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How to improve garden drainage

Garden drainage can be a sore subject through the colder, wetter months for some homeowners and landlords as cold weather solidifies mud and rain comes down far too often. Whilst cold and wet weather isn’t preventable, there are a few other factors that can contribute to poor garden drainage. For example, a free-flowing downpipe can pour rainwater that’s been collected onto the ground to make it even wetter. 

A water-logged garden is a garden that can’t really be used so there are simple steps that can be taken to improve garden drainage and reduce the impact on your home life. You’ll be surprised at the damage that a water-logged garden can do, especially when the water threatens to enter the property or is seeping down to the foundations. Rotting timber, uneven patio slabs, and unusable garden space can all be treated for low-cost. The image to the right is a pretty good example of water-logged grass to the extreme degree. If your outside space looks like this after rain, we'd recommend you contact a drainage specialist immediately. 


How do I know I need to improve garden drainage? What garden drainage tests can be done? 

First, it’s important to look at what’s causing the garden drainage issues. It’s worth noting that garden drainage issues can’t always be identified by large puddles of water or sunken grass. If your grass squelches or oozes water when you step on it, this can be evidence too. For confirmation (if you’re unsure if your garden is just suffering through a particularly rainy season) you can dig a 60cm deep hole in the middle of the garden. Fill it with water and return after 4 hours. If it’s not drained then we would suggest your garden drainage needs improvement.


So, what causes garden drainage issues? 

There are several common problems that are worth investigating and making a note of before deciding on a solution. Some common problems have easy, inexpensive fixes, whilst some have more complex fixes that might need a professional. 

Problem: Your garden is in a unfavourable position on a hill or in a valley 

Is your garden at the bottom of a large hill? Does it sit in the trough of a valley? If so, in theory if the ground is hard, frozen or clay, all the rainwater that’s logging your neighbours garden will eventually makes it way to you. This means your ground has more water than normal to contend with, making drainage an issue.

Solution: Invest in a drainage system

Whilst you of course can't move your garden to a better position you can improve drainage by having a drainage system installed professionally. You could take this on as a DIY project but it's fraught with methods and areas where you could potentially make the problem worse or break the law too. Installing an attentuation system, or a soakaway system in certain soils, could solve the problem. 


Problem: Incorrectly installed water features 

It sounds silly but just like the above example, an incorrectly installed swimming pool for example can lead to an unbelievable amount of water flooding land. Just because it’s in someone else’s garden too doesn’t mean the water will stay there. Double-check your own installations and feel free to ask around the street too.

Solution: Check for leaks and put them right

Garden furniture or design features installed incorrectly must be corrected of course to eliminate them causing garden drainage problems, including leaking ponds and pools and uneven patio slabs.


Problem: Uneven surfaces like patio slabs

Uneven surfaces like a poorly laid patio will cause water to flow in essentially the ‘wrong’ direction and can cause little pools to build up in troughs between slabs.

Solution: Take up the surface and install again

Unfortunately the only fix for a poorly laid surface is to take it up and start again. If the same person installed your patio and your driveway for example, it may be worth assessing them both at the same time.

 


Problem: Disconnected guttering and downpipes

It sounds straight forward but you’d be surprised at the amount of domestic properties that install their guttering the right way, and then leave their downpipe to spout water into their garden. Heavy rain fall can increase waterflow massively and any rain that goes onto the roof of your home will be poured out onto one patch of the garden.

Solution: Downpipe-to-drain connector

If your downpipe or downpipes are flowing rainwater into your garden then connecting your downpipe to your channel drainage could alleviate your problems very quickly. ACO, for example, have a HexDrain downpipe to channel drain connector. Alternatively it might be a good idea to invest in a rainwater harvesting system if there’s that much excess water so that this can be recycled and put back into your home, lowering bills.


Problem: Clay soil

Clay soil doesn’t drain water easily so even a mild dose of rain can spell trouble for these types of gardens. While there’s nothing homeowners can do to change the type of soil, there are several drainage systems which are options.

Solution: Professionally-installed drainage system

The only solution to clay soil is to install a drainage system which stores the water or directs it away from the soil. A soakaway system in this instance will never work though and will eventually become clogged too as clay is too densely packed to allow water to drain. Water attenuation that diverts water into a nearby watercourse or sewer is your best bet. Check with the council though as in some areas, as previously mentioned, this is prohibited. 


What else do I need to remember with garden drainage? 

Before installing any kind of garden drainage system as a solution to garden drainage issues, contact your local authority to ensure there are no unknown issues or water-based problems you’ll need to contend with. For example, in some water protection areas a soakaway system is prohibited and in some areas you’re not allowed to pump rainwater into sewer systems. It’s always worth checking to avoid a hefty fine and having to undo the work!  

Contact us on 01752 692 221 for advice and expert knowledge on installing garden drainage and for how to fit garden drainage items. 

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