How to Improve Yard Drainage


Drainage is important for a successful yard; no one wants to walk through puddles to get to the front door. There are several options for improving yard drainage. After considering where your yard could use better drainage, implement one or more of these suggestions to direct water, raise low areas and make use of all that extra water.

Step 1

Install a berm. A berm is a raised, sloping stretch of dirt that blocks water and redirects it away from a particular area. Berms are particularly helpful when you need to direct water away from a house or outbuilding: Build up the soil about a foot away from the exterior wall; slope it gently down and toward a natural slope, ditch or drain in the yard area; and then plant it with shrubs and flowers. You improve yard drainage and create an attractive landscape feature.

Step 2

Install a French drain. This simple drain consists of a ditch that is partially filled with pebbles and then finished with PVC drainage pipe. Cover the French drain with another layer of pebbles, topsoil, and finish with sod. French drains can direct water along the side of a yard, away from the house, and into appropriate drainage areas such as a ditch, reservoir, culvert or stream.

Step 3

Plant a water garden. If you have a portion of the yard that is a continual puddle, take advantage of the area by installing a water garden. Research plants that need constant moisture. Fill the area with a 3-inch layer of gravel and then topsoil. Install the water-loving plants, and edge the area with landscaping rocks, large stones or landscaping timbers. The water will continue to flow to and collect in this low space in your yard, but instead of simply breeding mosquitoes it will be held in the dirt and gravel and create a beautiful water garden that is beneficial for the environment.

Step 4

Clear and improve ditches. Check any ditches and natural drainage areas you already have in your yard and clear out debris, leaves, sticks and fallen tree branches. Remove plants and shrubs that may be growing in the ditches and impeding water flow. Line the sides with large rocks to prevent erosion that will fill the ditches with dirt and slow the flow of water.

Things You'll Need

  • Step 1
  • Shrubs
  • Flowers
  • Step 2
  • Pebbles
  • PVC drainage pipe
  • Step 3
  • Gravel
  • Water-loving plants
  • Step 4
  • Large rocks


  • University of Minnesota--Building Soil Berms
  • Example of a French Drain Project
  • NC University--Landscape Plants for Wet Soil
Keywords: drainage issues, directing water flow, improving drainage

About this Author

Annie Mueller is a professional writer and blogger. Since 2003 she has written extensively on small business, finances, parenting, education and personal growth, and has been published on Financial Edge and many other websites. Mueller attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in English from Mississippi State University.