Learn About Backyard Drainage: Why Your Lawn Floods and What to Do About It
This winter, much of the country received more snow than usual. For many homeowners, this means that when the snow melts, their yards will flood. Dealing with a soggy yard is a huge hassle. Flooding can damage the root systems of grass, remove grass seed from soil, and just generally makes a yard look unattractive. You may ask yourself why, every year or even every time it rains, your lawn floods while your next-door neighbor’s lawn stays relatively dry. Here is a short guide to why lawns flood and what you can do if your lawn tends to get soggy.
Your lawn may be at the bottom of a hill or other slope. When it rains or the snow melts, water tends to go downhill (thanks, gravity). If your lawn is situated at the bottom of a slope, water from that slope may collect in your lawn. If the slope is minor, you can try leveling or regrading your lawn. If it’s a large slope, you may need to look into setting up a drainage ditch or other system to keep excess water from collecting on your property.
You may have soil issues. Certain types of soil, like clay, do not absorb very much water. Another possibility is that you have normal soil but your lawn gets a lot of foot or even vehicle traffic. In this scenario your soil can become compacted and less able to absorb water. If your issue is clay, try adding a thin layer of top soil or compost to the top of your lawn a few times each year to create an extra layer of absorbent soil. Mulching your grass and leaving it on the lawn when you mow is another excellent way to add organic matter to the top layer of your soil. If the issue is compaction, make sure to aerate your lawn, and/or try to alleviate the foot traffic. Build stone paths in your yard and encourage guests to walk on them instead of on your grass.
There may be a high water table in your area. The water table is the level at which the ground becomes completely saturated with water. Water table levels vary seasonally and regionally, though they tend to be higher in the spring as snows melt and more rain falls. It can be very difficult to deal with a high water table. Simply re-grading your lawn will not suffice. If you discover that the water table on your lawn is high, the best solution is to build a drainage system. French drains are particularly popular.