Dealing with Runoff Erosion

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One of the most common drainage issues facing landscapers inĀ Orlando and all over America is the problem of erosion caused by runoff from higher elevations. This problems is prevalent for any sloping property, but becomes even more of an issue if the property lies below other, more highly elevated properties. Evaluating the drainage of the property is the first step toward combating runoff erosion. Simply observe the water flow across the property during the rain, taking special care to note where pulls of rainwater collect.

runoff erosion

Drain Pipes

Erosion around the home is especially problematic and destructive, but is easily dealt with. Water flowing from rooftops can easily be piped and channeled to relocate the flow into drainage easements, waterways or even into the street itself. Installing downspouts is a relatively simple task and allows for piping of water to lower impact areas. To insure a proper downward flow and to avoid bulges that may impede water flow, drain pipes may need to be placed below ground.

Paths and Drives

If water is flowing over the tops of drives and concrete pathways it can be more difficult to tame, since you cannot really channel through your drive or walkway. Sometimes heavy vegetation along the perimeters of the drive or path is enough to redirect water and curb erosion. If vegetation is not sufficient for addressing the drainage issue, then a swale may be the answer.


A swale is simple a wide, shallow trench through the property. It acts as a gutter to redirect the flow of water along a more desirable path. The swale should be designed to be capable of handling the peak water volume, to prevent overflow and flooding. Most effective swales are a minimum of 6" deep and 3' wide. You will want the swale to have a consistent downward slope to avoid the chance of pooling.


If the slope of the property is steep, then a swale is not an option. For steep slopes, terracing is the best option. Terracing is most easily accomplished by using crossties and the backfilling the area behind to create a stair step effect across the property. The walls created by the crossties should extend at least 4 inches below the surface and extend no more than two feet above. Crossties can be secured by driving rebar spikes through to top, down into the earth. For a slightly more "classy" look, you may wish to use masonry instead of crossties to construct the terrace walls.

Professional Solutions

When in doubt, ask a pro. Some jobs simply extend beyond the means of even the most ardent do-it-yourselfer. If you aren't sure that you've got your drainage problem properly assessed, or if the task is going to require heavy-duty professional grade equipment, then it is time to call in a professional. Using a professional landscaper is the best way to make sure that your drainage problems are addressed and corrected the right way, the first time. The money you spend on a professional is usually far less than you will spend if you attempt to fix your drainage issue on your own and fail.