A flooded backyard can be a frustrating and damaging problem for any homeowner. Excess water can lead to erosion, damage to landscaping and outdoor structures, mold and mildew growth, and mosquito breeding grounds. Thankfully, there are several effective ways you can prevent flooding in your backyard and protect your property.

Evaluate the Terrain and Soil

The first step is to assess your backyard’s terrain and soil type. Low-lying areas or depressions in the yard are more prone to collecting water during heavy rains. The soil itself also plays a role. Compacted clay soil doesn’t allow water to permeate as well as loose, sandy, or loamy soil. Identify any problem spots so you can take appropriate action.

Improve Drainage

Poor drainage is one of the main causes of backyard flooding. You can improve drainage in several ways:

  • Install a French drain, which is a trench lined with gravel that redirects surface water away from the yard. French drains should slope slightly downward and connect to a storm sewer or area with good drainage.
  • Use landscaping techniques like building a berm or swale to direct water flow around and away from the yard. Position these in areas that tend to collect water.
  • Make sure downspouts from roof gutters are extended at least 5-10 feet away from the foundation using downspout extenders. This prevents rainwater from pooling around the foundation.
  • Consider a dry creek bed or river rock channel that gives excess water a place to drain through.

Increase Permeable Surfaces

Adding more permeable pavers, gravel, vegetation, and landscaping allows rainwater to soak into the ground rather than pooling on paved surfaces. Minimize the amount of impervious concrete or asphalt in your yard. Permeable options include:

  • Gravel or stone walkways and patios
  • Interlocking concrete pavers
  • Grid systems filled with gravel or grass
  • Rain gardens planted with native vegetation
  • Green roofs on garden sheds or other structures

Elevate Structures

For frequently flooded areas, you may need to elevate structures like garden sheds, playsets, and vegetable garden beds. Raising them on a gravel, stone, or concrete foundation can protect them from water damage. Make sure the elevation is sufficient for the amount of flooding you experience.

Install a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels collect rainwater from your home’s gutter downspouts. You can then use this water later for irrigation, watering your garden, or washing your car. Diverting water into a rain barrel reduces the amount of runoff pooling in your backyard. Just make sure to empty the barrel after heavy storms so it doesn’t overflow.

Improve Yard Grading

Proper grading, or sloping, in your yard encourages water to run off into appropriate areas. A 2-3% slope away from the house is ideal. Use a contractor for major grading projects, or smaller DIY jobs, use a transit level, and move soil to create a better slope.

Waterproof Basements and Foundations

Sealing any cracks or leaks in the basement and foundation walls can prevent water from seeping into your home and causing interior flooding. Professional waterproofing techniques like exterior sealants, French drains, or sump pumps can help keep basements dry.

Check Gutters and Downspouts

Clogged gutters overflow and direct rainwater towards your home’s foundation. Make sure gutters are clear of debris and downspouts are securely connected. Use gutter guards to prevent leaf buildup. Extend downspouts to divert water away from the house.

Install a Sump Pump

For areas with chronically high groundwater, a sump pump can be a useful solution. The pump activates when water in your basement or crawlspace reaches a certain level, pumping it away from your home’s foundation. Hire a professional to install it properly.

With some planning and DIY solutions, you can keep your backyard free from excess water. Pay attention to drainage issues immediately after heavy rains to identify problem areas. Then you can take steps to prevent flooding and enjoy your yard even after stormy weather.

Frequently Asked Questions About Preventing Backyard Flooding

  1. What is the best way to create a slope for drainage in my backyard?

The ideal slope for proper drainage is around 2-3% grade away from your home’s foundation. You can create this slope by moving soil, installing French drains, or using landscaping techniques like berms and swales. A contractor can also perform more complex grading.

  1. How often should I have my gutters cleaned?

Gutters should be cleaned out 2-3 times per year minimum, especially before fall leaf drop and after storms. Clogged gutters are the main cause of foundation flooding.

  1. Will filling in low spots help prevent standing water?

Yes, filling in depressions and low areas with compacted soil will improve drainage and prevent water from pooling. Just make sure to create a proper slope so water still runs off.

  1. What plants are best for a rain garden?

Good options include native wildflowers, sedges, rushes, ferns, shrubs, and small trees that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions like sumac, elderberry, and serviceberry.

  1. How much gravel is needed for a French drain?

French drains require a 2-3 foot deep trench that’s 1-3 feet wide, filled with 1-1 1⁄2 inches of gravel. Larger gravel goes at the bottom with smaller gravel and sand filling the top 6-8 inches.

Preventing backyard flooding protects your home, belongings, and landscaping investments. With routine maintenance like cleaning gutters and some DIY drainage projects, you can keep excess water under control and enjoy your yard no matter the weather. Reach out to an experienced contractor if you need help designing and constructing more complex solutions.