Reasons Why Your Yard is Flooding

Flooded area of grass next to a large brick wall

No one likes stepping into puddles or squishing their feet into soggy grass, let alone dealing with expensive water damage. Get to the root of the problem by finding out why your yard is flooding. 

A flooded yard can lead to soil erosion, disease, and increased pests, and cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in damage. Learn why your lawn might be flooding, how to protect it from floods, and what problems might arise in your lawn after a flood. 

Types of floods

Flooding can impact your community on small and large scales, and soil erosion, landslides, and property damage can occur because of floods. 

Mother Nature’s fury is often seen through hurricanes, tsunamis, rising sea levels, and heavy rainstorms all of which can lead to flooding. Damage to dams, levees, and other manmade structures can also cause flooding. 

  • Flash floods: Short floods caused by sudden spouts of heavy rainfall. 
  • Inland floods: Moderate to high levels of rainfall over several days cause flooding, which can be caused by hurricanes.
  • Storm surges: Unusually high levels of water in coastal regions due to a storm, like a hurricane. 
  • Coastal floods Flooding is caused by high tides, strong winds, and heavy rain. 
  • River floods: Flooding caused by snowmelt or high levels of rainfall that raise the water levels above the river banks. 

Why is my yard flooding?  

flooded yard with trees and bushes
Lee Haywood | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Along with the large-scale, more obvious flooding caused by Mother Nature, there are many smaller and often man-made reasons for yard flooding.


While overwatering is far different from a flash flood, it is not a great way to take care of your lawn. If you notice puddles and water accumulation without rainfall, your watering schedule or sprinkler system might be to blame.

Water your lawn early in the morning, between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and only when it needs it. This allows enough time for the water to seep into the ground before the sun’s heat causes it to evaporate. 

Pro tip: Most turfgrass needs one inch of water per week. Aim for three 20-minute watering sessions weekly for optimal grass health. 

Poor drainage

Man clears mud from drainage ditch in driveway

With snow melting at the end of winter or heavy spring rains showering down for days on end, your yard can easily turn into a swamp. Heavy periods of precipitation can be unexpected, but if you live in an area that regularly receives piles of snow or heavy rain, take some steps to drain water from your lawn.

Make sure rainwater gets where it needs to go by installing a drainage system in your yard. Multiple drainage solutions are often used together to prevent backflow. Yard drainage conserves water, reduces runoff, prevents erosion, and controls water flow. 

Popular drainage methods include: 

  • French drains: These shallow trenches connect to an underground pipe. They redirect water, reducing standing water, erosion, and runoff.
  • Dry wells: They are open-bottom barrels that help move water from the surface to underground. Water is transported from a French drain, gutter system, or other method into the well, where it stores the water and filters it underground. 
  • Channel drains: Similar to French drains, these small trenches are installed along hardscaping and walkways to prevent water collection. 

Poor grading

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t want your yard to be flat. It’s pretty unlikely that your yard has no slope at all. Most lawns need a mild downward slope away from your house to prevent water from running toward the foundation. 

Proper grading prevents puddles after a storm, while improper grading can lead to flooding and damage the foundational structure of your house.

Level your yard if it’s uneven and you notice puddling water in depressions and low spots. On the other hand, re-grade your lawn if rainwater is flowing toward your home. You’ll want to reach out to a pro if you’re planning to completely regrade your lawn. 

Compacted soil

illustration showing good soil vs compacted soil
Infographic by Juan Rodriguez

Compacted soil limits water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching your grassroots. Ideally, the soil should be crumbly and loose. Your soil can become compacted because of heavy foot traffic, parked cars, large equipment, and heavy rains. 

Prevent soil compaction by redirecting foot traffic with pavers or gravel walkways and eliminate compaction with aeration. Experts recommend core aeration, which is a process of removing small plugs of soil from your lawn. These holes give the ground room to breathe and help water pass through during a storm. 

Signs of soil compaction include:

  • Grass that appears yellowed, brown, or off-color
  • Thinning areas
  • Increased pests and weeds
  • Exposed tree roots
  • Slow growth
  • Standing water and puddles

Low elevation

If you live in a coastal region, low elevation is especially troublesome. Homeowners in these regions are at a higher risk of flooding caused by rising sea levels, high tides, and natural disasters like hurricanes. 

However, coastal regions aren’t the only places at risk for flooding caused by low elevations. Mountain valleys, urban areas, and properties near bodies of water can also experience flooding.

Clogged gutters

Life gets busy and it can be easy to neglect things like your gutters. Keep your gutters clean to funnel water away from your house. Clogged gutters can worsen flooding and cause damage to your home like watermarks, mold, and mildew. Always repair your gutters at the first sign of damage and check your gutters regularly for clogs. 

Ways to prevent flooding in your yard

lawn flooded with water
Justin Smith | Canva Pro | License

Floods are unpredictable, and there’s no way to prevent flood damage entirely. However, there are a few things you can do to prepare and prevent flooding damage.

Reduce shade

Shade can be great in summertime, but not so much after a rainstorm. Shaded yards are slower to dry. Sunlight evaporates excess water and keeps mold, mildew, and fungus from forming on your lawn. 

Reduce shade in your yard by cutting down trees or trimming branches. Another option is to embrace your shaded yard with a shade garden and replace your turf with shade-tolerant varieties like St. Augustinegrass. 

Add some greenery 

Make your landscape more attractive and flood-resistant by adding more plants. Grass, ground covers, and landscape plants maintain soil integrity. Exposed soil is more vulnerable to flooding and erosion. 

  • Fill your yard with a grass type that tolerates poorly-drained soil, like tall fescue or bahiagrass. 
  • Add erosion control plants to your landscape. 
  • Plant natives. They have deep root systems, are low-maintenance, and conserve water. 
  • Opt for trees and shrubs with deep and expansive roots. They are great for keeping the soil intact along hills and slopes. 

Grow a rain garden

Rain Garden
James Steakley | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Add beauty and flood protection to your yard by building a rain garden. Rain gardens maximize low-lying areas with frequent flooding. They are filled with water-loving, deep-rooted plants that happily soak up the excess water and keep the soil from eroding. 

Rain gardens won’t be able to stave off heavy flooding but can help collect runoff from your gutter system or paved areas. Rain garden plants filter runoff, removing pollutants before the water returns to the ecosystem. 

Install a swale

Swales, also called bioswales, are wide, shallow trenches that redirect excess water. They are often lined with rocks or plants. Swales are very similar to rain gardens, but instead of absorbing the rainfall, they move it to another location.

Add a dry creek bed 

remedypic | Canva Pro | License

Beautify and fortify your landscape by installing a dry creek bed. This is a small trench dug into your yard, often surrounded by plants and rocks. The rocks in the dry creek bed keep topsoil from eroding, while the trench helps the water soak into the ground instead of becoming runoff. 

Use a rain barrel 

Rain barrel
Schulzie | Canva Pro | License

Prevent rainwater from flooding your home and grass by collecting it in a rain barrel. Harvesting rainwater is a sustainable way to conserve water and prevent it from accumulating around your home. 

Rain barrels can be placed below your home to collect water from the roof. You also can divert rainwater from a French drain and sump pump into rain barrels. 

Mulch your landscape

Mulch is a great addition to any yard. Add mulch to garden beds to soak up excess rainwater. Mulch prevents runoff and erosion while providing valuable nutrients to plants. Types of mulch include: 

  • Organic mulch: Wood chips, pine needles, grass clippings, cardboard, compost, shredded bark, and leaves 
  • Inorganic mulch: River rocks, gravel, rubber, landscape fabric, and landscape glass 

Build a seawall

If you have a waterfront property, consider installing a seawall. Lapping water or ocean waves can erode the soil, causing you to lose land over time. 

Seawalls prevent erosion and ensure shoreline protection during flooding. They can prevent water from encroaching on your land during high tide or heavy rain. It’s best to work with a local professional when installing a seawall. 

Use a concrete alternative

Many people use concrete for landscaping and hardscaping projects, like driveways and walkways. But concrete isn’t the best material to use, especially if you frequently deal with rainstorms and flooding. Instead, opt for a permeable alternative that allows water to pass through and seep into the ground. They prevent ice from accumulating, reducing risky conditions in freezing weather. Options include:

  • Porous concrete
  • Porous asphalt
  • Pavers
  • Plastic grids (also help reduce soil compaction) 
  • River rock
  • Gravel
  • Decomposed granite 

Problems caused by a flooded yard

Your kids and pets might love jumping in puddles, but your turf won’t be so happy. Oversaturated conditions lead to many issues, such as:c

  • Foundation damage
  • Lawn disease
  • Compacted soil
  • Increased pest activity, especially mosquitoes
  • Decreased biodiversity
  • Leached nutrients

Heavy precipitation and low drainage drown helpful soil organisms and prevent new vegetation from germinating. Silt and debris left from a flood can lead to an increase in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other elements. 

Flooding can contaminate local water systems, including private wells. If your lawn takes more than 24 hours to drain, you should address grading and drainage problems and consider implementing additional drainage methods. 

How to get rid of standing water

You might notice standing water after a rainstorm or following a watering session. Implement a few simple steps to help get rid of standing water:

FAQ about yard flooding

How can I prevent soil erosion?

Soil erosion is terrible for our waterways, vegetation, public health, and the economy. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent erosion by:

  • Planting trees, shrubs, cover crops, or grass
  • Switching to drip irrigation
  • Terracing your garden
  • Installing drainage
  • Aerating your lawn

How can I protect my house from flooding?

Not everyone can (or should) put their house on stilts. However, you should keep your home’s foundation in top shape and take measures to keep your landscape from flooding.

  • Ensure your foundation is sealed, and check that there are no cracks. Water the soil around your foundation to prevent it from cracking or shrinking in the summer.
  • Install flood vents and a sump pump. Make sure that all your pipes have working valves.
  • If you’re anticipating a storm, place sandbags around your home to act as a barrier. Be sure to stack them in pyramids. 

How can I help my lawn recover from a flood?

After a flood, your yard can look like a disaster. But don’t lose hope; your lawn might be able to make a quick comeback.

  • Analyze the damage
  • Pick up debris 
  • Check your drainage systems
  • Remove sediment
  • Aerate your lawn
  • Reseed or resod if needed

Do I need to worry about flooding if I don’t live near the water? 

Just because you don’t live near a coastline doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about flooding. Know your Base Flood Elevation (BFE), and make sure the lowest floor of your house is above it. Be sure to also check the FEMA Flood Map, and know whether you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area

Homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage, so be sure to buy flood insurance if necessary. 

Stay alert and take action

Mother Nature doesn’t seem happy. Flooding is happening more frequently due to climate change, which is bad for a large number of Americans who live in oceanside homes. Don’t wait until the storm hits. Let Lawn Love connect you with a local landscaping pro who can help you get ready for the rainy season. 

Main Photo Credit: tamadhanaval | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.