose guttering and downpipes. Poorly installed or loose connections in your home’s guttering can cause excess water to pour into your garden. This is likely to be concentrated in one area and can cause a fair bit of damage.

How to Fix Drainage Problems

So, you’ve identified an issue and singled out the cause, but how can you fix drainage problems? Thankfully, there are several fairly inexpensive and straight-forward solutions that can improve the drainage around your home. 

Tools Needed:

  • Underground Drainage Pipe
  • Soakaway Crates
  • Moss Killer
  • Fertiliser
  • Lawn Feed
  • Garden Fork

Keep Your Lawn Healthy

Sounds obvious, right? Though it often seems like a chore (especially in the colder months), keeping on top of your lawn goes a long way towards improving drainage in your garden. 

Here are a few handy tips on keeping a healthy lawn: 

  • Remove dead patches of grass and wet soils to prevent moss overtaking your lawn during the winter months. Should you already have moss, use a labelled moss killer to deal with the problem. 
  • Apply fertiliser to your lawn in spring, this will allow the grass to recover from any damage from the winter weather and replenish its root systems, which in turn aids with drainage.
  • When autumn hits, use a lawn feed which is phosphorus-rich to encourage root growth and improved drainage. 

Pricking or Slitting the Surface

A simple-yet-effective means of improving drainage is to prick or slit the ground’s surface to prevent waterlogging. Here are a few tips on treating your lawn: 

  • Spike the lawn every couple of years in the autumn, ahead of the generally wetter, colder months.
  • It’s best to prick or slit the lawn once excess water has eventually drained away, particularly if you’re using machinery. 
  • Specialist spiking tools are available from most DIY stores and garden centres, but a standard garden fork can be just as effective for smaller lawns. 
  • For larger lawns, we would recommend using powered tools, such as a hollow tine aerator.
  • Shallow, 1-inch holes will alleviate waterlogging and help matters, but deeper spiking of 4 to 6-inch is recommended. These holes are able to be filled with lawn top dressing or horticultural sand to improve drainage. 

Installing Drainage Systems 

Of course, the most effective means of improving your drainage overall and preventing persisting problems is to install a drainage system.

Installing the likes of underground drainage and soakaway crates is cost-effective, efficient and aids in collecting and transporting any excess water away from your property. The inclusion of drainage channels in landscaping lessens the threat of drainage issues as well as any potentially more serious structural damage to your home.

Step 1 – Dig A Trench

Start by digging a trench where the underground pipe is to be placed. Ensure the trench is 1 to 2 inches wider than the piping. 

Step 2 – Add Gravel

Add gravel to the bottom of the trench. A couple of inches is all you should need. 

Step 3 – Lay The Pipes

Lay the piping on top of the gravel in the trench. Connecting the parts as required.

Step 4 – Seal The Joints

Make sure the pipe joints are sealed. You could also use roofing paper to cover the pipes and keep protected from damage.

Step 5 – Fill The Trench

Fill the rest of the trench with gravel. Ensure gaps are filled in and add topsoil up to the surface of the trench. 

If you require any more information on guttering or drainage, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team. You may be interested in reading our guide on how to remove standing water from patios and paved areas around the home or our ACO drain installation guide.

For more handy how to’s, browse the BC Profiles help and advice page.

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