2019 has already been one of the wettest years in the Midwest to date. Since I’m based in the Midwest (South Bend, Indiana, to be exact) and long, heavy rains happen frequently. My heavily forested and hilly 9 acre property can start looking like a swampland really quickly. Standing water not only looks unsightly, but can bring mosquitoes and other pests to your area, constituting a major problem. I’ve come up with a list of 7 ideas to help you deal with terrible unsightly lawn flooding.
Basic Fluid Dynamics
Water flows downhill. Unless you’re one of the first landscapers on the Moon, this will apply to you. Typically, when someone finds water settling has suddenly become a new problem, the source is likely uphill in one way or another. Impermeable surfaces like asphalt, concrete, or even a neighbor’s new patio could be causing this issue by not allowing water to flow as freely as it once did.
Dry Wells are a relatively cheap and easy solution to settled water – Well, if you call digging deep holes and trenches easy. But it shouldn’t take more than a few days to set up a simple system that will already help massively. But first, let’s review how they work.
Dry wells are essentially just barrels with holes in them that are set underground in an area with fast draining sandy soil, and helps accumulate water from other areas of the lawn where clay or other substances make it harder for water to disperse. Using gravity and laid pipes, a dry well can transfer water from several different locations at once, diffusing the water that would be stuck above ground into the soil around it.
Swales are depressions in a landscape that help promote drainage and water flow through the creation of a gently contoured trench. Compared to dry wells, swales are more of a horizontal integration of water flow, instead of vertical. This may appeal to some yards where the soil is non-porous, or has a lot of square-footage that would just do better with an approach like this.
Improving your garden’s ability to suck up and retain water is a lot cheaper and effective than you might think. Depending on your area, native plants that have been in the area forever work best for a rain garden, since they’re most accustomed to the typical weather and won’t require much maintenance. In the center/lower elevations of a rain garden, plants with a high wet soil tolerance work best since the water will accumulate here. I recommend Queen of the Prairie for this vital area due to it’s attractive bloom and soil tolerance. Around the edges/high elevations of the garden, the choice is really up to you to make the garden pop. A rain garden of any size will dramatically decrease the amount of sitting water in your yard.
Improve Grass Seeding
Depending on your location, and the chemical makeup of your soil, different types of grass seed are better suited for the climate. Since most of the Midwest lies between Zone 3-9, I would recommend “Tall Fescue” grass, with a great tolerance to most soil types and known for it’s ability to survive well with poor drainage, lowering the risk of unsightly brown spots across your yard after flooding.
Better Drainage Construction
Driveways and parking lots are commonly one of the major problems that affect water flow in a yard. The materials used in these constructions are typically harmful to both the soil and it’s ability to spread water effectively around. Instead of using concrete or paving stones, consider an aggregate gravel instead for a surface that completely mitigate standing water on such an important man-made surface. Plus, it’s the cheapest surface, saving you both money and your yard!