Houston, yard drainage issues are very serious due to our flat topography, dense
clay soils, and heavy forested lots compacted by years of construction that have
increased impervious surfaces. These factors have caused more streets and homes
to become flooded during the heaviest rainfalls. Consequently, local ordinances
are beginning to follow the model used by the Memorial Villages that require
minimum pipe sizes, flow rates, temporary drainage systems, engineered
drainage plans, calculations, topographic maps, and as/built
Within those broad strokes, a well-designed yard drainage system
provides proper grading, which creates positive drainage away from structures. It also takes
into account adjacent properties and being careful not to drain onto them.
Another aspect involves identifying and addressing existing problems such as
poorly-placed downspouts, naturally-occurring low areas or an addition to the
house that creates dams and changes the originally-intended water flow.
Yard Drainage: Parts and Pieces • Catch basins, or yard
drains. Catch basins can be placed under downspouts when it is undesirable
or not possible to tie into the gutter. They tie into a PVC main drain line
instead and carry water out through the landscape drainage system. Catch basins
are usually a plastic or concrete box that uses a plastic or metal drain grate
cover to filter out leaves and other waste debris. • Channel drains.
These long narrow strip drains are used between main structures and paving or at
the edge of a patio or deck. • Deck drains. Deck drains are installed
in patios, decks and walkways so that water is either sloped toward drains or
drained into the landscape beds. They have special drain covers, usually
decorative, made of metal, brass or stone. Deck drains are smaller in size than
catch basins and are only intended to drain patio surface areas. • French
drainage. Designed to take water away from saturated soil, French drains are small ditches
that are filled with undersized rocks or gravel. • Gutter downspout
tie-ins. Downspout tie-ins are designed to take water from the gutters to
the landscape drainage system. These tie-ins are made of plastic, metal or brass
and sometimes have a side cleanout with a see-through grate so they can be
easily inspected for clogs.
Yard Drainage: Affect on the Landscape Yard drainage impacts residential landscape maintenance in several ways. Since it drains water from low-lying areas, it prevents
standing water that can cause slippery surfaces, mosquito breeding grounds and
drowned landscaping. A proper landscape drainage system is essential for proper
lawn maintenance as it moves
water off of your property in a timely manner, thus encouraging healthy grass
and allowing your maintenance crew to perform their regular lawn service
Drainage systems and irrigation systems can work in concert with
each other. Professional landscape designers or
landscape architects have the
ability to develop a whole-system approach so that the nuts and bolts of both
systems are hidden as much as possible. Custom decorative drain gates can be
used to reduce the negative visual impact of your patio design. The design and location of the
two systems should be seamless with the rest of the landscape design.
installing a yard drainage system, it is recommended to hand-dig trenches around
trees to minimize damage to them. It is best to tunnel under tree roots by using
compressed air. This tree preservation method
exposes tree roots so they are not torn. Alternately, pressurized water can be
used to dig deep trenches and expose roots, which also minimizes
“If drainage contractors embark on
a storm drainage project without a thorough understanding of all these
demands—at the city or county level, the neighborhood level and the ground
level—homeowners may find themselves in the middle of a big, expensive mess,”
says Jeff Halper, landscape design specialist with Exterior Worlds.
Exterior Worlds at 713-827-2255 for more
information on yard drainage systems. Since 1987, Exterior Worlds has serviced
the Memorial Villages, River Oaks, West University, Bellaire, Tanglewood and the
greater Houston metropolitan area with
value-added landscape designs and landscape
For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has
specialized in servicing many of Houston's fine neighborhoods.
This article was published on Tuesday 13 January, 2009.