Every homeowner is responsible for the grading of their lot and keeping an eye out for any drainage problems that could cause flooding to your own property or others. Lots that are graded properly will allow all surface water to run away from buildings and take the fastest route to Calgary’s drainage system.
If you are often ending up with huge puddles in your yard, you should be concerned – especially if they are near your foundation. The constant moisture will almost certainly cause non-structural damage, which may end up being structural damage if not tended to. Structural damage interferes with the overall stability of your home, causing it to shift under its own weight. Not only is structural damage difficult and expensive to fix, it can even make your house dangerous to the point that it becomes unlivable.
Not only that, mosquitoes don’t need a lot of water to breed, so any standing water is a potential birthplace for thousands of the hungry little biters.
Some yard drainage problems are easily fixed with a little bit of detective work, while other will require the expertise of landscape construction professionals such as us at Mirage.
Most common yard drainage problems
The most common cause of a yard drainage problem is a blockage to overland drainage right-of-way. Water should always flow away from permanent structures down towards a lane or a street. Get outside when rain is falling (or run your sprinklers), try to figure out what might be causing the block and remove it.
Also check that your downspouts and gutters are working properly. Downspouts should be pointed towards a street or an alley, not towards any sort of permanent structure, and towards absorbent landscape features, such as grass or gardens. Downspouts should also be located at least 6.6 feet away from public property and infrastructure such as sidewalks, streets, and lanes.
Gutters in poor repair could be leaking and causing puddles in your yard as well. Get up on a ladder (carefully) if it’s possible a gutter could be the cause of your water accumulation and check for cracks or holes. Repairing a gutter is not that easy. If the problem appears to be serious, it may be time to call in a gutter expert.
Poor lot grading is a more difficult problem that can require the assistance of a landscape construction professional (or even an engineer) such as us at Mirage. The City of Calgary recommends a minimum slope of 2% away from buildings, however a slope of 5% to 10% is preferable, especially within two metres of a building’s foundation. Give us a call so we can come help diagnose the problem. We can check to ensure your underground irrigation isn’t the source of the problem. If it is not, we can carefully remove soil from areas that are too high and add it back into the lower areas to fix the grade. Retaining walls can also be a great way to fix problem.
Another situation that could be causing yard drainage problems for you is a conflict between your property and your neighbour’s. In an ideal situation, drainage away from both you and your neighbour’s homes should come together to form a sort of pathway towards the alley or the street. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t always the case. We tend to notice yard drainage problems arise when a neighbor has had major renovations done by an unthoughtful company. Call 311 for more information and to understand if there is a clear bylaw infraction. If so, report it. If not, and you can’t come to a resolution with your neighboor, you may need to go through mediation. You can contact the Calgary Mediating Services for further assistance.
If nothing works …
It very well could be that your yard drainage problems have nothing to do with your property, but are actually the fault of the municipal sewer system. There could be a blockage where your sewer line connects to the municipal sewer system. There may also be a problem with drainage in your alley or street, although this would likely be obvious.
Consult the City of Calgary’s Guidelines for Homeowners: Resolving a Lot Drainage Issue for complete guidance. This document goes through common drainage problems, points to the responsible party, and then guides you towards what to do for each scenario.
If you are going to be digging, why not do some planting?
Regrading a yard is a big job that often requires a lot of digging. If you are already going to have to make a major change to your yard, why not also plan a landscape redesign at the same time? It’s also the perfect time to consider an underground sprinkler installation.
Mirage Landscaping proudly serves commercial property owners and business managers in southeast Calgary, where we both live and work. Our family-owned company has been producing great results for three generations. We place the utmost importance on our customer relationships, providing courteous service, quality, and reliable prices that are more than fair.