Hardscaping, or the installation of permanent features in your yard like a patio or retaining wall, requires a lot of planning and preparation to make sure it's done right. And one the of the most important areas to plan properly -- even though it's not very thrilling -- is drainage.
Without the right drainage, water will pool up on your patio after it rains, and can make using your yard features more difficult. Minimizing these puddles takes the right grading, or slope preparation, before the patio or yard feature is installed.
Planning the Right Slope
You might think that the best grade is perfectly flat. After all, you probably don't want your patio to feel like the side of a mountain. But in order for rain water to run off, the patio has to be at a slight slope. The rule of thumb is to factor in 1/4-inch of slope for each linear foot of patio space; this lets water run off without making the patio feel like it's pitched.
Creating this ideal slope is one reason why hardscaping projects are best left to the professionals. While homeowners may be able to pave small areas or walkways, larger patios can have pitfalls if not sloped and drained correctly.
Choosing the Right Materials
A plain concrete patio is likely to need some sort of surface drain in order to keep water from pooling up. Many hardscapers are turning to pavers made from materials that better absorb water or installation techniques that let water drain between pavers. There are three types of looks using pavers that are well-suited to drainage:
- Permeable. Pavers are installed with small gaps between them and water drains through these gaps.
- Pervious. The pavers are made of a material, like stone, that's loosely bonded together, giving the appearance of a solid surface but allowing water to run through.
- Pedestal. Pavers are installed above the ground with slight seams that let water flow through.
Your landscaping professional can recommend a style of paver or material that will work well for your specific situation.
Choosing the Right Time to Build
Though patios and other hardscaping projects can be installed year-round, you might consider having your patio constructed in the winter months, or when it rains most in your area.
The more permeable surface of the ground in winter can help with drainage during construction, but more importantly, it can show hardscapers exactly where the problem areas of the yard are located. This can help with the planning in a way that building during warm summer months doesn't. If you are particularly concerned with standing water, constructing a project in winter helps you see and work around the issues.
Talk to your landscaper or hardscaping expert like one from Michael's Landscape Design to make sure your project is prepared properly and will drain well.