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What to Avoid When Landscaping Drainage Swales

Drainage swales are low-lying or dug-out pieces of land—sometimes covered in small or large rocks—that direct water to or from an area. Homeowners use them to guide water from their houses and property, to divert water into gardens, or to collect rainwater.  Drainage swale installations support the environment because they filter the water that flows through them—the plants or rocks in them remove pollutants. They can transform a landscape plagued by mud and standing water into a beautiful yard or garden. Swales also mitigate the risks of flooding and property damage.

If your home or property suffers from standing water and runoff, turn to Drainage & Erosion Solutions (DES). We are a home waterproofing company that’s served the residents of Annandale, VA, for over 40 years. Our team provides the most efficient and beautiful drainage solutions for any landscape, no matter the challenges involved. Whether doing so involves stormwater management or wet basement solutions, we help our clients complete projects so they can enjoy their properties. If you require professional yard drainage solutions, reach out online or call (703) 534-1949.

Below, we outline issues that prevent drainage swale installations from functioning:


First, anything that could obstruct the water flow in the swale must be removed. For example, if you have a fence built where your swale will run, installers must dig out space beneath it for the water to run. Alternatively, given enough between them, water can flow between fence posts.

Besides fencing, other sizable objects—including garden ornaments, big rocks, and yard decorations—could disrupt the water flow if they penetrate the swale. These items can undermine the efficiency of your swale and leave you struggling again with pooling in your yard.

Improper or Insufficient Sloping

Drainage Swale Installation Annandale VA

Despite the benefits of drainage swales, some property owners find these installations unsightly or undesirable. So, when forced to take some measure of drainage control, these folks install a swale with shallow sides. In doing so, they defeat the purpose of a swale, as a shallow ditch can drain little water. Run-off and floodwater will likely wash over it.

Additionally, years of water flow and shifting landscapes may create an uphill slope in one section of your swale. Since these installations require gravity’s pull to move water, any uphill portion will impede their operation.

Small Size

When done correctly, swales can be beautiful additions to a landscape, adding functionality and aesthetics to your home. While you may prefer to install a small swale, building too small can render them useless to your yard. Swales can handle a large amount of water, but underestimating the necessary width of your swale could cause excess water to spill over into your yard. 

If you don’t like the look of a larger swale, consider hiring a professional to lay a perforated pipe to assist the drainage process. The pipe alone may look jarring, so experts can lay filter fabric, gravel, and stones on top, creating a beautiful drainage swale.

Consider Drainage Swale Installation for Your Home in Annandale, VA

Nobody wants a muddy and puddle-ridden yard, especially during winter when the stagnant water can freeze into ice. To prevent pooling and ice-related slips and falls, the Drainage & Erosion Solutions team can handle all your drainage swale installation needs. With our extensive knowledge and experience, we tackle projects with confidence. Enjoy a dry and well-maintained backyard by reaching out and contacting us online or at (703) 534-1949.