Proper drainage for an Orange County, CA, property can go a long way in keeping it safe and keeping its value intact. Regardless of whether the property features intricate drainage systems or simple ones, proper grading is important to keep the systems performing at their optimum capacity.
Symptoms of poor drainage
The type and magnitude of grading required for a landscape depends on a variety of factors, such as the variations in the gradient across the property, the type of soil, the type of softscaping, and the nature of the drainage solution. Symptoms of drainage problems are often quite evident. Drainage problems can cause a weakening of the structure’s foundations, as well as damp basements that are susceptible to mold. Landscapes with drainage problems often have water pooling on the surface for extended periods (usually more than 72 hours) after rainfalls, as well as excessive soil erosion.
Drainage system solutions
Proper landscape grading plays an integral part in guiding water from rain and downspouts away from the property. Both surface and subsurface drains are put in place to accomplish this. A swale can be considered a shallow V-shaped ditch where water accumulates from the surroundings and is then guided away from the property, and is the simplest form of surface drainage. The water is generally routed to a storm drain or a drainage solution such as a dry well or a french drain. The grade required depends heavily on the amount of water that the landscape receives. Excessive slopes can actually harm the landscape as the rushing water washes away grass and soil, as well as potentially overwhelming the drainage system. Similarly, gradients that are too shallow will not be very effective at routing water away from the property. Moreover, special care has to be taken to accommodate the high flow of water from downspouts and guide it safely away.
Drainage system designs can be quite intricate, depending on the location of the property and its natural slopes. Storm drains are typically located towards the front of a property, which requires a rear to front swale pattern. Such a pattern creates a shallow ditch that accumulates water from the back of the property and directs it along the sides to the front. For properties with a rear yard swale, which is often seen in connected properties, the grading is simpler. Connected properties offer a further challenge of routing water without affecting the drainage characteristics of a neighboring property.
The challenges of hilly terrain
While shallow swales work well for properties with gentle slopes, hilly properties present a bigger challenge and equally complex grading solutions. They can require sourcing and moving large volumes of dirt to reshape the landscape, or the use of heavy machinery to excavate high ground and level it. Oftentimes, drainage solutions such as french drains have to be installed at various points to route water, as grading alone is not feasible.
Grading as a solution
Grading offers an aesthetically pleasing way of controlling the water flow around a property. It also plays an important role in making a property more environmentally friendly by allowing the water to assimilate into the soil, as well as preventing excessive soil erosion. However, the type of grading required for the property can depend on a huge number of factors, which makes it important to consult a grading contractor to plan and execute the grading.