How to Fix Water Drainage Problems in Yard?

You don’t have to be a landscaping expert to notice your yard has a drainage problem. Knowing how to fix water drainage problems in yard, however, is more difficult. There are multiple causes of water standing in your yard and each has to be addressed differently.

Do you get nervous every time it rains because your lawn will get soggy? Is water from your neighbor flowing into your yard? Don’t get desperate. Keep on reading to find out what may cause your problem and what types of yard drains you can use.

Signs you are dealing with a drainage problem in your yard


Before understanding the causes of drainage problems, let’s see how we can recognize them. Check for the following symptoms:

  • Puddles of standing water in your yard
  • Soggy spots on your lawn
  • Random patches of overgrown grass
  • Fissures indicating soil erosion
  • Water pooling under downspouts
  • Water stains on your home’s foundation
  • Water in basement
  • Ice building up on walkways and patios in the winter

If you notice these issues, look for ways how to fix water drainage in yard.

Most common causes of water drainage problems


Everybody loves a beautifully manicured green grass and delicate flowers. But you could be working hard on your landscape and still get a yard full of water. There are several reasons why you can’t enjoy a healthy, properly drained lawn in your yard:

  • Poorly installed gutters and downspouts

Overflowing gutters or leader pipes not directing water away from your home represent a problem. Runoff water will pool around the foundation of your home and cause landscape problems.

  • Improper grading

House lots are not always graded properly so water moves away from the house. When builders don’t get their grades right, water can flow towards the house rather than down to the curb.

  • Run off from neighbors

If you live downhill from other properties, consider water coming from higher elevations as a potential cause. It’s painful to watch water running into your yard and not knowing how to fix water drainage problems in yard. Yet, you can’t really ask neighbors to prevent it, either.

  • Landscape options

The reason why landscaping experts exist is the complexity of the field. You cannot overcome landscaping challenges without proper training and experience.

However, many people choose to do their own landscaping without thinking much. They often make mistakes such as projecting areas without vegetation. Or don’t notice that the yard slopes towards their homes. Next thing, they look for solutions to fix a yard that holds water. To avoid this, they should have projected their yard the right way first.

  • Damaged underground drainage pipes

A collapsed drainage pipe such as the main sewer line can leak water into your lawn. In time, soil becomes saturated with water and you start noticing puddles and areas of overgrown grass.

Underground pipes can break due to wear and tear or due to tree root intrusion. Look for other signs of a collapsed sewer line to see if this is the problem.

  • Surface depressions

Water collecting in flat areas suggests that the surface of land has depressions. Water puddles in these areas and hardly evaporate after unusually heavy rainfall.

  • Your soil

Some areas in your yard take more time to drain? This could be an indicator of having different or bad types of soil. Soil heavy in clay, for instance, won’t drain very well. On the contrary, sandy soil lets water slip right through. [1]

  • Not ensuring the right slope for paved surfaces

Be careful about the way you design and build solid surfaces such as driveways, terraces, walkways, and pool decks. You need to make sure they have a slope that conducts water away from home and not towards its foundation.

Negative effects of water drainage problems in your yard


Now that you know what causes standing water in your yard, the question is: how urgent is it?

Best is to fix these drainage issues soon, even if they are not serious. In time, depending on their severity, they can have a range of negative effects:

  • Ruining grass and flowers
  • Plants and trees drowning
  • Soil erosion
  • Risk of injury due to falling on ice in the winter
  • Mosquitoes breeding in puddling water and transmitting disease
  • Getting water in the basement and developing mold and mildew
  • Affecting your home’s foundation and even your home’s interiors due to water infiltrating into foundation and walls

How to Fix Water Drainage Problems in Yard – DIY Solutions


There is a variety of backyard drainage solutions you can try. Choosing the right one depends on the cause of the problem. The important thing is to react quickly so as to prevent further damage.

  • Installing downspouts correctly

Make sure all downspouts are pointed away from your home and lead far away. If necessary, connect the spouts to a drainage system.

  • Cleaning your gutters

Leaves or small objects like ball can cover the leader drain. As a result, water will overflow. Landscaping experts also indicate bird nests, debris, and dead animals piling up and blocking downspouts as common blockage causes. Check the gutters for overflowing issues when it rains and proceed with a cleanup if necessary.

  • Improving soil quality

Soil heavy in clay will not drain very well. The solution can be improving it with a coarse aggregate such as sand or pea gravel. Adding organic matter to the soil can help, too.

  • Creating a rain garden

Consider building a rain garden if you don’t really want to solve the soggy yard problem. However, a rain garden looks better than a muddy hole. The idea is to simply fill that problematic area of your yard with water-loving plants. These are typically native plants with deep fibrous roots.  Just keep trees away from sewage pipes.

  • Filling in depressed surfaces

Are there surface depressions collecting water in your yard? Get some extra soil and use it to level up these lower areas. This way, water will no longer drain into those low spots.

At the same time, be careful about where that water redirects. If it goes towards your foundation, you still have a problem. For better results, you could combine this solution with one of the following:

  • Building a drainage ditch

You don’t need to be very skilled to know how to build a drainage ditch. This simple solution consists of digging a shallow ditch the follows the natural drainage path of your yard. Line this dry bed with natural river rock and stone to prevent erosion and create a natural look. [2]

  • Building a subsurface drainage

This method requires some digging, but is easy to do when you don’t mind a few hours of work. The most common and effective of all backyard drainage solutions is installing a perforated drain pipe.

The drain pipe needs to be surrounded by filter fabric and gravel to prevent clogging.

  • Installing a catch basin

An underground catch-basin requires moderate skills level and the existence of a subsurface layer of soil with good drainage characteristics. These drainage systems are installed in spots with drainage issues, such as low areas of the yard or around downspouts. The hole for the well needs to be lined with landscape filter fabric and filled with gravel. You can also place decorative stone or river rock on top to integrate the area perfectly into your landscape.

  • Using rain barrels

The thought of destroying your landscape by digging trenches to build drainage systems is bothering you?

We understand that. This is why we give you the oldest and simplest solution at hand: rain barrels. These are recommended for downspouts that you are not able to extend. You just place a barrel under the downspout and store it for later use. It I also possible to connect rain barrels to sprinkler systems to water your lawn or flower beds.

Now you know how to fix water drainage problems in yard with little effort.

Unfortunately, there is one downside to this method: you need to be very careful if you have young children.

Water reservoirs represent a drowning hazard for children and pets. You should never leave kids unsupervised in a yard with rain barrels or with a pool.

  • Hiring a professional landscaper to grade broad surfaces

Sometimes it is possible to address drainage issues yourself. At other times, you may need help from a landscape design professional.

Instead of implementing various solutions that are costly and work intensive, you could address the root cause of the problem. Having your entire yard graded by a professional can be the best fix, even if this means destroying your current landscaping.

Starting from scratch without drainage problems can be more cost-effective, in the end.

Depending on the severity of your water drainage problems, you can use one or multiple backyard drainage solutions. Combining two or three solutions can put an end to this annoying problem.

Now that you know how to fix water drainage problems in yard, get down to work. Don’t wait until the next heavy rain and solve the problem as soon as possible.