Is your basement wet? Do you have standing water on your lawn for long periods of time after a rain? Are your trees, shrubs, and other plants growing poorly? You may have a drainage problem.
About 85 percent of the land in Ohio is affected by what soil scientists refer to as “seasonal high water table.” This means that during the wet months of the year, typically November through April, the ground is saturated with water at or near the surface.
There are two different avenues you can take to handle problem water on your property — surface and subsurface. Some sites may need both approaches.
The best way to start is to evaluate what you see during a typical rain. Where does the water go from the roof, from the downspouts, and throughout the yard? When does your sump pump run, for how long, and where does it outlet? What is your landscaping plan? Is watering entering the basement through the wall or through the joints between the wall and the floor?
Surface flow is often the culprit for many drainage issues because vegetation or incorrectly graded areas direct water flow toward the house foundation. Creating positive drainage away from the basement is critical. My house is on a hill so we have a drainage swale which intercepts water from a small slope behind our house, safely directing it to the road ditch. The drainage swale is grassed like the rest of our lawn and protects the soil from eroding in heavier rains.
Subsurface drainage generally consists of corrugated plastic tubing buried underground. The word “tile” is commonly used for this tubing because clay was the material of choice before the prevalence of plastic products. Excess water is drained from the lawn and/or foundation through the tile into ditches or to the curb and into storm sewers.
If your home has foundation drains and downspouts but you are still encountering wetness problems, they may not be functioning properly. Some trees such as willows can clog tile so be sure your landscaping plan doesn’t interfere with your drainage needs. Holes over the tile, what we call blow outs, indicate there is a issue with the tile — it could be crushed, plugged by an animal, or full of sediment, just to name a few possibilities.
The poem, “Sweet April showers do spring May flowers,” was penned by Thomas Tusser long ago and by following these techniques to reduce external water problems, you will be able to enjoy the May flowers to your heart’s content:
• A functioning lot drainage system.
• Properly installed and maintained gutters, downspouts, and drains to collect the water.
• A waterproofed foundation wall with properly installed footer drains.
• A waterproofed floor slab.
Before embarking on any drainage improvements, you may need to consult with your homeowners association, stormwater ordinances, and the local building code. Ohio laws governing water rights and drainage are complex because they have been determined by case law which is constantly evolving; however, changing the flow of water in a manner that causes damage to an upstream or downstream neighbor, may result in legal liabilities.
The Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District’s website at www.delawareswcd.org features a publication entitled Drainage Around Your Home, which you can download for free under the publications tab. If after reading this publication and making your own evaluation of your site you are still unsure of the best course of action, call us for an appointment to conduct an on-site assessment.
Stay tuned to our website for upcoming summer programming. Tentative plans include a soils and home sewage treatment system workshop in collaboration with the Delaware General Health District in June.
A soils and drainage workshop will be offered sometime in August. You can also find details on our summer events on facebook at www.facebook.com/DelawareSWCD, or call 740-368-1921.