Without incorporating landscape drainage solutions, flooding can be a huge issue for homeowners. More than the unsightly pools of water or muddy footprints into your house, drainage issues can cause some serious issues to the foundation of your home as it seeps into walls, causing cracks and mold issues. Standing water also harbors the reproduction of mosquitoes that can not only be annoying but carry disease. As well, poorly drained areas will ruin your landscaping. Grass and most trees and shrubs that are over saturated too often will suffer from root rot. You will have issues mowing, trimming and simply enjoying your yard if it is a wet, sloppy mess.
In some ways, we are very lucky here in sunny Central Florida. We have lots of sunshine, no snow and plenty of summer rain. Our rainy season here runs from April to October. That gives us more than half the year here in Orlando to deal with possible draining issues. We are also fortunate to have a sandy soil type in and around Orlando. This type of soil allows for good drainage for the most part. However, there are many other issues that can cause problems and wreak havoc on your Orlando landscape. Let’s take some time to identify what some of those are, what to look out for and some drainage solutions to address them.
This can be particularly troublesome in newly constructed subdivisions where builders are not as concerned with long term landscape issues. Although our native soil tends to be sandy, sometimes builders will bring in what is called fill dirt to grade into building sites before pouring slabs and beginning construction on new homes. If the soil that is brought in consists of clay or is severely compacted, it can be cause for very slow drainage of excess water. With over six months of rainy season, this can be a huge problem.
If you are building or buying a new home, the best thing to do is to inspect the property before you buy. Even if you bring in a reputable Orlando Landscaper to assist in your assessment, it will save you time, money and lots of frustration in the long run. Be sure that the lot is graded properly to allow for proper runoff. This is key. Also, check the soil around the perimeter of the house compared to the soil further into the yard. If the soil around the house is more clay or overly compacted, this could mean trouble down the road. If you love the house and still detect some issues, work with your Orlando Landscaper to determine what drainage solutions will be needed and the cost associated. You may be able to negotiate this prior to purchasing your home.
Likely the number one cause for drainage issues in Orlando Landscaping is yard slope or pitch issues. Again, when new homes are built in subdivision, it doesn’t allow much space for builders to consider all the details of individual sites’ slope and pitch. Without the proper slope of land away from your home, water runoff cannot be diverted away. This can also happen in older homes over time if the pitch or slope is slightly off and progresses to erode soil.
It is typically recommended that a 2% pitch slope can divert water away, but more and more Landscape architects and engineers are recommending at least 3%. This is an important change from traditional opinions. When yards are less than this, it is recommended to install other means of drainage to your yard and around your home.
Another possible issue for drainage issues could be poor design. This could be site design when the home was built or landscape design that did not properly consider drainage issues when replacing or installing new landscaping. Some factors here are things such as:
- Front sidewalks that run parallel to the house. This creates an “island” of lawn or flower bed in which water will sit and not drain properly unless some precautions are taken.
- Downspout Issues will cause issues when either not installed to divert water or installed improperly and actually divert water towards the house instead of away. This is a very common problem that happens frequently when inexperienced site workers install drainage solutions.
- Erosion happens when excessive downspout water pools around pipe openings. This can be especially troublesome here in Central Florida in our Summer rainy season.
- Soggy areas can appear in your yard if there is an irrigation or pool pipe broken underground, or if your home is built in a low-lying area such as a flood zone. These usually happens in the lowest area where all the water is draining. This can also happen with improper slope as well.
There are various drainage solutions available for your Orlando area home. Depending on your issue, some or all of these can be installed to help keep your yard dry and your landscape healthy. We will list a summary here but we highly recommend that you contact a local Orlando Landscaper to assess your issues and give you the best options that will solve your problems. You can always take the DIY approach to installation, but an expert should be on hand when analyzing the problems and determining the best drainage solutions.
- Installing gutters either on the roof edge or in the ground below the drip edge can do a lot to prevent excess runoff in those Florida thunderstorms. This is by far the best investment you can make to prevent drainage issues. This is particularly helpful when you have landscaping up close to the perimeter of your home.
- Extending your downspouts can also be a simple step in solving drainage issues. Downspouts usually do not extend very far from the side of your home. When this is the case, water can pool and eventually erode the soil in these areas. Extending downspouts further away from your home and into the yard can get the excess water away and further into the downward slope of your property.
- French Drains can be used to divert water away from the perimeter of your home into other areas of your yard. If your issue is great, you can actually use the water runoff to naturally irrigate other parts of your landscape.
- Installing a dry well can also be extremely helpful in areas like Central Florida where summer rains can be quick and dump a lot of water in short order. These can be rain barrels or other forms of dry wells in which piping leads to that is typically dry unless there is an excess of runoff. In this case, the runoff is piped into the dry well which will have smaller holes drilled into the bottom of and be encased in stone so that the water it captures will slowly drain back in to the soil. These should be place a good distance away from the home and on a downward slope. Some rain barrels are also placed near a hose bib and piped from a downspout. This water can be used for future irrigation so long as it is sealed and air tight to prevent breeding pests or bacteria. Be sure to size your barrel properly before considering this use.
- Create a creek bed or rain garden. These are two creative ideas that can supplement your landscape design. Particularly for uneven lots, with lots of challenges. With the right landscaping, these can look good even during dry season. A rain garden uses an existing low spot and incorporates water loving plants. It doesn’t necessarily solve a drainage issue, but if the low spot is sufficient distance from your home, it can add a focal point to your landscaping with beautiful plants instead of just a low, muddy spot in the yard.
As you can see, while we enjoy lots of advantages by living in Central Florida, we can also encounter some challenges when it comes to our Summer rainy season and drainage issues. Be sure to take a look at your yard after the next heavy rain and address any issues now, even small. Using the proper drainage solutions sooner than later will save your yard, plants and pockets in the long run.