Finding a growing puddle of water around the perimeter of your home can be frustrating, especially when you have standing water in your yard and no rain to attribute it to. Leaving standing water in your yard can facilitate mold growth, lead to foundation issues, create a breeding ground for mosquitoes, cause lawn and landscaping problems such as grass and plant death, and prompt you to track mud into the house unintentionally.
When you find your yard saturated with water, the best thing you can do is take immediate action. Most fixes are relatively simple and can be completed in a day or weekend. Larger jobs may require a professional landscaper or specialized contractor. If you don’t want to attempt removing the water yourself, Today’s Homeowner’s experts recommend TruGreen as the top lawn care service for fixing standing water. Find the best lawn care service in your area to help with your standing water issue.
9 Ways to Get Rid of Standing Water in a Yard
Fixing pooling water in a yard after heavy rain can be a difficult and lengthy process, and most homeowners don’t want to wait until it’s evaporated to deal with the problem. Once you know what’s causing the standing water in your garden or yard, take a look at these strategies to help you get rid of the excess water.
Professional landscapers can provide you with a survey of your lawn’s trouble spots, natural drains, and channels. After a survey is complete, they can address the areas that need re-grading. Re-grading your property around your home should be completed before addressing pooling water in other parts of your yard.
Clear your yard of any blanket debris that may be causing the water not to drain properly. You can get rid of excess waste with a dethatcher or a simple lawn rake. You can also use a bag or mulch feature to decrease the chance of heavy debris patches when you mow.
3. Aerate your lawn
Once you’ve removed debris, use a lawn aerator to place tiny holes in the surface of your yard. This will break up compacted soil to allow nutrients, air, and water to reach the roots of your grass. The holes should be four inches deep and spaced two inches apart. If you don’t have an aerator, your local landscaping company should be able to provide this service.
4. Give your soil a boost
If you have hard or sticky soil in your yard that pools standing water, try breaking up the soil with a rake or shovel. Add compost, mulch, or manure to the top of the soil to help give it a boost.
5. Find the hardpan
If the hardpan is less than a couple of feet thick, you should be able to break up the soil with a garden shovel after it’s had time to dry out. This may be harder if the ground is covered with grass, in which case you may need to replace brown patches of your yard with new grass seed. If you can’t break up the hardpan completely, hire a professional contractor to drill through the soil for you.
6. Extend downspouts
If you have a plant bed around your house and landscape it with rocks or a raised artificial border, water from your home’s gutters can become trapped. To divert this water away from your house, extend your downspouts or sump pump drain pipe farther away from your home’s exterior—this should remediate the drainage issue.
7. Raise the soil
If you have a hard time landscaping because of a high water table, you can create raised beds for your plants. Choose shallow-rooted plants and flowers—these have a higher chance of surviving standing water.
8. Install a French drain
The purpose of a French drain is to direct water away from your home. Homeowners can make it inexpensively without a lot of materials or tools. Here are the steps to installation:
- Dig a trench into your lawn with deep holes, directing the water toward the perimeter of your property, preferably near a storm drain or dry well.
- When water is diverted to a dry well, the water can gradually drain into the surrounding soil.
- To increase the longevity of the dry well, insert a perforated plastic tub to hold the rocks (the plastic tub keeps out dirt to maintain the drainage system efficiency).
- Fill the trench with gravel, place a plastic perforated pipe at the trench’s base, and let gravity do the rest.
9. Create a dry creek
If you need a French drain for your yard but don’t like how it looks, you can create a dry creek. A dry creek is a path of rock or gravel that diverts excess water into a storm drain or dry well. Don’t channel water toward your neighbor’s property or a public sidewalk—doing so could get you in legal trouble. Always divert your water toward a storm drain or dry well.
Causes of Standing Water in Yard
Below are some of the most common causes of standing water in your yard:
- Overwatering: If your home is equipped with an irrigation system and used regularly, you shouldn’t see standing water in your yard. If pools of water are present, you probably have a drainage problem and should consider watering your lawn less often or for shorter periods.
- Improper grading: Yard leveling, also known as lawn grading, drains water away from your home and toward the street or a storm sewer. If the slope of your landscaping is at an improper angle, moisture can collect faster than it can drain. Improper drainage can also cause water to accumulate in natural low spots of your yard and could eventually seep into your basement.
- Thatch and Compaction: Thatch is a layer of organic matter that builds up around the base of plants. It may be more difficult for water to drain if your lawn is covered in thatch and other excess debris, like grass clippings, leaves, and roots. Remove all debris from the surface of your property to ensure proper water drainage. Hard soil and sticky clay soils don’t allow water to soak into the ground past the surface, which causes excess water to accumulate. In particular, hard subsoil, also known as hardpan, is a thick layer of soil that doesn’t allow any water through. You may have this soil on your lawn from natural causes or due to construction equipment densely compacting the yard.
- Heavy Rain: If a storm produces a large amount of rain over a short period, soggy conditions can arise as the yard becomes saturated with groundwater. Water pooling in your yard after heavy rain can be challenging to remove if other factors like thick soil prevent water drainage.
How to Divert Water from your Foundation
Problems with standing water in the yard can cause water to pool near your home’s foundation. It can cause cracks and remove the soil that supports the foundation, leading to fissures in your walls. Excess water from this seepage can also permeate through the concrete walls in your basement, leading to water damage.
There are several ways to divert water from your foundation:
- Extend your gutters’ downspouts.
- Add a French drain system or dry creek.
- Regrade your yard—Measure from where your foundation meets the soil and go 10 feet straight out from that mark. At the 10-foot mark, your yard should be six inches lower than your starting point at the home’s foundation.
- Reroute water that’s not draining correctly near your sidewalk.
- Prevent water seeping into your basement by installing a creek bed to divert water to a dry well.
- Use a catch basin or storm drain to drain excess water around your foundation.
- Add a rain garden. Choose water-loving plants with deep fibrous roots that grow well in your local area. This will help conceal standing water in your garden and give the water time to drain.
If you see standing water in your yard, don’t ignore it. The longer you wait, the more expensive the repairs will be. Do your best to identify the cause and if you’re not sure what’s causing the standing water, call a local landscaper or contractor who specializes in removing standing water.
Best Ways to Improve Water Drainage
Control Runoff Water with a Dry Well
Be sure to control your runoff diverted by a dry creek or French drain by ensuring it doesn’t end up in the street, on sidewalks, or your neighbor’s property. Improper runoff can lead to several issues, including lawsuits, trouble with the Department of Public Works, or algae formation. Be sure to get permission to redirect your runoff into the street if you have a sewer drainage system in your neighborhood.
A dry well is a large, deep hole filled with rocks that runoff water can drain into and soak into the surrounding soil to avoid pooling. These are the best way to eliminate a dry creek or French drain. Many dry wells are surrounded by porous plastic tubs that prevent soil from clogging up the rocks and allow water to flow freely. We recommend opting for the larger end of dry wells, and it’s difficult to predict the volume of water you’ll deal with in a given year.
Health Risks of Standing Water in a Yard
Allowing water to pool on your lawn causes a variety of health risks, including:
- Mold: Mold loves to grow in moist environments, specifically standing water in your home. You mustn’t allow pooling water near your home’s foundation as mold can begin to grow up the walls, and as spores spread, the entire foundation could get contaminated. This can be costly and have hazardous health effects for you and your family.
- Bacteria: Large moist pools of water make the perfect ecosystem for pathogens such as E. coli, viruses, and other bacteria that can cause severe illnesses for humans and their pets.
- Insects: Various bugs like mosquitoes find pooling water to be the perfect breeding ground and magnify populations that carry diseases like West Nile virus, malaria, Zika virus, and encephalitis.
- Vermin: Rodents like rats, mice, and possums are attracted to standing water for nesting and watering holes and can spread disease to surrounding humans and animals.
- Algae: There is a high risk of algae blooming in pooling water, and some types of algae can produce harmful toxins.