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How to Fix Poor Yard Drainage

By Alexis Lawrence ; Updated September 21, 2017

Poor yard drainage can be especially perilous to your plants and garden during times of heavy rain or snow. When water pools on the surface of your yard, it can drown the roots of plants or freeze them during the winter months, which may prevent them from blooming. You can correct poor yard drainage in several ways, which will keep the roots of your plants protected from water damage.

Add organic matter such as compost, sawdust, sand or potting soil to the soil in your yard or garden while tilling before planting. These organic substances will allow the water to drain more effectively around the plant roots, so even if water does pool on top of the ground, it will be less damaging to the plants from underneath.

Build up low spots in the yard by using a layer of top soil on the yard's surface. It may also be beneficial to till the soil with organic matter before adding top soil to increase the level of drainage in the area.

Add a French drain to your yard that directs water away from important parts of your yard, such as the garden or anywhere else plants are growing. Create a French drain by digging a foot and a half trench, layering 3 to 4 inches of gravel in the bottom of the trench and placing drainage pipes on top of the gravel. Cover the pipes with gravel to the top of the trench and the water will flow from the surface, through the rock, down the pipe and out the end of the pipe.

Build a dry well just in the spot in your yard that has poor drainage. A dry well is created by digging a large hole in the area where major pooling occurs and filling it with bits of concrete, bricks and stone. Water will sink into the well and slowly absorb into the surrounding soil.

Water your plants less often if there is always standing water in your yard near the plants. They are more than likely over-saturated and more water may be detrimental.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost, sawdust, sand or potting soil
  • Top soil
  • Drain pipe
  • Gravel
  • Concrete, bricks and stone


  • The drainage around your garden may not improve right away after adding organic material to the soil. If this is the case, add more organic matter the next time you till the area.

About the Author


Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.