Drainage Drama

lawn puddles

Spring showers bring May flowers and a whole lot of drainage drama.

Spring in the Northwest is synonymous with rain in the Northwest. These rains nurture magnificent green trees and brilliant blooming flowers but they also create muddy puddles and swampy lawns that often create a marshy mess. Drainage challenges are a big part of Northwest landscaping.

Do you have any drainage nightmares? Here are a few common problems and possible solutions.

drainage closeup

  • PROBLEM: A flat lawn that doesn't drain well during winter and spring rains.
  • SOLUTION: Create slope and add more sand to the soil. The slope and sand will help the water run off. Test for a season. If there are still issues, install drainage to increase the run off.
  • PROBLEM: Wet areas in deep shade makes plant growth difficult.
  • SOLUTION: Enhance the soil with sand to help with water obsorption and add plants which love damp shady conditions such as moss, fern and trillium.
  • PROBLEM: The lawn seemed to have disappeared in the winter.
  • SOLUTION: Do a crane fly larva assessment. If you discover you have an infestation, you will need to take steps to control the larva. Alternatively you can quit fighting nature and convert the affected areas to planted beds. To learn more about assessing your lawn and controlling crane fly larva, check out this great article: Crane Fly Larva
  • muddy lawn

  • PROBLEM: Bruno, your playful lab, turns your lawn into a slip-n-slide making it a mushy mess.
  • SOLUTION: This may be more of a "dog" than drainage challenge. Even with good drainage, a wet lawn is more delicate then a dry one. The constant and aggressive wear and tear of an energetic dog, especially a larger one, will damage most lawns. Consider a more traffic tolerant grass like tall fescue. Alternatively, enlarge your hardscaping or plant pet-resistant woody ornamentals. Limiting your pet's play time or installing artificial turn may also solve your squishy lawn problem. To learn more, this link will lead you to a more in-depth article about dog vs lawn issues: Dogs And Lawn Grass Issues
  • PROBLEM: My sump pump comes on constantly in the winter
  • SOLUTION: Clean the gutters and roof frequently to prevent gutter overflow. Assess your existing drainage system to make sure it is working. This may mean heading outside with a flashlight in a rainstorm! If necessary, install new drains to keep water away from the house. Consider installing very sandy soil and, if possible, grading the ground away from the house.

Water tables shift, tree growth increases shade and soil compacts over time. Development and clearing may also change conditions in your yard. Give your yard an annual drainage assessment. Addressing a problem early will result in an easier and less costly fix.
After 30 years building drainage solutions for our clients, we understand what needs to be done to the foundation of your landscape to help reduce drainage problems immediately and as your landscape matures.
We are happy to answer any of your drainage or design questions. Send us a quick email, attach photos if possible and we will give you a quick assessment.

Wishing you a wonderful, puddle free spring.

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Jim Reynolds
Owner & Founder

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Charlie & Lori Ann – Seattle

Our home sits on a very steep slope. After 5 years of fighting the overgrowth we wanted to do something with it that would make it useful and manageable. After talking with a number of landscapers, ...

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