Prevent stormwater and drainage headaches by planning ahead

landscaping work in progress in yard
Stormwater runoff should always be directed to a spot where it will not erode the landscaping.
Terren Landscapes

Stormwater management and yard drainage concerns have the potential to negatively impact a landscape. Whether it’s water pooling in the yard or a mudslide over the hardscaping every time that it rains, water woes can cause major headaches. That’s why it’s imperative that landscape contractors pay attention to these challenges and devise solutions where needed.

John Lipartito, marketing manager at Terren Landscapes in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, says that the drastic increase in precipitation levels of the past 20 to 30 years has made drainage and stormwater a necessary consideration on every single project in their area. He says that the majority of the properties that the company has worked on have required some sort of drainage solution in order to assure the long-term success of their landscaping work.

“Because stormwater management and yard drainage issues often compromise the long-term success of new hardscapes and plantings, it’s become necessary to factor drainage into every design/build project to ensure our work isn’t ruined a year later by something out of our control,” he explains. “If we don’t, it’s impossible to guarantee the satisfaction or provide warranties like we prefer to do.”

It doesn’t always have to be a complicated solution. Lipartito says that a vast majority of the time, problems start with a property’s downspouts. 

“Most homeowners leave their downspout to pour out into the lawn or garden, which is often the singular cause of flooding during and after a storm,” he continues. “Simply tying them into PVC pipes and directing the water to a distant catch basin or rain garden is often enough to do the trick. However, when there’s something else at play, solutions trend toward funneling water toward a drainage pit with bioswales or re-grading an area to keep surface water away from the problem area.”

Learning more about stormwater management

piping from landscaping uncovered in backyardThinking ahead about stormwater management solutions will keep your clients happy.Terren Landscapes

The problem with failing to learn about stormwater management is that you leave your finished landscaping work open to potential damage. Unaddressed stormwater management concerns can lead to erosion, washed-out plant material, and a swampy yard. In worst-case scenarios, serious water problems around hardscaping can begin to lift and damage pavers.

It’s important to remember that hardscaping can actually create water problems that did not previously exist. Anytime that you’re adding hardscaping to a client’s property, you must consider its potential impact on the drainage and implement solutions where necessary, Lipartito adds.

It is important that landscape contractors begin to factor stormwater management into their landscaping plans so that they don’t end up with dissatisfied clients. While experience is the key to success, Lipartito suggests that landscapers can keep up with the latest research to stay up to date with best practices.

“Many local colleges offer classes with a good conceptual overview of the most common drainage issues and how to solve them,” he says. “Utilizing those and other freely available resources—including YouTube videos—will go a long way to putting you ahead of the curve. The truth is surprisingly few contractors can actually explain with confidence what they’re doing and why it works. This can be a differentiator when it comes to meeting your clients’ needs.”

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