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Solve Simple Lawn Drainage Problems

Drainage Grate

Standing water in your yard isn't just an inconvenient nuisance; it can kill your grass and other plants, ruining your landscape. Standing water can also be a health hazard, harboring mosquitoes and other pests. If you have a problem with poor drainage in your yard, you can correct it easily enough with a little work and some simple tools.

Tools & Materials

Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.

Plan Your Project

  • Never place the outlet where it will simply move the drainage problem to a different area (especially someone else's property).
  • Contact your local authorities if you plan to connect your drain to any municipal, county or state drainage or run off system.
  • Contact your local authorities if you plan to connect your drain to any creek, stream or other body of water.
Before you begin any excavation you need to call and check for underground utilities. The North America One Call Referral Service at 1-888-258-0808 (or just dial 811) connects you to a national directory of utility companies.

Determine the Basin and Outlet Locations

  1. Locate the basin at the lowest point in the area to be drained.

  2. Locate the outlet in an area that will be able to handle the added water. The outlet should be at least 1 1/8 inch lower than the basin for every 10 feet of distance between the basin and the outlet. That's roughly a 1-foot drop for every 100 feet of length or a 1% slope. If using a corrugated pipe, it is recommended that the outlet be 2 1/4 inches lower than the basin for every 10 feet.

Install the Drainage System

Draining Problems Grate

Step 1

Starting at the spot designated for the outlet, dig a 12- to 18-inch deep by 8-inch wide trench to the spot designated for the basin. The trench should have a consistent slope from beginning to end. Be careful to keep the trench bottom flat so you don't have high spots in the corrugated pipe that may hamper the flow of water.

  • Drill a 1/4-inch hole in each corner of the bottom of the catch basin. Before installing the basin, place 6 inches of gravel under the basin to eliminate standing water.

Step 2

Dig a hole for and install the basin and basin grate. The basin grate should be flush with or slightly below the surrounding grade.

Step 3

Connect the corrugated pipe to the basin outlet and place the pipe in the trench.

Step 4

Test the drain by running water into the basin with a hose. If the system doesn't drain, adjust the trench.

Note: Many pipe connections in landscape drainage, including those to catch basins, are not designed to be watertight. When testing the system, it will leak. Once you backfill the trench and area around the basin, the soil will seal the connections.

Step 5

Secure hardware cloth to the outlet end of the pipe to keep small creatures from nesting in and clogging your drainage system.

Step 6

Backfill the trench.

Place gravel or pour a small concrete pad immediately adjacent to the outlet to disperse the water and inhibit erosion.