The Q&A Archives: Backyard with Poor Drainage

Question: I wish i could send a picture. My backyard gets lots of standing water when it rains. We also get a lot of runoff from the neighbors. Any suggestions? Thanks for being available. This is great! Newlywed/new home owner Justin and Marie

Answer: Congratulations on your new marriage and your new home! Sounds as though your backyard is a prime candidate for a curtain drain or French drain. Simply stated, you dig a trench all along the property lines then lay several inches of gravel, top with a perforated PVC tube, cover that with more gravel, then put the soil back on top of everything. The holes in the pipe or tube will allow excess water to percolate in and drain off the property. Until you can install some drainage, you can plant some soggy soil tolerant plants. You may need to experiment a bit to find which perennials do the best for you, before going whole hog and making extensive plantings of any one thing. However some which tolerate fairly damp situations would include Japanese Iris, Yellow Flag Iris, Hibiscus moscheutos (rose mallow), Joe Pye Weed, lobelia, monarda, lady's mantle and some of the ornamental grasses. Occasionally you will also find that Black-Eyed Susan, Siberian Iris, daylilies (hemerocallis), astilbe, forget-me-nots and assorted hosta will also thrive in a damp spot. Good luck with your plantings!

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