Using Landscape Excavation for Better Drainage and Runoff

Many drainage and runoff issues encountered in San Clemente, CA landscaping are easily solved by simply altering the path the water takes. This can be done by using landscape excavation to alter a plot’s original topography to take advantage of natural forces - gravity, ground permeability and percolation. Other times artificial means can be put into place in order to aid these processes. Here we’ll take a look at some of these methods in greater detail.

Using Landscape Excavation for Better Drainage and Runoff in San Clemente, CA


Flat expanses of land, particularly where the ground is dense, compacted or high in clay, have a tendency to suffer from pooling of surface water. One solution, in the reshaping of a landscape, is constructing a slope. A gentle gradient can often be enough to allow effective runoff and redirect the water toward drainage systems or storm drains. Steeper slopes can offer a dramatic visual effect, however caution must be taken to reduce soil erosion. This can be done by incorporating plants or ground cover with deep, tightly knit root systems.

Tiered retaining walls

Retaining walls provide effective drainage by necessity. Without it, the outward pressure of water behind the wall can wreak havoc. With the use of proper drainage systems and backfill methods, tiered retaining walls effectively reduce runoff and soil erosion. Tiered systems housing plantbeds can also increase the efficiency of irrigation systems. By arranging plants requiring the most water on the top tier and plants requiring the least water on the bottom tier, irrigation need only be supplied to the upper level. Gravity and proper drainage then ensure that the plants on lower levels receive the water they need.

Permeable pavers

Permeable pavers drastically reduce stormwater runoff by allowing water to pass rapidly through them. Nestled on a bed of geotextile and gravel, water permeating the pavers can then percolate back into natural ground water systems or be collected in drainage systems and rainwater tanks for redistribution or reabsorption. As well as reducing runoff, permeable pavers also serve as a filtration system for any water that is collected. Because of their growing popularity and widespread use in sustainable landscaping and city planning, permeable pavers are currently available in a wide range of styles, often visually indistinguishable from their non-permeable counterparts.


Swales are shallow ridges dug into the ground in order to redirect runoff as well as to limit the amount of water flowing into storm drains. Particularly in cities, stormwater runoff carries with it a range of pollutants and litter that is then normally deposited into rivers or streams. For this reason, swales are not just good for landscape drainage, they’re also a great way to contribute to a thriving environment. In order to prevent swales from become excessively marshy, some form of lining, as well as correct elevation is essential. The lining of a swale can range from plants that thrive in damp conditions to natural rock arrangements, pebbles or river stones. As the water travels along the swale channel, it simultaneously reduces in flow by soaking back into the ground. Meanwhile, plants catch and filter trash and dust, helping to ensure cleaner stormwater runoff.