Exterior Worlds
Drainage Systems
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Water Drainage

Due to the fact that the Houston landscape is so very flat, it is necessary at times to use sump pumps or sump systems to pump water out of areas that are lower than the elevation to which the water is being drained. In order to make this type of water drainage work with the Laws of Nature, we must build the sump pump in the form of a basin. This basin is made of brick or concrete and is dug deep enough into the earth to catch the water and retain it. Such a structure is vulnerable to encroachment of debris, so it must be frequently maintained to ensure proper water drainage. This includes inspection and cleaning of catch basins, cleanout of downspouts, and inspecting and replacing power connections.

Water drainage systems such as this are obviously not attractive. They must be hidden from open view. It is therefore a necessity—never a luxury—that you hire a landscape designer to build your drainage system so that the rest of your front yard and back yard can be developed aesthetically and maintain its health and vibrancy throughout the rainy months of the Houston year.

Drainage Aspects:
Prior to your water drainage system actually being installed, it is necessary to go over the many considerations involved in planning and installing your water drain. This is no simple logistical matter, and nothing you ever want to attempt to piecemeal out on your own. It will involve working with multiple municipal and professional entities, and many of these entities maintain an unspoken policy of minimizing interface with homeowners directly.

Considerations during Planning and Installation:
Water Drainage Plans
The total landscape drainage area of your property for drainage purposes is called a watershed. The term “watershed” refers to the total water drainage area. This includes the many different slopes, the speed at which the water runs off, and the porosity of the soil. It also includes dividing line between each drainage surface area such as roof, deck and lawn areas.


Your landscape architect will see to it that you receive a property watershed analysis by a drainage expert that will identify these different areas and recommend the appropriate fixtures and pipe size for the landscape drainage system.

Many municipalities (Piney Point Village, Hunters Creek Village, Hedwig Village, Bunker Hill Village, West University, South Side Place and Bellaire) require the submittal of a drainage plan with regulations concerning minimum pipe size. Exterior Worlds develops and submits these plans on behalf of our clients and obtains the permit on their behalf.

Engineering plans
In some jurisdictions, permitting authorities also require an engineered landscape water drainage plan with submitted runoff equations. This is yet another example of the absolute necessity of landscape architectural services; as such equations are complex and allow for no margin of error

Tree preservation
When installing a water drainage system, it is recommended to hand-dig trenches around trees to minimize damage to them. When tunneling under tree roots, compressed air can be used to temporarily expose tree roots without tearing them. Pressurized water and vacuums can be deployed to dig deep trenches and expose roots.

City utilities
Landscape architects, designers and landscape professionals make it a top priority to locate city utility lines prior to installing water drainage systems. It is imperative to make certain that these lines are never cut, because it can be very expensive to repair fiber optic lines, gas lines and other utilities.

Types of Landscape Drains:
Once permits and plans are finalized and subcontractors are brought in to handle the physical aspects of water drainage installation, there are a number of drain styles we can use on your property.

Gutter downspout tie-ins
Downspout tie-ins carry water from the gutters to the landscape water drainage system. They are made out of plastic, metal or brass. Sometimes, they have a side cleanout with a see-through grate that can be easily inspected for clogs.

Catch basins, or yard drains
Catch basins can be placed under downspouts when it is undesirable or not possible to tie into the gutter. They tie into a PVC main drain line instead and carry water out through the landscape drainage system. Catch basins are usually a plastic or concrete box that uses a plastic or metal drain grate cover to filter out leaves and other waste debris.
Channel drains Channel drains look like narrow strip drains. They are used between main structures and paving or at the edge of patios and decks.
French drainsA French drain is a small ditch that is filled with undersized rocks or gravel. It takes water away from saturated soil.

Deck drains
Deck drains are installed in patios, decks and walkways so that water drainage either slopes toward drains or drains into the landscape beds. They are made with special drain covers, usually decorative, made of metal, brass or stone. The use of custom, decorative drain gates such helps reduce any negative visual impact. Deck drains are smaller in size than catch basins and are only intended to drain patio surface areas.