Sustainable Ways to Manage Rainwater Runoff in Your Property


In places where precipitation is high and storms are common, rainwater and stormwater runoff can be a big concern. But even if it rains occasionally, poor drainage in your property can cause serious damage. These could range from soil erosion and damage to outdoor structures to flooding in your basement or crawl space. Runoff can also wreak havoc outside your property. For instance, eroding soil and flooding can bring debris and harmful materials such as excess fertilizer and mulch to nearby properties.

To avoid costly repairs and potential conflict with your neighbors, it’s important to make sure that your property has an efficient drainage system. Fortunately, there are inexpensive and sustainable ways to achieve this.

Signs of Poor Drainage

First things first, you should know how to identify a potential drainage issue. Check for these signs inside your house and throughout your yard:

  • Moisture or warping in your floors
  • Soggy or muddy basement or crawlspace
  • Corrosion or water damage in your foundation
  • The topsoil moves or erodes every time it rains
  • Paved walkways sink or move when you step on them
  • Clogged gutters and downspouts
  • Drains inside your house are clogging

If you notice one or more of these signs, here are things you can do to improve drainage in your soil and yard and prevent future runoffs in your property.

1. Check your gutters, downspouts, and sewer lines

More often than not, problems with runoff and flooding can be traced back to your property’s sewer lines. After a windy or rainy day, make sure to check your gutters and downspouts for debris such as stones, pebbles, twigs, and leaves. If the drains are clear but you still experience flooding, it might be time to have your sewer lines checked for damage in the foundation or roof drains. In this case, a sewer line replacement could be the solution to your problems.

2. Use native planting

In places like Columbus, for example, where precipitation is heavy during the summer, it would be useful to have native plants as they hold up well against strong winds and rainwater. Native plants have adapted well to their natural environment and have deeper, stronger roots to keep the topsoil intact. Consider adding a mix of native trees, shrubs, and understory vegetation to ensure deep rooting and ample soil coverage. Avoid using artificial grass as they release harmful chemicals and toxins that could seep into the soil after heavy rains. If the soil in your area is naturally soggy, you can build a rain garden with water-loving plants.

Consider planting these native Ohio perennials and trees to not only add beauty to your garden but also improve its drainage naturally:

  • Oak Hickory
  • Beech
  • Eastern Redcedar
  • American Sweetgum
  • Columbine
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Bee Balm
  • Blue False Indigo
  • Black-eyes Susan
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Goldenrod
  • Gayfeather or Blazing Star

3. Install permeable paving

Hardscaping is one of the top reasons rainwater pool in your yard. Concrete pavements and fences keep rainwater from flowing to street gutters. If rainwater has already damaged your pavement and you’re looking to get it fixed, consider using permeable paving this time. Permeable paving includes porous blocks that are spaced or interlocked to allow water to flow through the gaps. They also filter pollutants and store water in an underlying stone reservoir. For your driveway, you can opt for permeable concrete or porous asphalt. But for your gardens, you can use gravel or open grid pavers. Open grid pavers are increasing in popularity as they offer great drainage and look pretty, especially when weeds and grass start to grow over them. Just make sure you’re not installing pavers near downspouts.

4. Dig a trench

Another way to slow runoff is by building a shallow, gravel-filled trench. Make sure you install it at the base of a slope or alongside your patio or driveway. To make sure the trench catches and keeps water effectively, consider growing a rain garden around the trench.

5. Catch rainwater from your roof

If you’re going the natural route, which is to create a rain garden with lots of native plants, a rainwater catchment system is an ideal feature to have. It can store runoff from your roof and keep it from saturating your soil. You can then use the water you collected to feed your plants, clean your pavement, and even wash your car.

Surface water runoff is not only a problem for homeowners, it is also an environmental concern as it releases household pollutants (such as fertilizers, mulch, pet waste, trash, and debris) into public drains and eventually nearby rivers, lakes, and oceans. Become a more responsible and eco-conscious homeowner while getting rid of water damage and floods by following these simple tips.



About the Author

Scroll to Top