Types of Storm Water Drainage System

There are numerous types of storm water drainage system you can incorporate into your yard.

This is great news for anyone dealing with the problems of flooding after huge rainstorms.

Incorporating only some changes into your existing drainage system can vastly improve the draining of the water in your yard.

Having a functional storm water drainage system is very important and also necessary for places with regular rainstorms.

Luckily, most of these options are easily paired with one another. Read on, and we’ll help you decide on the best storm water drainage option for your yard. 

Most Common Storm Water Drainage Solutions


  • Grates

The most common cities are battling the increase in storm water by installing grates.

Grates are a type of closed water drains which serve the purpose of guiding the water into the sewer system.

The grates can largely differ in size and shape, which is also connected to their hydraulic efficiency. [1]

Also, grates placed at a particular place – such as the street or a parking lot – need to be made of steel iron. This is because the grates need to be strong enough to handle the weight of passing vehicles.

Grates are often placed at the low surface areas because this is where storm water tends to collect.

  • French Drains

The French drain is a type of storm drainage system that involves grates but is more common on personal properties.

They are a great way to decrease the load from the sewer system, which prevents septic backup after heavy rains.

The french drains are usually installed in places surrounding the house or a building in order to stop the collection of water.

In this system, the grates are usually installed near the very foundation of a building or a house. From that point, a long pipe is installed that carries that water to the street.

This pipe is usually surrounded by filter fabric and gravel and is also covered by grass or pebbles. This makes for a great aesthetically-pleasing choice as well.

The french drains mostly serve to carry the water collected around the house foundation straight to another place. If you decide to install it, expect to have pipe replacement when needed.

  • Permeable Pavement 

Permeable pavement (or pervious paving) is a system that allows the water to drain through small gaps effectively.

To be more specific – permeable paving includes a pattern of gravel layers with small gaps that drain the excess water easily.

Actually, this gravel layer filters the water, after which water drains back into the soil gradually.

There are several different types of porous paving materials, but each serves the same purpose. [2]

For example, you might opt for plastic paving grids, which are easier to install DIY. Otherwise, you may opt for concrete paving for yards containing more difficult soil.

Whichever previous paving you choose, know that the neat look they provide to the yard never fails. 

  • Open Storm Drains 

If you’re not as concerned with the looks of a storm water drainage system, then this one might be the right one for you.

Open storm drains are very effective and also fairly easy to maintain once they are finished. They are usually installed parallel to the property and are not covered.

Open storm drain effectively collects and carries the storm water into the city’s main sewer system.

However, there can be several downsides to this kind of storm drainage system.

First, they can require professionals as they are difficult to install and require the use of big professional equipment.

Secondly, they might pose a problem for people with pets or areas with lots of wild animals. That’s why fences are usually a necessity that goes with open storm drains.

Finally, the open storm drains can sometimes carry bad odors into your yard.

  • Slot Drains

The slot drains are a more recent type of water drainage system.

You should keep in mind that this system is effective but not as effective in areas with frequent rainstorms. That’s because it can be flooded more easily than any other older water drainage system.

Otherwise, if you live in an area where rainstorms are not as heavy, this may be the choice for you.

Slot drains are safe and easy to walk over or even drive over. That’s because they are very discrete and are made out of long drain slots that run across the required area.

They are also very easy to clean and maintain, especially when compared to other options.

Other Storm Water Drainage Design Examples


  • Paver Spacing with Grass

This is a type of pervious paving we mentioned above, but with a twist.

The way pervious paving is set (from the very bottom to the top)  is like this:

  • Geotextile – This is the optional part. It includes installing a geotextile – a pervious surface typically used as a filter or a protector. [3]
  • Crushed Stone – The geotextile is covered with crushed stone of 4 to 5 inches.
  • Smaller Sized Crushed Stone – The next layer consists of about 1-inch stones installed in the same depth as the previous layer (4-5 inches). This layer is usually extended in order to handle overflow during large storms.
  • Crushed Gravel – The next layer consists of 1 or 1 and a half inches of crushed gravel in sizes from 1 to 3 inches.
  • Concrete Pavers – The top (visible) layer consists of pervious pavement with spaces or gaps in them.

The concrete pavers sometimes have holes big enough to hold the grass in them. This design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it is also useful as grass also helps absorb excess water.

  • Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a perfect way to handle the constant and heavy rainstorms in your own yard.

Out of all types of storm water drainage system, this is undoubtedly the most aesthetically pleasing one.

They are installed at a chosen area in your yard where you want to redirect the rainwater. This water may come from a pipe, a swale, or simply from a sloping yard.

They are very beneficial to put around the foundation of your house.

It is best to install a rain garden at least 10 feet away from a house. Also, it’s best to choose a place where the soil isn’t easily saturated.

The design of the rain garden goes as follows (from the very bottom to the top):

  • Shallow basin – Dig up the soil to make a shallow and wide basin. You can start from 5-by-10 feet and expand later if needed.
  • Fast-draining soil – Should be placed in about 12 to 24 inches at the very bottom
  • A layer of mulch – This layer should be about 2 inches deep. It serves to insulate and enrich the soil.
  • Perennial plants – These are plants that have a lifespan longer than two years. There are a lot of amazing-looking perennial plants out there to choose from for your rain garden. [4]
  • Pond depth – When planting your plants, make sure to leave some depth (about 6 inches) for the water to collect.
  • Stones – Some stones are typically scattered at the rim of the rain garden to prevent the overflow of collected water. 
  • Swales

Whereas rain gardens serve to collect the water at a certain spot, swales serve to (re)direct that water to a certain spot.

Swales are usually installed around the base of the slope itself. This allows for the excess surface water to collect in swales, from where it is carried to another place.

As such, you can notice swales commonly paired with other designs, such as rain gardens or ponds.

Since swales are just shallow channels that collect and lead the water, most people can make them. You just need to make sure that the depth of the swale is even, so the water can collect and travel evenly.

However, you should be more careful with more difficult yards – such as those with big or uneven slopes. Make sure you consult a professional before you begin a project with those types of yards.

It’s also worth mentioning that swales have other uses, such as in permaculture. For example, you can use them to grow trees in your yard. [5]

Storm Drainage System Residential Solutions


  • Gutters – Gutters are an important part of the water draining system. They collect the water from the roof and lead it to other drains.
  • Catch Basins – This is a concrete box that collects the water coming from the drain and prevents the debris from entering the drain system. It typically has a grate on the top.
  • Storm Drainpipes – These are an important part of the draining system as they collect and direct the rainwater to the main city’s water drainage system or some other types of sewer pipes.
  • Roof Drainpipes – The purpose of rainwater downpipes is to collect and carry the water from the gutter to the drainage system.
  • Trench Drains – Trench drains also carry the storm water into the city’s drainage system and is often placed on the contours of large surface areas.
  • Yard Inlets – Sometimes also called drainage inlets – they are like a smaller model of catch basins with the same purpose as them.
  • Cleanouts – if you see a white head of the pipe in your yard, this is a sewer cleanout cap. These allow for easier access to the drainpipe and are therefore placed where the debris is most likely to collect.

Choosing Types of Storm Water Drainage System (Final Word)

Most houses and buildings will already have at least some types of drainage systems as residential solutions.

However, if your objective is to improve the draining of the storm water in your yard, then you can experiment with some options. Our recommendation is to start with the most suitable solution for your particular situation.

For example, if you only struggle with occasional rainstorms, you may want to build a small rain garden and install porous pavement.

If your yard has a huge concrete surface for a parking lot, you can try installing slot drains. These are safe to drive over and also easier to clean.

Inspect where the rainwater tends to collect the most after a rainstorm and install some improvements accordingly. You can always add something later, as these systems typically work well together.