Why Do I Have Standing Water in My Yard?

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Keeping your lawn green and pristine is a matter of homeownership pride. It can be upsetting to find a growing puddle of standing water right in the middle of your landscaping. Not only does stagnant water kill your grass, but it also damages ornamental plants and compromises your home’s foundation. Standing water can also be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and a symptom of larger problems.

What causes water to accumulate on your lawn? What are the best methods of eliminating standing water? If you are asking these questions, you’re not alone. American Home Shield® is here to help with key information that homeowners need to know.

Causes of Standing Water in the Yard

When stagnant water forms on your property, it can be a sign of either easily correctable habits or more fundamental design flaws.

The following are common culprits in cases of both front and backyard standing water:

  • Grading. Lawns should be graded (or leveled) to ensure proper drainage. The slope should trend away from the house, and run-off should be directed down toward the street, alleyway, or storm sewer. If your landscaping doesn’t incorporate proper drainage angles, water may collect on your lawn faster than it can drain. Improper drainage can also cause natural low spots in your yard to accumulate more water with each rainfall.

  • Permeability. Proper drainage also depends on your lawn’s permeability. A permeable lawn allows water to seep into the earth instead of collecting on the surface. If grass clippings or leaf litter clog your lawn, they can prevent the soil from absorbing water as it would under normal conditions. 

  • Soils. Another cause of standing water in your yard could be the density of your dirt. Hard, compact soils and heavy, sticky clay soils are less absorbent and prevent surface water from seeping into the ground.

  • Hard subsoil. Hardpan is a thick layer of impervious subsoil. Hardpan can be naturally occurring, or it can be the result of construction equipment densely compacting yards and lawns that are then topped with a layer of topsoil, disguising the issue. Once water percolates down to the hardpan, it has nowhere else to go and begins pooling.

  • High water table. Is there standing water in your yard after a rain? As rain seeps into the earth, it becomes groundwater. This groundwater forms a water table, a completely saturated level of subsurface soil and rock. However, the water table can rise very close to the surface in some instances, creating waterlogged conditions. 

Standing Water in the Yard: Solutions

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Fortunately, there are several ways you can mitigate stagnant water. Depending on the ultimate cause of the issue, you can take immediate action to boost your lawn’s ability to shed water. Try these solutions:

  • Give your lawn the right amount of water. If your home is equipped with an automatic sprinkler or irrigation system, you may need to make certain adjustments to address a problem with standing water. Try watering your lawn less frequently or for shorter periods of time. If altering your water maintenance habits doesn’t correct the issue, further investigation may be necessary.

  • Re-grade. Consult with a professional landscaper who can help you re-grade the terrain around your home. They can give you some helpful backyard ideas regarding the standing water problem and help you correct the issue. Ask the landscaper to provide a survey of your lawn’s low-lying points, natural channels, and drainage outlets. 

  • Rake your lawn. You can remove heavy layers of leaf litter and grass clippings using a dethatcher, a vertical mower, or even a simple lawn rake. Once you’ve removed the plant debris, pierce the turf with a garden fork or a lawn aerator. The small holes you make should be at least four inches deep and spaced two inches apart. Aerated soil is not only soil that drains properly—it’s also healthier soil.

  • Break it up. Work organic matter into your soil to make your lawn more amenable to water absorption. Garden compost, leaf mold, and manure will open the soil up and create smaller channels through which water can escape.

  • Dig. For hardpan problems, a shovel may be the best solution. If the hardpan is less than two feet thick, wait for a dry spell and then dig up as much as possible. If you can’t break up the hardpan yourself, consult with a professional contractor who specializes in drilling through the densely packed subsoil.

  • Improve drainage with deeper lawn borders. A high water table is a difficult issue to address—you’ll probably just have to work around it. However, you can still improve drainage by increasing the depth of your lawn borders. You can also add layers of soil to create raised beds.

  • Build a rain garden. A rain garden is a great way to eliminate standing water in your backyard because it collects run-off water and uses it to water shallow-rooted plants capable of surviving wet conditions. 

  • Install a French drain. A French drain (also known as a curtain drain) is a comprehensive drainage system made from rather simple materials. A graded trench directs the flow of water away from the home. The trench is then filled in with gravel, which lets gravity do the work of channeling the water into a perforated pipe that sits at the trench’s base.

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Don’t let standing water keep you and your family from enjoying the outdoor areas around your home. By identifying the cause of your drainage problem and utilizing these solutions, you can ensure that your yard will be pristine in no time. 

Consider getting an American Home Shield® home warranty to help protect your budget. While we don’t cover outdoor plumbing, we do offer coverage for parts of up to 23 home systems and appliances, like the plumbing system inside of your home. View our plans and pricing today.

AHS offers Appliance Warranties and protection plans. 

Check out our backyard tips and ideas for getting your backyard ready for summer

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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