Drainage may seem like the least of your landscaping worries as we currently face drought restrictions here in California, but winter will arrive before we know it! Is your property ready? Now is the time to start taking care of those drainage problems you’ve put off since last rain season. The following are some key things to look for when evaluating your property’s drainage system. My goal is to bring awareness to the subject of drainage and remind us all about the importance of planning ahead.

We are in the middle of a labor shortage in the landscape industry and with the resurgent of Covid-19, this problem looks to only be getting worse. This winter is shaping up to be one of the hardest times in history to get contractors to come out to bid and perform on your projects. Many local companies have backlogs that extend beyond 3 months and some are booking work into next summer. If you have a large drainage project, or even a small one, the chances of getting a reputable contractor to complete the work by year-end is slim. If last winter you had issues with flooding or drainage and it’s been on your to-do list all summer, get on the phone today and call your local drainage company. It’s important you plan far enough in advance due to these unusual circumstances.

Contrary to the contractor route, many of the drainage problems can be solved by the average weekend warrior and some plain old hard work. If you have a good idea of what needs to be accomplished and you have some extra time on your hands, it may just be putting that time aside to get your project completed before the rains come. It’s always harder to work on your drainage system after a rain, everything is wet and sometimes a poor drainage system can cause flooding or property damage.

What to look for:

Your roof gutters and downspouts. We have been dubbed “Tree City” USA here in Santa Cruz and while we appreciate the wonderful Redwoods and other varieties of trees, they can be a nuisance on your gutters, clogging them up and leading to overflow issues. Be sure to clean out your gutters and your downspouts before the rains begin.

Check your in-ground drainage collection boxes. While not all properties have drainage boxes or pipes most do and you will want to make sure they are cleaned out of debris, animals, or other obstructions that can reduce water flow. Take a moment and think back to last year during one of our few rain events, did the drains work properly? Did you have overflow or flooding issues? Chances are that if it happened last year, it will happen again this year. If you have a sump pump on your property, now is a great time to test it out and make sure it is still working. Sometimes sump pumps can blow a fuse or get unplugged during the summer.

Erosion control is an important step if you live in an area that has steep hillsides or any hillside that has been disturbed over the summer. You want to make sure any bare ground is covered by either landscaping or some type of erosion control matting. There are many options depending on the severity of your situation. If you feel there is a potential for a landslide you will want to work on preventing that from happening before the rains return.

If you own a commercial or residential property that was part of a LID project which included a bioswale, there is likely an annual report that must be completed and submitted to your local agency. Be sure to stay up to date with these inspections and reports to avoid potential fines. If there is a flood situation that causes damage and it is due to your bioswale not being properly maintained you could be on the hook for repair costs. Make sure to keep your Bioswales clean and free of debris that can prevent proper water flow.

This summer has been a house buying and selling frenzy. If you purchased a home in the last six months you may be unaware of existing drainage issues. Take a close look around your property and inspect all drainage systems it may have. If you aren’t sure what to look for, reach out to a professional for a consultation, it may be worth the money to feel safe when the rains start.

The entire state is hoping for a wet year as the drought situation has dominated headlines, so if our rain dances work, we want to make sure you are covered. Don’t hesitate, check your drainage systems this weekend!