Planting flowers, landscaping

3 Landscaping Tips for Better Drainage

Donna Campbell Home Owner Associations

Rain and snow runoff in the spring can cause flooding in your HOA. This flooding can cause ponding in lawn areas, impassable streets, and possibly even damage to your pavement. Standing water is also a breeding ground for pests such as mosquitoes. You can combat this flooding with better drainage solutions, and that includes your landscaping choices.

If you’ve got noticeable flooding, you may want to have your landscaping or paving contractor do a site walkthrough, complete with ‘shooting the grades’ to see if you need better drainage, or if you need to re-pave areas with improper sloping.

You can also check out these three landscaping drainage solutions to help clear up or divert excess stormwater in your community.

Tip 1: Do Proper Mulching

Aggressive leaf blowing and well-intended clean up by landscaping contractors can sometimes leave topsoil exposed. Heavy rain can then erode the topsoil which leaves you with impacted clay and poor drainage. You need several inches of mulch to capture rainwater and divert it from areas that are prone to flooding. Mulching is also important for proper plant care and protection.

Tip 2: Create A Bog

Landscaping plants can be a great drainage solution for areas with a small amount of excess water. Manmade bogs are slow-draining soil areas with water-loving plants combined to mimic natural bog conditions.

First, choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sun each day. Then, plant a mix of species including ground cover and tall plants. Make sure you allow enough space for larger species to grow. Keep your bog area watered during dry spells with a drip hose.

Tip 3: Use Grassy Swales

Grassy swales can be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to your storm sewer system and can be designed to redirect water to your bog or a drain. Swales are an engineered landscape feature that appear as a low, open channel. They slowly down stormwater and act as a filter to remove pollutants. Stormwater usually drains through the soil within hours to days.

When HOA Residents Go Rogue…

Above we mention the HOA-controlled solutions that you may want to consider for proper drainage. But in a residential community, there’s always an x-factor. In this case, it’s your residents.

Sometimes they just can’t help themselves because they love hydrangeas. Other times they’re rebelling against what the HOA has planted or not planted. This passive-aggressive landscaping war is more than just annoying, it’s potentially bad news for your drainage. Depending on what they rip out (something intended for better drainage) or add (something that blocks drainage) you may end up with a problem.

Communication is important if you’d like better control over what residents are planting and removing. Here are tips to get everyone on the same page:

  • Create clear landscaping guidelines and put them on your HOA website
  • Send an HOA newsletter to announce seasonal landscaping plans and services (reiterate the rules)
  • Send your property manager to HOA board meetings to answer questions

Preventing Pavement Problems With Better Drainage

Proper drainage will help divert excess water from your paved areas. This will extend the life of your asphalt and concrete. Once you have cracking, potholes or sinkholes, you’re in for some potentially expensive repairs that could have been prevented. Pavement damage also leaves you at risk for litigation for damage to personal property or even bodily injury.

We suggest taking a walk in early spring to assess common damage (such as cracked pavement) to association infrastructure. You can use our handy HOA Spring Maintenance Inspection Checklist to get started.

If you have pavement damage in your association, we can help. Contact one of our paving consultants for an onsite visit to your community to learn more about your options.