Do I have Landscape Drainage Issues?

Drainage Question Test

  • Are you getting water into the basement of your house?
  • Do you have any soggy and or wet areas in your yard? 
  • Does your back yard look like a lake every spring or after a heavy summer downpour?
  • Does ice build-up along your sidewalk or along the side of your property?
  • Every year do you notice dead grass patches where ice has built up over the winter?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you likely have landscape drainage problems.
Drainage issues can be very stressful and expensive if neglected.

The 2 most common contributing factors to poor drainage are:

  • An improperly graded landscape
  • Inadequate management of your downspout and sump pump watershed.

*Other less common factors that can contribute to poor drainage are compacted soil, poorly designed and installed fences or other landscape features that can impede the flow of water drainage. 

In simple terms, drainage issues occur when there isn’t a clear properly sloped path for water to move downhill away from your home. An easy way to recognize a drainage issue in your yard is the amount of time that water sits after a rainfall. If water is not evaporating after 24 hours at the most, a landscaping change is a must.

One of the biggest problems with unaddressed drainage issues can be seen around the foundation of your home. This can easily become disastrous to not only your home’s interior finishes such as drywall and flooring but more importantly, can lead to water leaking through cracks in the foundation.  This eventually leads to major expensive foundation failures when the freeze-thaw cycle expands that water into ice.


B.Rocke Landscaping Professional Solutions


A good start to all good landscaping is good grading.  All of your landscaping features should slope away from the foundation of the house by 1%-10% depending on the feature.  Patios must slope away by 1-2%, whereas other soft-scape landscape features can have between 5%-10% and above.
Good grading is your foundation for a good watershed management plan.

Managing downspouts and sump pump watershed

One of the most commonly overlooked elements of good drainage is managing the watershed from your downspouts and sump pump.

Adding longer eavestrough extensions (10’+) is an easy quick solution, however, they often get damaged or bent and can be in inconvenient hazard over walkways.


An alternative solution is underground rain drains.  We recommend installing them under specific eavestrough and sump pump discharge areas.  

A rain drain looks like this:

And functions like this:

In a nutshell, it works by allowing air to escape from a catch basin box that connects to a pipe buried slightly above the bottom of the side of the box.  Water flows out via this pipe to the city street or into a garden.  Properly selected water-loving vegetation downstream from the discharge at the end of the rain drain box will flourish with the extra water.

Sump pumps located close to downspouts can usually share the rain drain box but the discharge end then needs to be cut off within the property line or wherever your local bylaws specify. The 4” drainage pipe is buried anywhere between 3-6” below the landscape and as long as the discharge end is lower than the box the water will always drain out the discharge end.

Yes, they do freeze up in winter!  Prior to your rain drains thawing in spring you must also have your landscaping properly graded.  It is critical to have both systems working for you in combination to give you the best possible watershed management system.

Author: Byron Rocke

For professional advice contact our studio b landscape design office at 204-615-2512 or visits and our expert team can help identify and provide solutions to your water drainage plan.