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How Do You Drain Water Off Lawns?

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Question: How Do You Drain Water Off Lawns?
In answering how to drain water off lawns, you need to know not only about water drains, but also what to do with the runoff. Where can you safely channel what you catch in water drains?
Answer:

I've written elsewhere about the water drains known as "French drains." For those looking to tackle lawn drainage problems in an aesthetically pleasing manner, there's also the option of building dry creeks. But there's one question you have to answer first, before you start draining water off your lawn: Where do you want the water you're channeling to end up?

Never use water drains to channel water towards a neighbor's property: you could end up with a lawsuit on your hands. That much is probably obvious to most. But don't think that ending your water drain at the street (a solution that occurs naturally to many folks) is necessarily without problems of its own.

You may find it difficult to tie your water drain in to existing storm sewers -- not physically difficult so much as difficult to get permission from the powers that be. But if you can get such permission, ending your water drain this way is an optimal solution.

A solution some opt for that is less optimal is simply directing water runoff towards the street, letting it go where it may after that. If you live in an urban or suburban environment, where a sidewalk separates your lawn from the street, draining water off your lawn in this fashion is problematic for 3 reasons:

  1. In winter, you may make the sidewalk icy for pedestrians (in cold climates)
  2. In summer, you may also make the sidewalk slippery -- but this time, due to the formation of algae
  3. You may get into trouble with the authorities

So what other options are there for terminating water drains?

Dry Wells: The End of the Line for Water Drains

Well, one option is something known as the "dry well." Although you can build a dry well using commercial products, a dry well is, at the most basic level, simply a cavity dug in the ground and backfilled with rocks. Water is channeled into this underground "rock pit," where it then (eventually) harmlessly percolates down into the groundwater. However, dry wells may not be an effective solution to lawn drainage problems if your soil type is a heavy clay.

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How to Install a French Drain

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