The sun is out, the snow has melted, and you finally get to put away that heavy parka. Spring has arrived! But as the world thaws, you may start to notice some issues with your landscape.
The spring thaw puts much more than the average amount of water into your landscape. This is the time you’ll start seeing the results of any issues that developed over the winter.
Common Symptoms of Poor Drainage
Foundation cracks; puddles and leaks in the basement; crusty, white calcium deposits on basement walls:
These symptoms indicate a clogged or broken footing drain. Footing drains are located around the perimeter of your foundation, and while they open to daylight, they can be very deep below the ground.
When you buy a house, you should have a plan indicating where these let out; if not, look for areas where the grade of your landscape falls away around the edges of your property.
Very large puddles in lawn; wet, squishy lawn; white or tan crust on exposed soil in dry weather*; streams of mulch or soil from beds; erosion:
These are a sign that your yard has drainage issues. It’s usually the result of insufficient pitch in your landscape.
Overflowing gutters during storms; streaks of dirt along siding; peeling paint; pools of water at ends of downspouts: These signs mean your gutters and downspouts are having issues. Gutters may be clogged with leaves and other debris. Downspouts may be clogged as well, or, they may not extend far enough from the house to relocate water a safe distance from your foundation.
*As water evaporates, it draws certain minerals to the surface of soil, and leaves them there once it’s gone. While evaporation is normal, white or tan crust is a sign that most of the water in your landscape is evaporating instead of draining back into the soil. That means that your lawn is no longer able to accept the amount of water going into it, pointing to a drainage issue.
What Can You Do?
Unclog your Gutters: Cleaning your gutters is fairly easy if you’ve got a good ladder and a steady hand. Some people choose to get this done professionally, which usually runs around $75-$125.
Extend your Downspouts: Downspouts should relocate water a minimum of ten feet from your foundation. If you have pools of water beneath your downspout, you may want to look into spout extensions (usually around $10/10 feet). While these work great in the short run, a professionally installed replacement will last much longer.
New plantings:Installing new plants will help stop erosion in your yard. Look for native species with good root systems. Ground covers like Aromatic Sumac or Sage are great options, as are small shrubs and trees. Grasses also make great stabilizers, however, if you have a grassy slope that’s still muddy, you may want to look into alternatives with deeper root systems.
DIY Drainage: There are some great how-to’s out there on how to dig and install simple drains, like French Drains, which are a great way to deal with soggy lawns or landscape puddles. Most landscape contractors can also do this for you, if it seems too labor-intensive.
Unfortunately, when it comes to things like foundation cracks or basement leaks, you’ll have to call in a professional. Fixing a footing drain requires excavation down to your foundation, removing plant beds, walkways, porches, and anything else in the way – not really a job for you and your shovel.
Sometimes, it’s just a good idea to call in a professional in general. A second opinion is always helpful, even if it’s just confirming previous suspicions. Furthermore, professionals can also offer alternative solutions you might not have thought of. Two heads are always better than one.