Asked on Mar 28, 2013

How to fix drainage problems in backyard?

Kay HaroldDouglas HuntNature Scapes


We bought a home in Iowa in January. When we first looked at the home in October, we had been through a drought all summer. We did not notice any standing water and the grass was growing well in all areas of the yard. The yard was not fenced but we have since added a wood fence because of our dog. The soil is sandy parts of the yard and clay in the area but the back door out of the garage. We discovered the problems when we had a snowstorm and then a sudden warm up. It was warm enough to melt some of the snow off the roof but the ground was still frozen. The previous home owner used edging blocks around all the beds that rim the house. He did not angle the downspouts enough so the water is able to run away the the house so we know we have to fix that. There is an area right next to the back door out of the garage that is fairly flat and two downspouts run off into that area. Our neighbors backyard is higher than ours and we've now seen that it drains into this same area, adding to the problem. We don't know whether trenching out and putting drainage tubes under ground would fix the issue or it those would just freeze again next winter? There are a lot of trees in the neighborhood and we noticed that a lot of leaves had blown into our yard. Many of the neighbors are 70+ and didn't get the leaves raked last Fall so we have to consider leaves as an on going issue. It is an ugly mess right now and we are still waiting for a thaw to get to work on this problem.
4 answers
  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 28, 2013

    It is not uncommon to have "periods" of soggy ground during a recent rain / thaw. Where more of the problem is, if you have prolonged periods of sogginess. We have a "mud season" that lasts a few weeks to a month or more each spring. We get some of heaviest snow falls in March and April. A good dumping followed by some warm weather or even a bit of rain will have areas of my drive and yard pretty soggy too. Correcting the downspouts would be a good place to start. One trick I did at my cabin was importing a bunch of crushed stone, to fill the low areas by the cabins deck and stairs. I will eventually bring in a bunch more to make a full stone walk way. The stone allow water to drain through, but not be muddy.

  • Nature Scapes
    on Mar 28, 2013

    If the soggy ground persists there are many beautiful and creative ways to utilize it. Rainwater harvesting, waterfalls, raingardens etc...check out for more ideas.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Mar 29, 2013

    I would wait to see how long and significant a problem this is. If you go the French drain route you'll have to have a place to direct that water. In additional to being unsightly, leaves that don't get raked up tend to smother what's under them when they get wet and compacted. So they're something you really should take care of.

  • Kay Harold
    on Apr 2, 2013

    I appreciate the thoughts each of you have shared. It is a little better now. I understand Mr. Hunt's comment because I've seen them blowing into any low spot and blocking the run off. Having trees in the neighborhood if pretty but I guess I'm not used to people not seeing about keeping their leaves raked up on their own property. Here it seems it they blow off their yard they aren't their problem any more!

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