Landscape Grading & Drainage

Landscape grading
is a very important part of any landscape design. Those who have had landscape drainage problems will surely agree!

There are two main sources of water which must be considered. The first is surface water, which comes directly from rain, ending up on the land.

The second actually is from rain also, but in this case it hits the roof of the house, running into the gutters.

These gutters, which can collect a large amount of rain water, connect to leader pipes usually attached to house corners. And where does this water end up? On your property also.

Landscape Drainage Problems

Water can pool on your property. Not only is this annoying, but it can be bad for plants. It can also be a breeding place for mosquitoes.

Related Pages of Interest:

Lawn Drainage

Perforated Pipe

Trench Drains

Driveway Drainage

Rain Gardens

Slope Plantings and Drainage

Drainage Pits
Water can also seep towards your house, causing water to seep into the basement, or even the house itself.

All of this water must be channeled properly.

There are various methods of doing so.

The best method depends on your particular setting and land contouring.

If you would like to learn more about driveway drains and the use of swales for this type of paved area, you can visit my page where I have written very detailed information on Driveway Drainage.

Lawn Drainage

The easiest way to deal with lawn drainage problems is to slope all land, patios, walkways, etc. away from your house. The minimum slope that I work with is two percent, or 1/4 inch per foot. As an example, the grade at a spot four feet away from your house should be one inch lower than the grade at the house. This will assure that water will be directed away from the building. This requires re-grading if your land slopes towards your house.


I have written an interesting page on landscaping steep slopes. There are some excellent tips to help you with correct percentage of slopes, knowing what is acceptable landscape grading, and how to visualize them!

You can also create a swale, which is actually a subtle drainage ditch.

Imagine a stream. The land at the stream edges are higher than the stream itself. Yet the stream itself is sloped and flows downward along its length. This is often extremely subtle and not obvious. A swale is similar, except it is created in the lawn.

This shows a drainage swale although it can also be more subtle.

This shows landscape grading with a swale and pipe.

This type of lawn drainage can lead the surface water to a lower elevation on your property, such as woods. It is also possible that landscape grading can be done so that the water from the drainage swale eventually just dissipates.

It can also lead to a pipe as shown in the above image.

Landscape Drains

The swale can also bring the water to a landscape drain. This is a contained device with a grate cover. The water enters these types of landscape drains, which are set at lower elevations. A solid pipe is connected to the container, so that when the water enters this area drain, it flows into the pipe. The pipe should be pitched at two percent.

The pipe should also be sized correctly to carry the amount of calculated water. The pipe then leads the water away to a desirable area. This may be a wooded area, a drainage pit, or even a rain garden. You can learn more about this by visiting my page on rain garden design.

Landscape Drainage With Pipes

Sometimes water must drain to an area where there is planting beds and no lawn. In this case, you can install a perforated pipe, which is simply a solid pipe with holes on the top where water enters. This then connects to a solid pipe which leads the water away from the area. Another type of drainage pipe would be trench drains.

Landscape grading can be carried out in various ways, but it is something that should be considered, if possible, in conjunction with your landscape design. In this way, your landscape can be created for both aesthetics and function, and drainage problems will be eliminated. If drainage problems arise later, successful landscape grading and drainage can still be accomplished, but with a bit more difficulty.

Questions About Landscape Grading and Drainage?

Do you have a question about landscape grading or drainage problems that you need some help with? Here is the place to ask! The more information you can give, the better I can answer. And photos are a great help too!

I decided to create this section due to the many questions people have regarding grading and drainage issues.

You may ask a question yourself, comment on or answer questions of others. All helpful comments will be greatly appreciated! Also take a look at the other Q&A on this topic (below).

Questions and Answers of Other Visitors

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

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Retaining Wall and House Grading Conundrum 
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NJ Law Regarding Changing Property Drainage Between Neighbors  
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Wet Yard and Drainage Pits 
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Water Creating Flooding at Garage/Carport From Hill 
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Water on Side Entering Basement  
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Problem With Drainage in Yard at Pool 
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correct grading from street to fence line 
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Water in the Basement - Grading or Water Proofing 
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drainage of rain water  
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Backyard Drainage  
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Basement water at house pools 
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what type of soil or fill should be used to help lawn drainage 
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Dry Wells, Retaining Wall Drainage and French Drains 
Here are questions about dry wells, retaining wall drainage and french drains. Good morning. My yard has a hill that comes towards the back of the …

Help! Neighbor changed grade to flood my backyard! 
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Planting Boxwoods over French Drain 
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Small yard roof drainage question 
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Residential property re-grading due to drainage problems 
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Click here to write your own.

Front yard drainage challenge 
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front yard runoff and storm water control 
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Drainage for slab on grade construction 
This question is regarding the proper way to create drainage for a slab on grade construction. We live in a condo, which is a slab on grade and wood …

Patio regrading 
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Driveway Drainage and Trench Drains 
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Drainage And A Patio Seatwall 
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Driveway Area Flooding 
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House Settling
New Home Landscaping
This article is from a company that deals with house settling and new home landscaping. Here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada we do a lot of landscaping …

Drainage Issues From Neighbor 
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Grading and Drainage Problems | House Foundation and On a Hill 
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Storm Water Drainage Challenge 
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Drainage Systems and Stone Walls 
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Retaining Wall Drainage 
Retaining wall drainage is something that should be well thought out and designed. Improper water management is a leading cause of retaining wall failures. …

Concrete Driveway Drainage - Water Drains Into Garage 
I have a concrete driveway drainage problem. On one side of my garage the concrete goes back about 15 feet on the side of the garage. The water from my …

Drainage Systems For Yards - How To Solve With a Swale 
I need information on drainage systems for yards and how to solve with a swale. I have a real challenge for you and I hope you can help me. I live on …

Grading Away From House and Basement Water Problems 
Grading Away From House and Basement Water Problems We live in a ranch house in Delaware. Original house was on a cement slab. We added an addition …

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