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Stormwater Management: Runoff Tools


Be sure to prepare your clients for storms that can bring excessive rainfall and flooding.

September 3, 2021

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Stormwater Management: Runoff Tools


Be sure to prepare your clients for springtime storms that can bring excessive rainfall and flooding.

As a contractor, you know that landscapes with proper drainage conserve irrigation and reduce pollutants. Ideally, the client’s drainage system should protect the property, maximize outdoor space usability, and prevent future storm water problems. According to NDS, proper stormwater management can prevent flood damage and increase the value of a home by up to 15%. If your client does not have a well-managed stormwater system, consider it a business opportunity, especially during the rainy spring months where runoff is plentiful. You could add a sizable increase to your bottom line by addressing some of these issues on your existing jobsites. 


Initial Management Review
Take time to call your clients after a storm while the runoff and ponding are top of mind. Before starting your work, take inventory of how the landscape reacts to rainwater and large storms. Identify potential/current issues by observing where the rain falls and how it flows through the yard, also noting where the surfaces interact and puddles form. Puddles should only last up to 24 hours, otherwise, you probably need to install drainage to remedy poor soil infiltration and/or too much runoff water. Before installing a drainage system, check if your customer has a septic system and ensure you do not disturb the leach field area or change the flow of water for the system. Also assess potential pollutant sites (i.e. a fertilized garden) and ensure that all utilities on the lot are clearly marked and accounted for. 


Runoff 
Runoff from a home’s roof or gutter system is one of the most common stormwater problems. Remember to inspect these for any issues. Downspouts are typically ineffective alone in preventing runoff issues and can lead to washed out landscape beds, wet crawlspaces, foundation issues, and basement flooding. A downspout apron doesn’t push water far enough away from the area; ideally, you should install underground drainage piping leading away from the home. While you can use aboveground piping, it can make mowing and trimming difficult. 

Evaluate the area around the downspouts. Is there vegetation that could cause debris to block the flow of water? If so, be sure to use a catch basin and adapter to ensure the piping does not get clogged and debris is filtered. These can be placed directly underneath or attached between the downspout and underground piping. Products like the NDS Downspout Defender grate work wonders to maintain water flow in heavily treed areas where flat grates can become clogged and cause splash back. If you use a downspout adapter, install one with an overflow or cleanout  to avoid backups if the adapter connects directly to the piping. 

Pop-up emitters can be used at the end of your piping, like areas near curbs or sidewalks, to ensure the discharge flows into the street effectively. These emitters’ low profile don’t hamper lawn maintenance because they pop up from hydrostatic pressure, closing automatically when the pressure slows. This device also prevents small debris or animals from getting into the piping and causing clogs. 
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French drains are another potential solution. Consisting of an underground perforated pipe surrounded by gravel to direct runoff, they can be connected to emitters or dry wells depending on the location. Products like the NDS EZ-Flow French drain have adapted the time-tested method to save labor and money without compromising performance. 

There are some local ordinances that require owners to retain stormwater to avoid pollution in nearby water sources. In these cases, you might not be able to use an emitter leading to the street. Dry wells have been a historical solution, but a Flo-Well uses the same process more efficiently. A traditional drywell is filled with gravel and can hold 25 gallons of water, while the Flo-Well can hold 50 gallons in the same amount of space. These versatile systems allow the water to rejoin the groundwater, which is highly beneficial to tree roots and general soil health. 


Best Practices
Know your climate. The typical amount of rainfall is one of the biggest indicators of the kind of drainage needed. 

Know your soil. Soil cleanses water as it flows through, making infiltration techniques important. In order to clean the water passing through, the soil needs to effectively absorb it. Once it absorbs, you have less work to do in managing runoff. Soils with high clay content or compaction levels need more management techniques. 

Make a plan. Maintenance is key in stormwater management. Discuss routine maintenance visits with your client to ensure the system remains effective and efficient. 


Benefits to Stormwater Management
In addition to the business benefits previously mentioned, a solid drainage system can conserve the amount of irrigation needed by rerouting water to dryer areas and higher soil infiltration. This can also positively affect groundwater recharge, enhance wildlife habitats, and improve landscape aesthetics. Prepare your clients for the rainy spring season by ensuring their current drainage system is properly maintained, and if not, building out a system for them.  Shop SiteOne.com for all the drainage products mentioned above or stop into your local branch to sign up for an educational course today.