Is Poor Drainage Ruining Your Lawn? How to Identify and Fix Drainage Issues

How to Identify and Fix Drainage Issues

Poor lawn drainage can turn your summer dreams into a nightmare. From muddy paw prints to your grass dying to mosquitos, nobody wants standing water in their yard. Fortunately, there are ways you can fix this and get back to enjoying your lawn. Here we’ll review three common culprits for standing water in your lawn and how to resolve the issue.

Causes of Drainage Issues

If you’ve been noticing standing water on your lawn, several issues could be responsible. Before looking into these issues, ensure you’re not overwatering your lawn. If you think overwatering might be your issue, check out our watering guide. Otherwise, here are two of the most common culprits:

Improper Grading or Slope

The most common cause of standing water is improper grading or slope in your yard. This is the angle at which your lawn lays. While it’s typically so slight you hardly notice, it’s incredibly important. A slight slope away from your home is meant to divert water away from your foundation and protect your home from water damage. However, if there are lower points anywhere in your grass water will pool there. Ideally, your lawn will be able to absorb all the water, but this isn’t always the case. 

Soil Issues

If your soil is dense and clay-based, gets a lot of foot traffic, or has been driven on by vehicles, this could be a cause of pooling water. This is very common after a construction project when trucks or other heavy machines have been going over your grass. The soil can become so compacted water won’t be able to penetrate through and will pool. 

Potential Damage

Pooling water in your yard is unsightly, but it could also cause severe damage. The most urgent concern is if the water is pooling near your foundation. If this issue isn’t remedied quickly, you could be looking at a very expensive and difficult repair to your home. 

Poor drainage could also be killing your grass. There are several issues that can arise with the health of your lawn if you have pooled water regularly. Standing water is a haven for pests, such as mosquitos, and can cause an excess of weeds. It can also cause fungal disease in your grass which is detrimental to your lawn’s health. Since standing water is indicative of other issues, it’s also likely that your grass isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to the roots. 

How to Resolve Problems

Determining the cause of your drainage issues is the most important step. If the water exclusively pools in specific areas, it’s likely a grading/slope issue. This is a more challenging issue to tackle on your own, but not impossible. You can use a method called “top-dressing” to help smooth out your lawn. This process involves smoothing out a leveling mix over the low points of your lawn. You can buy this prebagged or mix your own using 40% sand, 40% topsoil, and 20% compost. You can apply up to ½ inch of this per application, then wait for the grass to grow through. Never apply more in one sitting as it could suffocate your grass. 

If your lawn seems to have pooling water in several spots, this could be an indication of compacted soil. In this case, aeration is an excellent place to start. You can read our guide on aeration here for more information on the process. This will loosen the soil and allow the water to drain through. 

A final solution is to create a drainage system. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, the most common of which is a French drain. This involves digging a trench and adding a drain to the area(s) where water tends to pool. The drain will divert the water to another location in your yard, just be mindful of where the water will go when it drains. You don’t want to drain it near your foundation or into your neighbor’s yard.

Lawn drainage issues can be incredibly frustrating but don’t lose hope. If you’re able to identify the issue, use these tips to increase the ability of your lawn to absorb excess water. While some issues are easier to remedy than others, a beautiful, healthy lawn is possible! Remember that a well-cared-for lawn is less likely to have these issues, performing your regular maintenance will make a huge difference in the health of your lawn. Cedar Lawn Care is ready and able to get your lawn to its fullest potential with our wide range of services with a plan for every homeowner.

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