Solve runoff problems with a dry well

If you have a lawn that is subject to frequent light flooding, a simply constructed and strategically located dry well might be the answer to your runoff problems. Here’s how they work and how to use one in your yard.

Solve runoff problems with a dry well

What is a dry well?

Think of a dry well as a sponge sunk into your yard. When there's too much water for the earth to handle, the dry well soaks it up and redistributes it slowly below the surface. Even better, it's buried below the surface so you can plant over it, making it a virtually invisible solution.

Building a dry well

In its simplest form, a dry well is a hole approximately one metre across and one metre deep. The hole is filled with loose gravel or stone up to about 15 centimetres below the surface and then covered with sod. You can find easy-to-use kits for installing a dry well at many online retailers or brick-and-mortar home and garden stores.

Choosing the right location

The location of a dry well is the most important factor, so you'll need to do some strategic observing the next time it rains to determine an ideal location in your yard. If the water comes pouring from a downspout, place the dry well near that spot, but at least two metres away from the house so as not to undermine your foundation. If water runs off a driveway or paved walkway, put the dry well near the end of the runoff, again away from any construction that might be undermined. Wherever there's standing water, a dry well can help.

Selecting suitable plant cover

Since the earth around a dry well tends to remain saturated, use water-loving plants as cover. For example, look for grasses, shrubs, ferns and flowers that can thrive with wet roots and are thus suitable for planting above or near a dry well. Just keep in mind that a dry well is a water magnet.

Simple, unobtrusive and low maintenance, a dry well is an excellent solution for your flood-prone lawn.

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