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How to Improve Lawn Drainage: 6 Tips to Prevent a Soggy Yard

Green field. Puddle on the field. Yard drainage issue.

Picture this: a fresh snowfall blankets your lawn as flakes slowly drift from the sky. Your kids immediately want to go outside and make snowmen and sled with their friends. It’s the perfect winter day, and for once the Michigan cold doesn’t seem so bad. 

But then temperatures rise above freezing. Icicles start to drip, and snowmen start to shrink. As spring gets closer, weathermen forecast April showers. When you look at your lawn, you don’t see a beautiful winter landscape—you see a soggy, muddy marsh. 

Lawn drainage is the last thing that many homeowners think about when it comes to their yard, but it’s one of the most important factors that keep your grass—and your family—healthy. Not only is standing water in your lawn unsightly and harmful to your grass, but it can also be unhealthy. It becomes a breeding ground for biting insects in the summer. Combine stagnant water with the hot sun and you also get mold spores and other harmful bacteria. Poor drainage can also wreak havoc on your home’s foundation if left unchecked. 

Now is the time to improve your lawn drainage—no matter the season, it’s great to prepare for the next snow melt or summer storm. Get ahead of drainage problems with six tips to keep your lawn healthy no matter what the weather brings. 

What is Lawn Drainage?

Lawn drainage is any water that isn’t properly drained out of the soil. A well-drained lawn gets the right amount of water at the right time. A poorly-drained lawn gets lots of puddles and pools of water. 

Drainage can come from rain, snow, sprinkler systems, nearby bodies of water, and more. To keep your family healthy and your lawn beautiful, you’ll want a drainage system that allows water to drain from your lawn to prevent flooding or standing water. For some homeowners, drainage is more of a problem because of their location. Areas with a lot of clay soil, which doesn’t absorb water, see more drainage issues, as do homes with low-lying foundations. Fortunately, it’s always possible to find a drainage solution that works with your yard. 

Signs You Need Better Drainage

The signs that your lawn needs better drainage can be obvious, like standing puddles that hang around in your lawn long after the snow has melted or a storm has passed. But be on the lookout for other signs water is wreaking havoc on your yard—and your home: 

  • Spots of dead or dying grass. Yellow or brown patches in your lawn can be a sign that water is hanging around for too long and killing your grass. 
  • Cracks in your foundation or pavement. If you find more cracks on your sidewalks or in your foundation, that might mean that too much water is moving the soil around your foundation, causing parts of it to slide. 
  • Pests. See more biting insects like mosquitoes around in the summer? Warm, stagnant puddles are perfect places for pests to lay their eggs. 
  • Mold. Sometimes standing water can even make your lawn stink. Mold and bacteria that grow in standing water can cause a bad odor and a health hazard—you won’t want your kids splashing around in those puddles! 

These and other issues can lead to damage to your home and your yard if kept unchecked. If you’re seeing any of these signs on your lawn, it’s time to improve your drainage system. Luckily, many of these issues will resolve once you have an effective method of removing standing water from your lawn. 

6 Tips to Improve Your Lawn’s Drainage System

At Torchwood Landscaping, we want our clients to have healthy yards they can enjoy year-round. Below are a few simple tips to help you improve your lawn’s drainage system. 

Aerate Your Lawn 

Aerating your lawn is the process of creating holes in the topsoil. These allow for more air and nutrients to enter the soil. Excess water will drain into these holes instead of standing on top of the dirt. If your grass is damaged from standing water, aerating your lawn can also help enrich the soil and bring it back to full health. 

However, aerating your lawn can be time-consuming. Most homeowners will use a manual core aerator, which is about the size of a manual lawnmower. Depending on the size of your yard, aerating the whole thing might take some time. 

Consider Top Dressing

Similar to aerating your lawn, top dressing is applying a thin layer of soil (or other organic material, like manure or compost) to your grass. This adds extra absorbency and nutrients to your lawn and acts as a course correction for excess water. This is a great method to use if you plan on planting more grass as well. However, like aeration, top dressing can take a lot of time, and depending on the root cause of your drainage issue, it might not always be effective. 

Bury Your Gutter Downspouts

Summer shower. A strong stream of water flows out of the downspout drainpipe in the yardGutters are incredibly helpful tools that every homeowner should have—they protect your roof and your home from water damage. However, runoff water from gutter downspouts can easily flood your lawn, especially after a thaw or a thunderstorm. This is an easy job for a landscaper to do for you! Keep in mind that burying your downspouts might not fully prevent flooding in your lawn. Depending on your drainage issues, you might need a little bit of extra help. 

Create A Water Garden

Colorful Koi fish in a rock edged stream lined with trees and flowers - selected focus. Water garden to help yard drainage.Adding a water feature to your yard can help prevent the rest of your lawn from flooding! Creating a pond or decorative pool at a lower level from your lawn can contain excess water easily. Plus, you can add beautiful flowers, plants, and fish to add an extra touch to your landscape. This solution isn’t necessarily the most cost-effective, but it is a creative way to direct water away from your grass. 

Install A French Drain

Installing a french drain to help with yard drainage. When you think of lawn drains, you might think of an eyesore in the middle of your lawn. However, French drains tend to be discreet and don’t have to detract from the beauty of your lawn. French drains use gravel and perforated pipe to naturally disperse standing water from your yard. Many homeowners find seamless ways to blend these drains into their landscaping. A landscaping expert like Torchwood can help you correctly position and install a French drain.

Fix Grading Issues

Over time, parts of your lawn can settle due to shifting soil or foundations. This shift in soil that causes humps and bumps in your yard is called grading. It can be a huge problem when it comes to drainage. Fixing grading issues is possible to DIY, but it involves a lot of heavy lifting, like moving soil from one area to another. We recommend hiring a landscaping team to help you.

Don’t Let A Soggy Lawn Dampen Your Day

Even when snow melts and rain pours, it’s possible to maintain a beautiful lawn without standing water. In this blog, we covered six solutions that improve lawn drainage issues. However, we understand that it can be difficult to determine what solution is right for your lawn. Schedule a consultation with Torchwood Landscaping. We’re lawn experts, and we’ll be able to help you future out the issues causing standing water in your lawn. That way, you can get back to enjoying a beautiful lawn—rain or shine!