Front yard drainage challenge
by Dick Adams
Front Yard Lawn Erosion
Hello, Susan, and thanks!
Our front yard runs 80' west to east, 20' wide, with maybe a 8% grade going down hill. We have a beautiful two foot maple tree 50 feet from the west end. It used to collect water in a rainfall and send it all downhill, washing out grass and seed. I put in a wooden barrier to the water run-off and it worked to keep the seed and grass. See pictures.
Now I want to replace it with a permanent "nice" fix. Research indicates a French drain (perforated pipe in gravel) is probably best. However, I am reluctant to put grass over the gravel because I think eventually the water will just run over this, too. Leaving the gravel exposed is not desirable. What thoughts do you have?
Thanks for your help!
I am not in favor of the perforated pipe in this particular situation. This is because gravel would be exposed (as you mentioned) and I can't see anyway to work this into a design. Typically, grass is not placed over a perforated pipe. These types of drainage systems are used at the edges of beds, up against a house, along patios, etc., but not out in open lawn.
If your grass is now established, perhaps the drainage problem has been alleviated and you do not need anything. Is this a possibility? If not, I would recommend
placing a bed around the tree and planting ground cover in the bed. You could use Pachysandra or Vinca. That way, water will percolate into the soil for the plants, seed in that area will not be necessary, and problems will be solved.
I appreciate your photos (really!), but it is hard to tell how steep the grade is and the condition of the lawn at this time. Sometimes the simplest method to solve a drainage problem is the best.
Apparently you have been working to address this for some time and have done a bit of research to. So let me know if I am missing something, if I am not seeing things correctly, or please provide me with any other information I might need. It looks like there is a walkway (sidewalk?) near the tree, but I can't make that out. Sometimes, you can connect a planting be to a walk, but the walk I see seems to be not made of any particular hardscape.
One last thing. Often in these situation swales can be a solution too. To use this method, you would have to regrade the area and create a "lawn ditch" which would take the water into the street. This could possibly work too, depending on the existing grades. However, if the planting bed (or nothing!) would work, that would be easier.
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"Susan, what a pleasure it was to work with you. You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly! Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant. You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes. Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"