What is a Drainage Basin?

Let's explore what drainage basins are, how they work and if they're the right yard drainage solution for your property.

While we’re confident you would not be reading this if you didn’t know what a drainage basin was, our editor tells us that we should explain … A drainage basin (sometimes called a catchment basin) is basically a heavy-duty box that comes in various sizes with a slotted lid. They’re commonly used to catch stormwater runoff to be piped underground to some more desirable location (Note: your neighbor’s lawn should not be considered a more desirable location unless the objective is to get them to hate you).

Drainage basins can be large concrete affairs tied into the public sewer system that, as a youth, you lost baseballs in. For today’s discussion however, we’re talking about the smaller (usually green plastic) variety that countless homeowners have installed to try and solve yard drainage problems by eliminating wet areas in their lawn or garden. Get the picture?


How Drainage Basins Work

Well, drainage basins work in theory, but in practice they don’t really work. That’s a big part of the problem. You see, drainage basins rely on gravity. The only water they will capture is what falls into them. They do not “pull in” nearby water like a Hoover vacuum sucking up a dust bunny.

Drainage Basin Design Disadvantages

Usually, the best use is to place a drain basin in a low area and grade the surrounding soil out perfectly so the water can’t help but flow downward and into the basin. Even if installed perfectly though, nine times out of ten, the carefully graded soil will settle, resulting in much of the surface water not quite making it over the lip of the basin. Then you’re back to having a big wet area only now there’s a drain basin in the middle of it.

Some optimists will try to use them to intercept moving water. They’ll line them up like little soldiers, ready to intercept damaging stormwater before it invades their property. If, however, the water is moving with any speed, it will tend to flow around and over rather than in. In time, the path of the “around and over” water will tend to erode surrounding soil, exacerbating the problem.

A further problem is that all drain basins are designed to be cleaned out on a semi-regular basis but never are. Drain basins have a reservoir in the bottom where the flotsam carried by stormwater has a chance to settle out before getting into the attached drain pipe. This, in theory, helps prevent clogging up the pipes. In practice though … no one ever cleans out their reservoir.

Evaluating Effective Landscape Drainage Solutions

So what’s the answer to your yard drainage woes? As usual, there’s no “one” answer. There are alternatives for solving just about every drainage problem (french drains, various hardscapes, channel drains, etc.). The takeaway here is that if you have a yard drainage problem and the first solution offered involves drain basins … look at all your options before making a final decision.

BG Outdoor Services can help eliminate standing water, soggy lawns and soil erosion with yard drainage solutions designed for your property. Reach out to our team of yard drainage system and soil conservation experts for a free evaluation. Contact us today to get started.

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