Wet Backyard Solutions from Franklin Soil and Water

Is your yard flooded, swampy, or muddy? Spring rain and winter snowmelt often result in flooding, standing water, and wet or muddy yards. Simply put, the ground is just too saturated and cannot drain water fast enough to keep up.

The Science Behind Flooding & Wet Backyards

Some areas in Franklin County have clay-heavy, poorly draining soils, and about 85% of the land in Ohio is affected by a seasonally high water table. Newer subdivision lots, especially those outside I-270, generally do not have quality topsoil left after grading and construction. Instead, homeowners find themselves with heavy, hard subsoil as a poor foundation for grass establishment and other plantings that help slow and filter runoff. Your property and landscaping modifications that include additions, mature shrubs, or soil movement tend to change drainage patterns too, often directing water to foundation walls. Finally, those living near streams or ravines may clear plants and trees for an unobstructed view or easy access, but this threatens property and water quality with erosion, and intensifies runoff. Fewer trees result in less water removed from soil through the process of evaporation, which can lead to more flooding.

Flooding & Wet Backyards Solutions

These are a few solutions to help reduce flooding and wet spots in your yard.

  • Check your downspouts. Clean downspouts at least once a year, monitor for overflow or pooling water, and ensure the discharge point (including sump pump) is at least 3-4 feet away from your foundation. Your runoff should not be a nuisance to your neighbors, or empty onto a sidewalk where ice forms in winter.
  • Take care of your soil. Aeration, soil amendment, grass-cycling, and mulching fall leaves on lawns help build up oxygen-rich organic matter over time that retains more water and supports deep plant roots.
  • Plant native, water-tolerant plants. Encouraging water-tolerant plants or planting a rain garden can sometimes be a resolution for periodic wet spots. Don’t install a rain garden where it’s perpetually wet though; that would be more appropriate as a wetland and planted with wetland plants. With a rain garden, you want the water to drain within 24-48 hours.
  • Route roof runoff away from your foundation. Always ensure a positive grade away from your house’s foundation, and practice stream stewardship where appropriate. Better yet, capture some of that roof runoff with a rain barrel to water your garden during dry spells.
  • Consider Ohio Drainage Laws. Water should enter and leave your property where it did prior to any construction activities. Changing the flow of water in a manner that causes damage to an upstream or downstream neighbor may result in legal liabilities.

If you need drainage assistance, the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District can help by providing:

  • Soils information and general drainage review.
  • A contractor list.
  • A rain garden plant list and technical guidance.
  • Advice of eligibility for rebate or grant programs.

To inquire about drainage help, please call Franklin Soil and Water during business hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or contact them online anytime. Please kindly allow 24-48 hours for a response.

The article above is courtesy the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District.