In order to drain floodwater off your driveway, first assess where the water is coming from. Then, redirect any runoff coming from downspouts or other drainage systems. To stop driveway flooding, install trench drains in your driveway, dig drainage ditches beside your driveway, create a swale to divert runoff, or replace your driveway with permeable paving.
5 Solutions for Poor Driveway Drainage
A flooded driveway is not only unsightly and inconvenient, but it can also be a real problem. Water collecting on your driveway can contribute to garage flooding, create a place for insects to breed, and contribute to the deterioration of gravel driveways. If your driveway has poor drainage, implement these solutions to eliminate the problem.
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It’s important to know where the water that floods your driveway comes from. The next time it rains, take a moment to observe. Is the water coming from a slope, from the street level, or is it pouring out of gutter downspouts toward your driveway? Many times, gutter systems contribute to driveway flooding. If this is the case, redirect or extend gutter downspouts and other drainage systems to terminate in another area, such as an underground dry well.
- Observe your driveway during rainy conditions to determine the source of floodwater.
- If gutter downspouts are contributing to a flooded driveway, extend your downspouts and use a drainage pipe to channel the water to another part of your property, or into an underground dry well.
- Do not redirect water onto a neighboring property.
With this solution, as well as the others on this list, it’s important to note that channeling floodwater off your property and onto a neighbor’s land is not an option. There are many discrete ways to safely channel water to gardens, dry wells, or storm drains.
Install a Driveway Drain
When dealing with a sloped driveway that collects water in low areas, the best answer is to install a trench drain that cuts directly across the driveway. This is a great solution for driveways that slope downward from street level or have a low spot. To install a trench drain in your driveway:
- Determine where water flows from. Plan the trench as a straight line across your driveway that intercepts water as it flows toward the low area.
- Use a disc cutter or similar concrete saw to cut a 9-inch wide (23 cm) trench across the driveway.
- Dig the trench 18 inches (45 cm) deep. Save the gravel base you excavate.
- Slope the trench downward 1–3 inches every 10 feet of distance in the direction you want it to drain.
- Install gravel, landscape fabric, and perforated drainpipe according to our guide on digging drainage trenches.
- Terminate the drain in a dry well or another safe drainage endpoint.
- Install this drain cover to complete your driveway trench.
A trench installed in this way captures water that would otherwise run down your driveway to low areas and instead diverts it away. In regions with heavy rain, or for driveways with a low middle, multiple drains may be required.
Dig a French Drain
This solution is similar to an in-driveway drain, but it’s intended for driveways where floodwater is coming from the sides. In this case, if water is flowing onto a driveway from a nearby slope, dig a drainage trench with the right tools alongside the driveway so that it captures water and directs it away.
- Use this method if water is flooding your driveway from slopes on one or more sides of the driveway.
- Dig a drainage trench alongside the driveway so that water flows into the side of the trench.
- Slope the trench at least 1 inch every 10 feet to conduct water downhill to a drainage termination point, such as a dry well.
- A French drain is perfect for this application because it collects high volumes of water and channels them safely downhill.
If your driveway is surrounded by slopes on either side, you may need to dig two drains—one on each side—to capture the water and drain it away. This option is simpler than an in-driveway drain because you won’t have to cut through any concrete.
Dig a Swale
A swale is an uncovered, pipeless drainage ditch that collects water and distributes it naturally. It’s a great alternative to a French drain in areas where your rainfall is not excessive. To construct a swale:
- Position your swale as you would a drainage trench. Plan it so water flows into the side of the swale and is conducted downhill.
- Dig your swale 18 inches deep (45 cm) and 36 inches wide (90 cm).
- Construct your swale with gently sloping sides, to prevent erosion.
- Slope the trench downhill at 3–6 inches of slope every 10 feet.
- Terminate the swale in a dry well.
- Pour a 3-inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the swale.
- Plant the swale with grass or water-friendly flowers, such as irises and lilies.
A well-sloped swale will conduct water downhill, while planting it with water-hungry plants prevents erosion, absorbs standing water, and makes your drainage ditch an attractive lawn feature instead of an eyesore.
Install Permeable Paving
Permeable paving solutions allow water to drain down through your driveway and enter the soil instead of standing on the surface. This is an expensive and labor-intensive solution if you intend to replace concrete with permeable pavers, so it is best suited as a way to improve a flooded gravel driveway. To implement this solution:
- Remove the existing driveway material, whether it is concrete, gravel, or asphalt.
- Level and re-grade your driveway if the building code in your area allows this.
- Install these driveway pavers.
- Pour a gravel base on top of the pavers.
This solution works wonders for existing gravel driveways because the pavers also prevent gravel from sliding down a slope. With the pavers in place, rain and flood water trickles down through the gravel and percolates into the soil naturally.
How Do You Stop a Driveway From Flooding?
If your driveway is subject to regular flooding during rain or storm conditions, you can solve this issue by:
- Redirecting any water from downspouts and gutters away from your driveway.
- Installing an in-driveway drain.
- Digging a drainage trench beside your driveway.
- Creating a swale beside your driveway.
- Replacing your driveway surface with a water-permeable surface.
These options can all be installed safely and do not require heavy machinery or an expensive fix. The installation of any of these solutions will divert water away so you can enjoy a dry, well-drained driveway.