Spring is just around the corner and so you know all that snow has got to go somewhere. Is your property able to property manage drainage from snow, spring runoff and the inevitable spring rain? Lots of snow is beneficial to trees and shrubs but it can cause serious drainage issues around your property if the grading is not adequate. Drainage is a key concern for many Calgary homeowners. Homeowners are concerned about water draining towards and around their foundations. They are also concerned about water setting around patios and walkways causing freezing and slipping hazards. We can provide you with drainage solutions for your property and here are a few examples of drainage solutions you can implement to keep your property safe.
Positive drainage away from your foundation
It is imperative to have positive drainage away from your foundation. This is done by creating a slope where the high point is against your house and the low point is away from your house. You will want to create this slope with the soil before you add sod, decorative rock or any other topping. Creating this positive drainage will help to keep water away from your foundations. We grade our slopes at about one inch for every eight feet. We implement this on all of our grading including patios and walkways. You may find that over time your property has settled and therefore your lawn or patios or walkways have settle along with the sub surface. In some cases this may require removing the surface layer of sod or walkway and regrading the property so the proper slope is present.
Proper downspout placement
We constantly encounter issues where downspout placement is inadequate or where downspouts are not placed in the correct areas. We find this issue to be most common around walkways, especially high traffic walkways in front yards. Downspouts need to be placed in areas where they will not allow water from your eavestrough to drain onto walkway. Sometimes this will require adding to or adapting your existing downspouts so they will help with drainage. Many homes have neglected downspouts that remain in bad areas for years. This can eventually cause erosion to your property, wash out of soil and gravel and even water making its way through foundation cracks and into your basement. Try to place your downspouts in an area where it will serve your property best. Some times placing your downspouts into or towards garden beds will help provide your trees and shrubs with water throughout the season. Just make sure the garden bed is not right next to your foundation.
Avoid burying your downspouts
If at all possible it is important to avoid burying your downspouts. We find this to be one of the most common landscaping mistakes Buried downspouts can cause all sorts of long term problems so whenever possible make sure to run you water overland and not underground. One of the main reasons buried downspouts are an issue is simple. The water below ground thaws last in the spring time. The water on your roof, in your eves troughs and downspout drains first. So during Calgary’s big thaw in spring time all of the thawing water from above ground runs into a solid iced plug that is located underground. This means your eavestroughs will not drain properly because there is no where for the water to go. The backed up water will likely freeze again as cool weather returns and that can cause all sorts of problems to your landscaping. We have creative drainage solutions such as using an arbor for a drainage aid. This process involves running your drain pipes over to the arbor, allowing you to avoid burying your downspouts.
Use an arbor for a drainage aid
We often use decorative arbors as a drainage aid. We use these arbors to straddle walkways and we run the drain pipe or downspout over top of the arbor and to the other side of the walkway. This diverts the water and drainage away from the walkway. The arbor also provides an attractive landscaping feature in your front or back yard. The drain pipes can be hidden in the arbor so that they are not visible. See our page arbors and pergolas for your front or back yard for more on this subject.
If your property would be improved by the look of a beautiful cedar arbor you could consider this option as one of your drainage solutions.
Use plantings to absorb the water
You can use plantings to absorb the water from some of your drainage. Trees, shrubs and sod can really help with drainage issues especially if they are located in key areas. If you are planning a new garden or new landscaping then Planting trees and shrubs in these key areas would be a great idea. We find that larger trees and shrubs work best for this application as they require more water. When planning this method make sure that you are not diverting too much water to your trees and shrubs as overwatering trees and shrubs can be as harmful as under watering. Using run off water for trees and shrubs is a great way to recycle and it will save you time and money as your hand watering will be minimized.
Rain barrels have become very popular in landscaping in Calgary. The idea behind rain barrels is to capture the run off from your downspouts or rainwater and use that water for other purposes around your gardens or landscaping. You will see most rain barrels at the side of homes next to the downspouts. Some homeowners use small pumps in their rain barrels that lead to a hose for hand watering trees, shrubs and perennials. Rain barrels are a great way to collect water and recycle the water.
French drains are often used as a last resort when overland drainage is not possible or if there is just too much water for your property to handle. Most properties in Calgary are designed to manage the drainage overland without the need of underground drainage solutions. French drains involve digging a deep hole somewhere on your property and filling the excavated area with washed rock. The water is then diverted to this area away from your home and foundation. The diversion can be done naturally or with the use of weeping tile or Big O drainage pipe. French drains if built properly can handle a very large amount of water and will greatly reduce the amount of water you have on your property. They don’t require any substantial maintenance and can be left alone for years.