As you would expect, the commandments for designing a residential drainage system are a little less weighty than the ones that came down from Mount Sinai many moons ago. There are only two:
- Do not attempt to solve 100% of a drainage problem.
- Do not install a drainage system that cannot be easily expanded.
While the first rule seems counterintuitive, it goes hand in hand with the second.
Rule 1: Do Not Attempt to Solve 100% of the Drainage Problem
When a prospective client first calls me to inspect their drainage problem, I explain that the intention should not be to design a drainage system that will eliminate water problems resulting from every rain event up to and including a 100-year flood. The cost to do that is generally very high. The objective should be to diminish the surface water problem enough to reduce drainage issues and satisfy the customer. My experience has been that folks will be happy with a less expensive system that will take a big enough bite out of their problem.
For example, a homeowner has a rear yard that stays wet long after it's done raining. In effect, this family is not able to use their back yard for up to 200 days a year without creating a muddy mess. If I can install a drainage system that can dry out the back yard in a matter of hours as opposed to days and has the capacity to do so for 75% of the rain events over the course of the year, I just gave them an extra 150 days they can use their backyard without having to hose off the kids afterwards.
Rule 2: Do Not Install a Drainage System that Cannot Be Expanded
Now let’s imagine this same homeowner, while very happy with the extended activity time, would like to try and get a few more mud-free days. That brings us to Rule #2. Planning ahead for drainage system expansion in the initial design and installation process makes it straightforward to later extend the size and scope of the solution. Typically, up front, I will give clients two or even three options of increasing capacity levels to address their drainage problem. Most will pick the less expensive option with the understanding that it will help solve their problem, knowing if they want further relief they can later expand the system.
In essence, approaching drainage solutions with this mindset keeps the contractor and the customer alike from the fool’s goal of trying to install a drainage system that won't fall short no matter the size of the rain event. There will eventually be significant enough rain to overwhelm even the most elaborate system (see New Orleans circa 2005). The key to long term customer satisfaction is making them understand the Drainage System Design Rules: Rule #1 – seek a realistic solution that will solve a majority of the drainage problem, and Rule #2 – plan for possible system expansion from the start.
If you find standing water in your yard or planting beds or notice the ground remains overly soggy, contact Bio Green Outdoor Services for long-lasting, effective drainage solutions.