Drainage systems are essential considerations for anyone serious about caring for their outdoor space. In conventional lawns, a waterlogged garden will lead to a messy, boggy external environment that is both ugly and unusable. In the case of artificial grass flooding, you are left with an investment that is unusable during rainy periods and can end up damaged over time, greatly reducing the life expectancy of your synthetic lawn.
Considering this, it’s essential to fully educate yourself on the artificial grass drainage systems available to you. Whether you have a brand-new lawn or are simply considering an artificial grass installation, we are here to help you stay as in the know as possible.
At Artificial Lawn Company, we specialise in supplying and installing artificial grass throughout the south-east and in all types of weather. Boasting over 15 years in the industry, we have asked our expert team to leverage their knowledge and create this detailed guide on drainage for your synthetic turf, its risks and its importance. Bookmark this as a resource if you think you might want to refer to it later.
Does Water Drain Through Artificial Grass?
Firstly, it’s important to look at whether you need to worry about artificial grass drainage at the installation stage. To answer this question quickly – yes – most artificial grass will be sewn onto a permeable backing of some kind or have drainage holes so that water can pass through it easily. So much so that in almost all cases, artificial grass is actually more effective at draining than conventional grass.
However, it must be said that drainage isn’t just about the grass product itself. Artificial grass drainage systems require both a permeable synthetic turf product and an effective subbase underneath the surface such as our granite dust. This allows the water to quickly dissipate and prevents any puddling.
What Causes Artificial Grass Drainage Problems?
Problems are usually a result of an error during installation combined with natural geological issues in the garden.
Geologically, garden drainage problems are usually the result of:
- A garden built on clay-based soil, which retains water more easily than other soil
- A garden lower than the surrounding land, leading rainwater to naturally settle on top of it
- A garden with an uneven surface, leading to natural puddling as water is directed to a specific area
- A high water table underneath the garden
Regarding installation, artificial grass drainage problems are usually the result of:
- Incorrect infill being used, resulting in the holes within the artificial grass backing to become clogged
- A lack-of or incorrect subbase being installed
- Installation over a non-porous surface like concrete without the proper drainage considerations
What Can Poor Drainage Lead To?
If left unattended, poor artificial grass drainage can become both expensive and unattractive for your outdoor environment, leading to:
- Deformation of the artificial grass fibres, resulting in a less natural look
- Instability of the artificial grass itself
- Shortened lifespan for your artificial lawn
- Increased likelihood of weed and mould growth
- Puddles after rainfall leaving the artificial lawn unusable
- Plants in surrounding flowerbeds drowning and dying
Whilst some of these issues are simply inconvenient, most will likely result in expensive or time-consuming repair work and, in many cases, force you to replace your artificial lawn altogether. To this end, the moment you notice that your garden is struggling with drainage you should look to address the issue.
How to Improve Lawn Drainage
Lawn drainage, whether for artificial grass or natural grass, can usually be improved by a few systems and techniques:
Pricking or Spiking
For natural gardens that may be suffering from densely packed soil, pricking or spiking may be enough to deal with the issue at hand. Spiking simply involves creating medium-sized holes in the topsoil of your lawn, allowing any rainwater to begin draining lower down in the soil and, therefore, more quickly. These holes can even be filled with a subbase like granite dust to last even longer.
If you have a deep layer of clay-based soil in your garden, then pricking or spiking may not be the best solution. Additionally, if you currently have an artificial lawn then pricking or spiking can be more difficult to do as you have to roll back your lawn; in which case, you should look to one of the following solutions.
Simple and French Ditches
Ditches are a common drainage solution and simply involve creating a sloped trench or channel for rainwater to be diverted down. There are two common types of ditch used in garden drainage – simple ditches and French ditches.
Simple ditches are very straightforward. Simply use digging tools to create a gently slanted trench towards the bottom of your garden’s slopes and water will naturally channel into it before being carried away. This is quick and easy unless your artificial grass reaches the very edge of your garden area, in which case, you will need to remove some of the synthetic turf before creating your ditch.
French ditches are more suitable if you would prefer a drainage system that is less visible. Just like the simple ditch, the first step is to dig out a trench at the bottom of the garden’s natural slopes. Afterwards, the trench is then filled with gravel and covered in permeable landscaping membrane. This is so that water can pass through into the ditch without allowing soil to enter the gravel-filled area. Afterwards, this membrane can be covered over to create a seamless finish. Using a French ditch, water that would usually pool at the bottom of the garden slope instead drains into the gravel-filled trench underneath the surface and is channelled away.
These two drainage solutions may require you to remove and reinstall part of your artificial lawn or natural turf depending on your garden’s specifications and shape.
Piped Land Drains
Piped land drains are best kept for very serious drainage issues and shouldn’t be attempted as a DIY project. Without going into lots of detail, piped land drains are like gutter pipes for our garden. After digging a deep trench and partly filling it with gravel, a perforated pipe is then placed within the trench before it is covered over with gravel and finished with topsoil, an artificial grass installation, or whatever belongs at the bottom of your garden.
Water naturally reaches the trench, travels through the gravel, enters the pipe via the perforations in its surface and is then channelled away within the pipe. Usually, the pipe leads to a dedicated drain outside of the garden.
For many residential gardens with drainage problems, a single trench and pip will be enough. For broader spaces or gardens with more challenging landscapes, a herringbone layout can often be used, where multiple trenches are installed across the garden; each one feeding into a larger central trench which channels the water away.
Again, it’s best to consult an expert on whether this is necessary for your garden.
Artificial Grass Reinstallation
Aside from these common drainage improvements, it’s important to note that if you do have a natural grass lawn now, an artificial lawn will most likely be enough to fix your issues.
If the cause of your drainage problems is soil type or landscape related, effective artificial grass installation will fix this. Through surface flattening and the replacement of clay-based soil with a more appropriate Type 1 and granite dust subbase, most geological reasons for poor garden drainage can be addressed by a synthetic alternative.
We also offer two different lawn underlays which vastly improve drainage and are particularly useful in areas which feature hard surfaces such as concrete or decking. Our Lawnflex and Grassflex tiles are produced from fused polyethylene foam pieces. Using an open cell material like this allows water to drain more freely from the tile surface providing a fantastic runoff and quick drying time. This installed under any artificial lawn, particular ones which are concrete does vastly improve the drainage and lifespan of the artificial lawn.
As poor artificial grass installation can potentially worsen your drainage problems, this is another project where an expert’s opinion will be invaluable.
Artificial Grass Installation Services
Having drainage problems in your garden can be the result of many different factors but an artificial lawn installation will likely help address these issues.
At Artificial Lawn Company, we offer bespoke, honest advice tailored to your project and your garden’s specification. Consult our expert team today for more information and we will help you take your garden from waterlogged to wonderful.