Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (2024)

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (1)The following approaches to redirect and capture runoff can be used to control heavy runoff causing prolonged wet areas or yard erosion.

If you have heavy runoff from roof downspouts and neighboring properties, redirecting or capturing runoff can provide better control. These techniques will minimize the amount of water that accumulates or that causes erosion in the problem area. Many of the practices described below can be used in tandem: for example, you can safely redirect runoff and then capture it and allow it to soak into the soil.

Capture Runoff: Rain Barrels, Rain Gardens, Soil Amendment, Terraces, Dry Wells. »

Redirect Runoff: Swales, French Drains, Catch Basins, Downspout Extensions. »

Capture and Store Runoff

Runoff can be captured and stored for use or allowed to soak into the soil. Rain barrels and cisterns are used for storage. Dry wells, soil amendment and rain gardens are used to infiltrate water into the soil.

These solutions have many environmental benefits: reducing runoff from your property, filtering runoff, watering your yard and recharging groundwater. They can also be combined with structures that redirect runoff. For instance, a grassy swale or downspout extension can be built to deliver runoff to a dry well or rain garden.

However, these practices may not be appropriate for every location.

  • Rain gardens or dry wells should not be located next to the foundation of the home to avoid water problems in the basement or foundation.
  • If your soil has a poor infiltration rate, an underdrain may need to be included in the design of a rain garden or dry well. Soil with high groundwater or very shallow depths to bedrock are also problematic. Find your soil type using Soil Survey maps. Before installing a rain garden or dry well, you should also do an infiltration test.

If more than 2500 square feet will be disturbed in constructing one of these practices, you will need a permit in Fairfax County. See: Site-Related Plans. In other jurisdictions, refer to local codes and ordinances.

1. Rain Barrel or Cistern

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (4)A rain barrel is a large container that attaches to the end of a downspout and stores water for later use, such as watering your garden or lawn. Rain barrels come in many shapes and sizes. A typical rain barrel holds about 50 gallons of water. Larger cisterns can hold hundreds or even thousands of gallons. Rain barrels are simple to install and inexpensive. Unless you have a cistern, this option generally does not provide enough storage capacity to greatly reduce the amount of runoff flowing to the lawn during large storms. Rather, rain barrels are most useful as an addition to other stormwater controls.

  • An overflow device allows excess water to escape when the barrel or cistern is full. Use corrugated plastic tubing to direct overflow away from the foundation of your home.
  • A downspout can be connected to one or more rain barrel(s). Connecting rain barrels increases the amount of runoff that can be captured.
  • For more information, see: Rain Barrel Workshops

2. Rain Garden

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (5)A rain garden is a heavily planted landscaped depression situated in the path of runoff flow, with permeable soil. During storms, runoff will pool on the surface of the rain garden and soak into the soil, filtering the water and recharging groundwater.

The proper functioning of a rain garden depends on the permeability of the natural soil. In the absence of adequate permeability, an underdrain may be needed to allow filtered water to be discharged, which can add to the expense and time of construction.

In the rain garden, the natural soil is amended or replaced with a mixture of sand, topsoil and organic compost (or a pre-made rain garden mix). The depth of these amendments can vary depending on the effort and resources that you wish to commit, but eighteen inches should be considered a minimum. Underneath the amended soil, an optional gravel or sand bed stores stormwater so that it may soak into the underlying natural soil.

Rain gardens can be a good solution to large, widespread drainage problems in a backyard. They can come in many styles and sizes. Larger and deeper rain gardens will treat more runoff, smaller and shallower rain gardens will treat less, but all properly functioning rain gardens will reduce polluted stormwater and help to recharge groundwater.

More information and instructions for designing and building a backyard rain garden are available from NVSWCD's Rain Garden Design and Construction: A Guide for Homeowners or the Seven Myths about Rain Gardens article.

3. Soil Amendment or Compost Blanket

Often urban and suburban soil is dense, compacted and has low fertility. Adding organic matter or compost to the soil reduces soil density and improves soil structure. Structure refers to the clumping together of soil particles. Soil with good structure is more porous, promoting infiltration and reducing runoff. Soil amendment also improves the health and productivity of your soil by adding a long-term source of nutrients and organic matter. There are two general approaches.

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (6) Low intensity method:

Compost blanket. Put down a thin layer of compost and rake it in to your lawn, making sure that you do not bury your grass or other existing vegetation. If you are applying compost to a bare spot or un-vegetated section of your property, you may add a thicker layer.

What should you use for compost? You can purchase compost commercially, although you can also use leaf mulch. There are pick-up sites across the county for free leaf mulch. For an even simpler approach, you can recycle the organic matter you have on site by leaving grass clippings on the lawn (grass-cycling) and mowing your fall leaves into your lawn instead of bagging them. The clippings and mowed leaves will break down on their own and become compost in the soil. It may take a few seasons to see noticeable change in your soil.

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (7) High intensity method:

Soil Amendment. Think of a farmer plowing a field. Heavy-duty soil amending is basically the same thing. Instead of adding seeds, you will be mixing compost into your soil. This option is more costly and more intense (you’ll have to tear up your lawn!) but the results will be immediate and noticeable.

First, choose the area of your property that you wish to amend. Based on that area, you can calculate how much compost you’ll need. There is no set rule, but if you are going to use the more intense method, we recommend using at least four inches, if not more. You can either hire a landscaper or rent a rototiller or small backhoe. Till down 10 inches to two feet to mix in your compost. You can purchase compost commercially, or you can also get leaf mulch from the county for free. Be aware that the free leaf mulch from the county is not always of consistent quality, will not be fully decomposed and may contain weed seeds. Replant with your preferred vegetation immediately.

Terraces can often be backfilled with soil amendment to slow down runoff and also improve infiltration. For more information, see: How to Protect Eroding Land - Terraces

4. Dry Well (Infiltration Trench)

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (9)A dry well or infiltration trench is a gravel-filled underground storage area. Water captured by a dry well is stored in the void spaces between the gravel until it infiltrates slowly into the ground or flows out through an underdrain.

  • The sides of the dry well (not the bottom) are lined with landscape fabric.
  • Water can be directed to a dry well from a downspout or other pipe.
  • It may be used as a walkway or covered with topsoil and sod.
  • It is best to excavate until a permeable soil layer is found. A dry well is only a good option if a permeable layer of soil is found within a reasonable depth. If no such layer exists, a dry well might not be a good solution.

Redirect Runoff

Intercepting and redirecting runoff provides an opportunity to safely discharge the volume to a place beyond the problem area. This can be done using swales, French drains, catch basins or downspout and sump pump extensions. These methods of rerouting can be combined together with capture and storage practices (see below).

Whenever you are redirecting runoff, you must send it to a suitable outlet. Discharging runoff to an unsuitable area will just move the problems downhill. Be aware that redirecting runoff without soaking it into the soil can negatively impact neighboring properties.

1. Swale

A swale is a wide, shallow ditch in which water can flow to a suitable outlet. The channel should be protected with grass or other vegetation. It also can be lined with appropriately sized stone to prevent erosion within the swale.

Stone is preferable in swales in which grass does not grow well due to shade or that are too steep or long for grass to prevent erosion. A swale lined with stone is sometimes called a dry creek bed. Stones used can be of varying sizes, with larger ones acting as stabilizers and smaller ones as fillers. Generally, the heavier the flows the larger the stones should be. Tightly woven landscape fabric should be placed below the stone lining.

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (10)Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (11)

2. French Drain

A French drain is an underground drainage device. It consists of a perforated pipe surrounded by gravel and lined with sturdy landscape fabric. A French drain conveys runoff underground to a suitable outlet. Downspout pipes and sump pump pipes can be connected to it, and a catch basin can be combined with it to help remove standing water. Deeper French drains can also be used to drain groundwater.

Tips for building a French drain. Pre-assembled French drain options (such as EZ-Drain) can save time and effort in installation.

  1. Dig out a ditch where your French drain will go. A standard French drain ditch is about 1.5 feet deep and 10-12 inches wide, varying based on the size of the pipe chosen (usually 4-6 inches) and the desired depth.
  2. Line the ditch on all sides with landscape fabric to prevent soil erosion.
  3. Place a layer of gravel at the bottom of the ditch.
  4. A perforated plastic pipe is laid on top of the gravel and surrounded by gravel on the sides and top.
  5. If topsoil and sod will be used to cover the French drain, the landscape fabric should be pulled over the top of the gravel before adding the topsoil.
  6. If the gravel will be left exposed at the ground surface, the landscape fabric does not need to be pulled over the top of the gravel, but the edges should be protected to prevent sediment from entering the French drain.

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (12)Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (13)

3. Catch Basin

A catch basin is a collection box with a slotted drain at the top and a drainage outlet at the bottom. Surface runoff enters the inlet, passes through the collection box and exits through the outlet into a buried drainpipe. The catch basin should be placed at a low spot on the property so that water naturally runs to it (a grassy swale can be built to direct runoff to the basin). The buried drainpipe should discharge to a suitable outlet.

Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (14)Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (15)

4. Splash Blocks and Downspout Extensions

Splash blocks and corrugated plastic pipe also can be used to direct roof runoff from downspouts or sump pumps away from foundation walls to a suitable area. See: Splash Blocks and Downspouts

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Control Heavy Runoff - Solving Drainage and Erosion Problems (2024)


How do you control heavy runoff? ›

What can you do to reduce the runoff from your property?
  1. Disconnect/Redirect Downspouts.
  2. Use a rain barrel to capture rain from your roof.
  3. Plant a rain garden.
  4. Plant trees.
  5. Reduce impervious surfaces; install permeable pavement.
  6. Plant a green roof.

How can we prevent erosion and runoff? ›

How to Stop Water Erosion
  1. Method 1- Planting and Hydroseeding. ...
  2. Method 2 – Mulch. ...
  3. Method 3 – Compost Socks and Erosion Control Berms. ...
  4. Method 4 – Retaining Walls. ...
  5. Method 5 – Diversions and Drainage Ditches.
Dec 2, 2021

What are five methods to reduce or control erosion? ›

You can reduce soil erosion by:
  • Maintaining a healthy, perennial plant cover.
  • Mulching.
  • Planting a cover crop – such as winter rye in vegetable gardens. ...
  • Placing crushed stone, wood chips, and other similar materials in heavily used areas where vegetation is hard to establish and maintain.

What are some controls of runoff? ›

Some ways to help control runoff are preventing soil erosion, providing basement flood protection, landscaping, providing proper roof drainage, and minimizing paved surfaces.

What are three runoff reduction methods? ›

Runoff can be reduced via canopy interception, soil infiltration, evaporation, transpi- ration, rainfall harvesting, engineered infiltration, or extended filtration.

How do you control water runoff on a slope? ›

Divert or Slow Down Water

Divert flow away from steep areas. A swale or berm along the top of a slope or diagonally across a slope can be used to divert runoff to a more stable area and prevent erosive flow down the slope.

What are 3 methods of erosion control? ›

For heavy erosion in areas of concentrated flow, the most effective solutions are check dams or terraces.
  • Replant Vegetation Suited to Site Conditions. Well-established vegetation can stabilize the soil in cases of light erosion. ...
  • Footpaths with Exposed Soil: Cover with Mulch or Gravel. ...
  • Terraces. ...
  • Build Check Dams.

What are 6 ways we can control erosion? ›

From: Soil erosion – Footsteps 15
  • COVER methods.
  • Mulching. ...
  • Cover crops and green manures. ...
  • Green manures - also usually legumes - are planted specially to improve soil fertility by returning fresh leafy material to the soil. ...
  • Mixed cropping and inter-cropping. ...
  • Early planting. ...
  • Crop residues. ...
  • Agroforestry.

How do I control erosion in my yard? ›

7 Effective Ways You Can Stop Erosion in Your Yard
  1. Mulch the Area. ...
  2. Strategically Place Stones. ...
  3. Build a Retaining Wall. ...
  4. Install Stepped Terraces. ...
  5. Plant a Rain Garden. ...
  6. Add Some Grass. ...
  7. Install an Erosion Control Blanket.
May 12, 2022

What is the most effective form of erosion control? ›

Leave established vegetation undisturbed when possible; it is one of the most effective and least expensive methods to reduce erosion.

What is the most effective erosion control measures? ›

Furrow cultivation on contours has been found to be the most effective soil conservation measure. Contour farming is recommended for lands with the slope range of 2 to 7%.

What is the best erosion control practice? ›

Erosion prevention practices, which mostly include soil preparation, vegetation, and the application of a mulch, blanket, mat, or other cover on bare soil, are the easiest, cheapest, and most effective approach for addressing runoff from construction sites.

Which feature helps reduce the amount of runoff? ›

Trees and forests improve stream quality and watershed health primarily by decreasing the amount of stormwater runoff and pollutants that reaches our local waters.

What is the purpose of runoff control? ›

Runoff control structures are designed to capture runoff during peak flows, and can function as temporary storage sites. These structures are typically built with a discharge component to slowly release water into the nearby waterway to avoid it overflowing from the storage basin.

How do you redirect water runoff? ›

Redirect Runoff. Intercepting and redirecting runoff provides an opportunity to safely discharge the volume to a place beyond the problem area. This can be done using swales, French drains, catch basins or downspout and sump pump extensions.

What are the 5 factors that increase runoff? ›

Meteorological factors affecting runoff:
  • Type of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, etc.)
  • Rainfall intensity.
  • Rainfall amount.
  • Rainfall duration.
  • Distribution of rainfall over the drainage basin.
  • Direction of storm movement.
  • Precipitation that occurred earlier and resulting soil moisture.
Jun 8, 2019

What is the most common method for the estimation of runoff? ›

The most common method of calculating the amount of rainfall converted to runoff is the SCS Curve Number (CN) Method, originally presented in the National Engineering Handbook, Section 4 (NEH-4).

What are the 5 factors that determine the amount of runoff? ›

Watershed size, topography, shape, orientation, geology, interflow, soil, and land use are important factors in determining runoff volumes.

What do you put on slope to prevent erosion? ›

Plant on slopes that are this steep, but be aware you may need to use an erosion control blanket, mats of coconut fiber, or jute netting to hold slopes in place until plants can become established. it's easy to prevent erosion on your sloped property.

How do I divert water runoff from my driveway? ›

How to Divert Water Runoff from Driveway. Dig a trench. Use a shallow, gravel-filled trench to catch and slow runoff, especially at the base of a slope or alongside a driveway or patio. For slopes, consider creating a dry creek to catch, slow down and direct runoff, perhaps to a rain garden (see below).

What are seven ways to control erosion? ›

Here are seven ideas for reducing erosion.
  • 1 - Start using minimum tillage - soon. ...
  • 3 - Keep crop residue in the field. ...
  • 4 - Consider going narrower at planting time. ...
  • 5 - What's the right direction to plant? ...
  • 6 - Don't underestimate the power of cover crops. ...
  • 7 - Be a good steward and protect your land for future generations!

What is the best natural defense against erosion? ›

The best natural defense against erosion are trees and other plants. Their roots help keep the soil in place so the water or wind can't carry it away, and their presence also slows down the speed of water flowing through the soil.

How do you prevent erosion on a sloped driveway? ›

If you want to prevent erosion near your driveway, direct any downspouts away from it. Of course, you could still end up with erosion from direct rainfall over time, which is why you'll need to seal your concrete driveway with caulking to prevent water from leaking in.

What are some ways that erosion is controlled naturally? ›

Grass and shrubs are very effective at stopping soil erosion. This is primarily because plant roots tend to hold soil together, making it harder to erode. The leaves of the plants also help to reduce the velocity of raindrops falling on the ground, making it harder for them to dislodge the soil and erode it.

What device should you use to prevent erosion? ›

Erosion prevention practices - erosion control blankets and anchoring devices. Erosion control blankets (ECBs) are typically biodegradable, open-weave blankets that provide temporary cover and support for establishing vegetation on bare soil areas.

What material is most resistant to erosion? ›

  • Epoxy Emery Coating.
  • Composite Nylon Coating.
  • Rubber Coating of polyurethane.
  • Composite Enamel Coating.

What are 4 protective measures prevented or slow shoreline erosion? ›

CONSIDER COASTAL EROSION STRUCTURES Seawalls, revetments, bulkheads, groins and breakwaters may reduce erosion in the short-term.

What are two categories of erosion control? ›

To accomplish this installation of devices meant to slow down the water is needed. These come in two different forms: erosion control blankets and fiber rolls. Erosion control blankets are usually woven from a chosen material and are meant to slow down the speed at which water moves across the surface.

How can we control decrease runoff infiltration? ›

Rain Harvesting (Bulk or Rain Barrels)

Capturing rainwater for reuse can significantly reduce runoff, and it also provides an alternative source of water for irrigation and other household uses.

Will gravel around house help drainage? ›

Gravel Beds Provide Natural Drainage

Water drains more quickly through gravel compared to most types of soil, so puddles form less-readily on gravel-covered pathways and borders than they do on soil surfaces.

How can we solve rainwater drainage problems? ›

One popular solution to a drainage problem is to route rain water to a low point in your yard where it can flow away from the house naturally over rocks in a dry creek bed. In particularly heavy storm events, the debris washed away from by excess water will be captured in a catch basin (pictured).

Does gravel help with drainage? ›

Landscaping gravel also provides much-needed drainage so that water doesn't collect around the roots. Gravel and stone are easy to spread and easy to maintain.

What happens when there is too much runoff? ›

Urban and suburban stormwater runoff erodes streams, kills fish, pollutes swimming beaches, floods homes, and causes many other problems. Stormwater runoff collects an often-toxic mix of pollutants including: Trash. Soil and sediment.

How can homeowners reduce runoff? ›

What can I do to prevent runoff pollution?
  1. Use a car wash that recycles water or wash it on the lawn with a bucket where soapy runoff will be filtered by the lawn.
  2. Sweep and compost grass clippings and leaves from the driveway, street, and walkway.
  3. Keep your car well maintained.

What is considered too heavy of a flow? ›

If you need to change your tampon or pad after less than 2 hours or you pass clots the size of a quarter or larger, that is heavy bleeding. If you have this type of bleeding, you should see a doctor. Untreated heavy or prolonged bleeding can stop you from living your life to the fullest.

What causes extremely heavy flow? ›

If a hormone imbalance occurs, the endometrium develops in excess and eventually sheds by way of heavy menstrual bleeding. A number of conditions can cause hormone imbalances, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, insulin resistance and thyroid problems. Dysfunction of the ovaries.

Why is my flow so heavy and Clotty? ›

Growths like polyps and fibroids can settle in the uterus and its lining and can cause your period to become heavier and longer than usual. There are many types of benign fibroids, but submucosal fibroids (fibroids that grow inside the uterine cavity) are the most likely to cause heavy bleeding and large clotting.

Why would you want to control runoff? ›

Reducing runoff can help prevent water pollution, reduce flooding, and protect our precious drinking water resources.

What is the biggest contributor to runoff? ›

Residential homes and busy roadways have both been identified as leading causes of runoff pollution in urban areas around the world.

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