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Puddles may signal yard drainage problem

The Sensible Gardener says puddles in a yard that never dry up could signal a drainage problem.

Photo: The Sensible Gardener

They say that when it rains, it pours. In some places, when it rains, it puddles. And the puddles never seem to dry up. That’s a sure sign you have a water drainage problem in your yard.

Jeanne Huber of Houselogic lists some signs of possible drainage problem at a home:

  • If water pours over the sides of your gutters when it rains, they’re blocked and need to be cleaned. Other signs of blocked gutters include vertical streaks of dirt outside the gutters, mud spattered on siding, or paint peeling off the house in vertical strips.
  • If you get water in the basement when it rains, your downspouts may be too close to your  house.”Each inch of rain that falls on 1,000 square feet of a roof produces more than 600 gallons of runoff—enough to fill 10 bathtubs to the brim,” Huber says. “Dumping that much water too close to the foundation can send it right into the basement, where it can ruin furnishings, flooring, and all the stuff you swore you’d put on shelves one day.”
  • Cracks in the foundation may also be a problem. Huber suggests keeping an eye on cracks larger than 1/8-inch wide by marking the ends with an erasable pencil line. Measure the width and jot it down. If you notice the cracks are growing, you’ve got potential problems.
  • Mildew in the attic may be a sign that moisture from the basement or crawl space is rising through the house and condensing on the underside of the roof.
  • Has your mulch been migrating? When soil doesn’t drain properly, rain runs off in sheets, carving gullys in the landscape, dumping silt on pathways, and carrying piles of mulch or wood chips where they don’t belong.

If you see any of these signs around your home, you need to determine where the problem starts. It may be as simple as cleaning your gutters or adding downspout extensions to keep water at least 5 feet away from your foundation.

There are many reasons why water puddles in a yard and never dries up. According to The Sensible Gardener, this could be caused by heavily compacted soil, compacted tree or grass roots, or clay soil.

To test your soil, the Landscaping Network suggests digging a hole about 2 feet deep sand 2 feet wide, then filling it to the top with water.

‘If it drains away within an hour, your drainage is excellent. If it takes 12 hours to drain, there may be problems. If it takes more than 24 hours to drain, then there is a serious problem that could impact the deep root zone of trees and shrubs.”

Your yard should be contoured so water naturally drains away from your house naturally. Over time, ground can sink and contours can change, creating a low spot in your yard. Installing a French drain will help get rid of the water. Or you can plant a rain garden to take advantage of the excess moisture.

During our home inspection process, AmeriSpec personnel check the yard, basement, foundation and roof for signs of possible draining problems. If you have questions, please call us at 402-393-3696 in Omaha or 402-483-2010 in Lincoln.

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