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Designing an efficient drainage system as part of your landscape or swimming pool renovation will protect your investment long term. –Chris Cipriano, Northern NJ.

Landscape and pool renovation

If you’re planning a landscape or swimming pool renovation its important to consider proper drainage. Runoff is rainwater that doesn’t percolate into the ground, and handling it is critical in any landscape design. Impervious surfaces are those that resist water infiltration such as your patio or roof. Your home typically has a gutter system that will collect the water that falls on the roof and move it away from your foundation.  Other impervious surfaces include driveways, swimming pools and patios, depending on the materials used and type of installation. You need to consider runoff and drainage when your landscape or swimming pool design alters the shape of the land or the amount of impervious coverage.

Even porous surfaces that normally absorb water get saturated, and effectively become impervious with heavy rainfall. How this happens depends on the surface and the rate at which water can percolate into it. When the rainfall is too great, water will flow downhill and accumulate in low areas causing puddles or flooding.

A good designer can often handle these drainage issues on a residential property simply by designing a new grading plan with proposed transitional elevations. But grading isn’t always enough, and sometimes drainage infrastructure needs to be designed to properly handle the water.

Nobody likes to see soil from planting beds running off into their beautiful swimming pool every time there is a heavy rainstorm. Swales and drains can be designed to handle runoff on the uphill side of the pools that are situated beneath a large slope or waterfall. Area drains are also often designed into the middle or edges of patios to ensure that rain water and soils don’t flood downhill areas. We almost always design French drains around perimeter of new stone patios to maintain usable lawn space even after heavy rainfall.  More importantly they prevent winter runoff from building beneath the patio or heaving during a heavy frost cycle.

A good drainage system should be included in your landscape plans because it is an important investment to protect the future of your landscape. Most municipalities in New York and New Jersey require drainage improvements as part of your landscape or swimming pool renovation, which gives you a layer of protection. Contact your local building department and see what is required if you are planning a landscape or swimming pool renovation that is going to change your impervious coverage percentage. I suggest hiring a reputable landscape architecture or civil engineering firm in your area particularly if there are no drainage requirements.

Planning a drainage system early on in the process will help avoid unforeseen damage, hassle and costs. It will address problems well before they arise, which is much safer and less expensive than going back and altering an existing design to include omitted drainage.