All the Different Types of Drainage Solutions for Your Yard Explained

All the Different Types of Drainage Solutions for Your Yard Explained

Curious about the different types of drainage solutions you can install in your yard? You’ve come to the right place - that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this in-depth article!

Without proper drainage in your yard, your property is at risk of water damage, erosion, foul odors, plant death, and more. Landscapes that lack a solid drainage solution can become a breeding ground for pests, too - making it difficult to enjoy your yard as you’re being bombarded by mosquitos.

The good news? Overhauling your drainage system is easy with the help of Michaelangelo’s. We’re the premier choice for Alpharetta landscaping - and we don’t just offer lawn care or landscape design services. We offer a full range of drainage solutions. Together, we can come up with the best solution for your property’s unique needs.

To help you prepare for this project, we’re going to explain all the different types of yard drainage solutions you have at your disposal. While each of these systems has its time and place, only one is ideal for your property. Let’s start by explaining the overall purpose of a drainage system. 

The Purpose of a Drainage System in Landscaping

Here in Alpharetta, we get an average of 50” of rainfall a year - that’s a lot of water. And while that moisture obviously doesn’t all fall at once, there are often severe storms that dump lots of rain at once. And if your yard isn’t equipped to handle this, it could lead to serious issues. That’s where drainage solutions come in.

The purpose of a drainage system in landscaping is to manage the flow of water in and around your property. A well-designed drainage system helps to prevent water from pooling or accumulating in certain areas, which can cause damage to your landscaping, create breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests, and even compromise the structural integrity of your home or building's foundation.

The drainage system is designed to collect and redirect excess water away from your property and into appropriate channels such as rain barrels, dry wells, or other suitable drainage areas. This helps to prevent waterlogging, erosion, and other water-related damage to your landscape. 

Now - all drainage solutions achieve the same goal more or less. They just differ in how they go about doing it. So without any further ado, let’s get into our breakdown of the different types of drainage solutions available to residential and commercial property owners alike.

What are the Different Types of Drainage Solutions for Commercial and Residential Yards?

There are 8 common types of drainage solutions we’re going to discuss below. Some of these are more common than others, but each of these has its unique advantages and use cases. We’ll start off with perhaps the most common type of drainage system: the french drain.

French Drains

French drains are perhaps the most popular solution for managing excess water in landscaping - and after you discover the benefits of this system you’ll see why. These drains are typically installed below ground and are designed to collect water from the surrounding area and redirect it away from your property. French drains are particularly useful for addressing issues with standing water or excessive moisture.

Installing a French drain typically involves digging a trench and lining it with gravel or some other permeable material. A perforated pipe is then placed in the trench and covered with additional gravel or soil. This allows water to flow through the perforations in the pipe and into the gravel, where it can be directed away from your property.

One of the benefits of using French drains is that they are relatively low maintenance. Once installed, they require little upkeep beyond occasional cleaning and inspection to ensure that they are functioning properly. French drains can also be designed to fit a variety of landscapes, making them a versatile solution for managing excess water.

Dry Creek Beds

Dry creek beds are a natural-looking solution for managing water flow in your landscape. These beds are designed to mimic the appearance of a dry creek or riverbed, using rocks and other natural materials to create a pathway for water to flow through your property. And when a big storm rolls through and fills the creek up with water, it looks absolutely stunning in your yard!

To create a dry creek bed, a trench is dug and lined with a combination of gravel, rocks, and other natural materials. The bed can be left empty or planted with suitable vegetation, which can help to absorb excess water and prevent erosion.

One of the advantages of using dry creek beds is that they are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. They can be designed to fit seamlessly into your landscape, creating a natural-looking feature that also serves an important purpose. When people see it, they’ll assume it’s just a creek that fills up in the wet months - but it’s so much more than that!

Dry Ponds

If you like the idea of dry creek beds but have particularly wet areas in your yard that need to be addressed, a dry pond may be a better choice. This type of drainage solution is quite similar to the dry creek bed in that it’s designed to collect and store excess water. It’ll only fill with water when necessary.

Dry ponds are typically designed with a sloping bottom that allows water to gradually flow into the pond. The sides of the pond are then lined with gravel or other permeable material, which allows water to slowly seep back into the ground.

One of the benefits of using dry ponds is that they can help to prevent erosion and water damage to your landscape. They can also provide a habitat for wildlife, adding to the natural beauty of your property. And when they’re filled with water, they look even more beautiful.


Berms are raised areas of land that are used to redirect water flow in your landscape. These mounds of soil can be strategically placed to create natural barriers that prevent water from pooling in certain areas.

Berms are typically created by piling soil in a particular location and shaping it into the desired shape. They can be designed to blend in with your landscape, creating a natural-looking feature that also serves a practical purpose.

One of the advantages of using berms is that they are a relatively low-cost and low-maintenance solution for managing water flow. They can also be used to create natural-looking borders or other landscape features, while adding a sense of privacy to your yard. This is perhaps the most versatile of the choices, and we have a complete guide on designing them if you’d like to learn more.


Grading is the process of shaping the soil in your landscape to create slopes and contours that direct water flow away from your property. Proper grading is essential for preventing issues such as erosion, water damage, and standing water.

The techniques used for proper grading in landscaping can vary depending on the specific needs of your property. Generally, however, grading involves creating slopes and contours that allow water to flow away from your property and into appropriate drainage channels.

One of the benefits of proper grading is that it can be used in conjunction with other drainage solutions, such as French drains or dry creek beds, to create a comprehensive drainage system for your property. For example, you can slope your yard to direct water into a french drain or dry creek bed/dry pond.


Plantings can also be used to aid in landscape drainage by absorbing excess water and preventing erosion. When choosing plants for this purpose, it's important to select species that are well-suited to your climate and soil conditions. Otherwise, your plants will die and your yard will remain oversaturated in water - a lose-lose outcome. 

This is why having an expert help you choose the right type of drainage solution is key, as they can recommend the right types of plants. With that said, plants with deep root systems, such as trees and shrubs, are best suited for this purpose. These plants can help to absorb excess water and prevent soil erosion, while also providing other benefits such as shade and visual interest.

Other types of plants that can be effective for improving drainage include those that are tolerant of wet or moist soil conditions, such as ferns and certain types of grasses. These plants can help to absorb excess water and prevent soil erosion, while also adding visual interest to your landscape.

Benefits of using plantings for landscape drainage solutions include their natural beauty, ability to absorb excess water and prevent soil erosion, and their potential to attract wildlife. When used in conjunction with other drainage solutions, such as French drains or dry creek beds, plantings can help to create a comprehensive and effective drainage system for your property.

Boulder Dams

Boulder dams are a natural-looking solution to drainage problems that use boulders to redirect water flow. They can be used to slow down water flow, prevent erosion, and direct water toward designated areas - like a french drain or dry pond. The rocks used in boulder dams are typically large, natural-looking stones that blend in with the surrounding landscape. 

Boulder dams are created by strategically placing boulders in a pattern that directs water flow in a desired direction. Maintenance of boulder dams typically involves ensuring that the boulders are secure and have not shifted out of place. If the dam becomes damaged or obstructed, it may need to be repaired or cleared to maintain its effectiveness.

The advantages of using boulder dams for landscaping include their natural appearance, long lifespan, and low maintenance requirements. They can also be used in a variety of landscaping settings, from naturalistic to formal, and can be incorporated into existing landscape designs.


Swales are shallow, broad ditches that are designed to redirect water flow and improve drainage. They are typically planted with vegetation, such as grasses or wildflowers, which helps to slow down water flow, filter out pollutants, and prevent erosion.

Swales are designed by first determining the natural drainage patterns of the land and identifying areas where water tends to pool or flow. The swale is then excavated to a shallow depth, with a gentle slope to redirect water towards designated areas. After the swale is dug, it is typically lined with a layer of gravel or other porous material to allow water to percolate into the soil.

The benefits of using swales for landscape drainage solutions include their ability to slow down water flow, reduce erosion, and filter out pollutants. They can also provide visual interest and attract wildlife to the landscape. Additionally, swales are a low-cost, low-maintenance solution that can be easily incorporated into existing landscape designs.

Not Sure Which Type of Yard Drainage Solution is Best For Your Yard? Need Help Bringing it to Life? We’re Here to Help

There you have it - all the types of yard drainage solutions you can choose from. We know that was a lot to digest, but you should have a more clear understanding of all your options now. The only question is - which is right for your property? And, after you answer that question, you’re presented with another question - how are you going to bring it to life? The answer to both of these questions is Michaelangelo’s.

As the premier choice for landscape design in Alpharetta GA, you can count on us to assist you in this process. We specialize in all drain solutions in Alpharetta listed above. 

Through our experience and expertise, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your property is protected from the common issues associated with poor drainage. No more stressing over damage to your home or landscaping features, no more complaints about foul odors, and no more breeding grounds for frustrating pests. 

Reach out today and we’ll guide you through the next steps so you can just kick back, relax, and enjoy your yard as it was intended! 

Parting Thoughts on the Different Types of Drainage Solutions 

Hopefully, this detailed overview of the different types of drainage solutions provided you clarity not just on all your options - but the overall purpose and importance of a well-designed drain system. And at this point, the only thing left to do is get in touch with us today to go over your needs and come up with a solution that checks off both boxes for you: aesthetics and function.

In the meantime, you can learn more about what landscape design is all about in our blog. We’ve developed a variety of helpful resources for anyone designing a front yard landscape or designing a backyard landscape. That includes our guides on sustainable landscape design ideas, modern swimming pool landscape design ideas, designing landscaping beds, how to design landscape lighting plans, and a whole lot more.

So, what are you waiting for? Stop stressing over poor drainage once and for all - the experts at Michaelangelo’s are here to help!