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How Do Drainage Swales Improve Water Quality?

Thunderstorms, flash flooding, and tropical storms regularly rattle Northern Virginia. All of which threaten homeowners with washout, land erosion, and waterborne pollutants. If you’re a Virginia resident looking to protect your home, consider contacting a local home waterproofing company to install a drainage swale to redirect runoff and remove pollutants. 

People living in and around McLean, VA, have just such a service provider: Drainage & Erosion Solutions. We are a design-build firm that engineers and constructs drainage solutions for homes. With over 40 years of industry experience, we can solve your drainage problems through technical expertise and outstanding customer service. Alongside drainage swales, we can install waterproofing, French drains, patios, retaining walls, and more. Check out our project gallery to see our team in action! 

Below, we describe drainage swales’ design, benefits, and means of improving water quality:

What are Drainage Swales?

Intended to capture and redirect runoff towards a suitable outlet, drainage swales are shallow ditches covered with vegetation or stones. Sometimes called dry creek beds, swales that cannot grow grass or vegetation should receive stones. The heavier that water flows through the swale, the greater the stones’ mass should be. 

Drainage swales help to stabilize soil and avoid washout. They prevent dead spots from forming in yards and protect landscape features. On top of all that, swales can even improve the water quality of runoff (which ends up in other water sources). 

All of this said we must design drainage swales carefully for them to function properly. Likewise, their filtration properties require proper set-up to work. 

Benefits of Drainage Swales

  1. Make use of your land’s natural features
    Generally speaking, we adapt naturally occurring features to create drainage swales. Specifically, our engineers and contractors choose natural declines and depressions for these channels. Following that, you need only determine whether the target area can grow vegetation. If not, stones are readily available at home improvement retailers.

  2. An effective and practical method of improving drainage
    A primary reason that drainage swales are popular installations is their effectiveness. When designed properly, swales turn wet and muddy yards into lush spaces. Moreover, they are a practical form of runoff drainage, since they require no complex maintenance or industrial machinery.

  3. Prevent washout from degrading your landscape and home
    As we mentioned above, stormwater causes erosion and carries pollutants wherever it goes. Also, it can damage your home by collecting around the foundations or penetrating the basement. And since Virginia sees annual flash flooding, such washouts occur routinely.

    However, drainage swales protect your property by preventing stormwater runoff from gathering. Indeed, an effective way to dry out a wet basement is to fix surface water problems.

  4. Become a beautiful landscaping feature
    Your drainage swale serves a practical purpose—why not an aesthetic one as well? With proper landscaping and attention to detail, drainage swales fit a rustic aesthetic. Moreover, they require no artificial parts: ditches and stones are as natural as trees and hills.

  5. Improve water quality
    A final–and perhaps unexpected–benefit is that drainage swales can improve water quality. As mentioned above, they must be designed with this function in mind. Still, this property calls for close examination and explanation.

How Drainage Swales Improve Water Quality

First, it’s crucial to note that drainage swales differ from rain gardens. Although the latter also treats runoff, it does so by holding the water. Drainage swales treat water by moving it along.

In swales, the water that carries pollutants separates sediments, gets filtered and absorbed by the ground, and leaves particles on plants. These methods work best on small pollutant particles, especially in wide and shallow swales. Studies have shown that vegetated swales (without mowing or maintenance) filter out pollutants best

Award-Winning Home Waterproofing Company Working Now in McLean, VA

Although you and other homeowners cannot control weather conditions, you can influence water’s behavior on your property. To do so, reach out to Drainage & Erosion Solutions, a home waterproofing company that installs such features. We provide drainage solutions in and around McLean, VA, based on our decades of experience and technical prowess. As a design-build firm, we are your one-stop shop for drainage installations. Call us today at (703) 534-1949 or fill out our online form for more information!