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Commercial Drainage Systems

With more than 20 major bayous in the greater Houston area and sitting at just 40 feet above sea level, commercial drainage systems are a requirement for Houston properties. They benefit your greenscapes, driveways, sidewalks, planters, foundations and retaining walls. Commercial drainage systems are also a useful tool on a construction site during the building phase. Like irrigation systems, commercial drainage systems are the workhorses of your landscape design, helping your plant material flourish and keeping your grounds safe and dry.

Typical commercial drainage systems include the following devices:

  • Gutter downspout tie-ins. Downspout tie-ins take water from the gutters to the landscape drainage system. Made of plastic, metal or brass, these tie-ins sometimes have a side cleanout with a see-through grate so they can be easily inspected for clogs.
  • Channel drains. These strip drains are long and narrow. Used between structures and paving or at the edge of sidewalks and parking lots.
  • French drainage. Designed to take water away from saturated soil, French drains are small ditches filled with undersized rocks or gravel.
  • Catch basins, or yard drains. Catch basins are situated beneath downspouts when it is undesirable or not possible to tie into the gutter. They carry water out through the landscape drainage system via a PVC main drain line.


Drainage systems have a positive impact on your overall commercial landscape maintenance as well. Since they drain water from low-lying areas, they prevent standing water that can drown your green plant material and cause slippery surfaces that are a danger to your tenants and customers. A proper landscape drainage system is essential for the care of your lawn areas as it moves water off of your property quickly, thus encouraging healthy grass. Because of the timely removal of standing water, they allow your maintenance crew to perform their regular lawn service duties.

When installing drainage systems, it is important to consider tree preservation. It is best to tunnel under tree roots by using compressed air, which exposes tree roots without tearing them. Pressurized water can also be used to dig deep trenches and expose roots, which minimizes damage. Alternately, trenches can be dug by hand around trees to limit damage to the root systems.

The design and location of the drainage systems and irrigation systems should be seamless with the rest of the landscape design. Further, these systems can be designed to work in concert with each other. Landscape designers or landscape architects can develop a whole-system approach so that the nuts and bolts of both systems are out of sight as much as possible. If this goal is not possible, custom decorative drain gates can be used to cut down on the displeasing visual impact.

Some local regulations require minimum pipe sizes, flow rates, temporary drainage systems, engineered drainage plans, calculations, topographic maps, and as/built plans to address the area’s flooding issues. If drainage contractors embark on a drainage project without a thorough understanding of these demands, property owners may find themselves drowning in a murky quagmire that can cost thousands to rectify.