Preparing your Property Landscape for El Nino

Just because your property is on a relatively flat area doesn't mean that it is not subject to some kind of flood damage. Actually, properties on flat land are often much harder to have good functioning drainage installed on because the property does not provide adequate fall for the water to flow downstream into drains or naturally. We should all be taking a look at our properties and getting prepared prior to a devastating storm.

Check your Trees

With the drought taking a toll on trees it is a good time to do a health check and risk assessment. Trees weigh less now because they have less moisture in them. Often, they are weaker as well. Sudden, high volume, moisture may be too much weight for some branches or trees to bear.

Heavy, unhealthy and unbalanced trees are a lot more likely to fall over from saturated soil and wind during El Niño. Roots can break sprinkler lines when trees fall creating more problems. Falling trees can also potentially break drains and redirect water flow making issues even worse.

Hillside Rodents, ground squirrels, rabbits and animals

Eliminate burrowing animals and bury their burrows. Water can go down the burrows and create an "underground dam" that can burst causing major problems. Check for rodent holes in lawn areas or flat areas above a slope as these areas have the biggest potential for collecting large amounts of water.

Foraging animals can also cause major problems by denuding the plant material that protects slopes.

V-Ditches on Slopes (concrete drainage swales)

The obvious point is to keep the V-ditch clean and the "daylighting" spot open.   It is wise to remove loose dirt that is likely to wash into the ditch. Also look for areas where the soil has eroded or is well below the edge of the V-ditch. If the water cannot roll into the V-ditch and pools or worse, starts to erode below the V-ditch, the whole ditch can be washed away or broken; this potentially creates a domino effect when the water in the V-ditch does not go to the designated location.

Check & clean drains, rain gutters and sumps.

Downspout Catch Basin for Gutter water displacementCheck where drains are "daylighting". Also, check how your neighbors’ water flows because their water flow can impact your property.

Leaf guards can be put on rain gutters to keep leaves from clogging them. Garden View designers believe that rain gutters that can potentially collect a lot of debris in them are better if they are not directly connected to the drain system. Instead, they should drop on the ground near a drain so the debris does not clog the drain line.

If you have sump pumps, check to make sure they are clear of debris and are working correctly. If the sump pump is in a critical location, it may be advisable to have two sump pumps placed at different heights so that if one fails, the other works. Have a good understanding of where your water escapes. If the electricity goes out causing pump failure, you can take preventative measures to prepare for a worst case scenario.

Check water flow and do not bury the "Weep Screed" on buildings

Stucco Wall with Weep Screed on bottom end for preventing floodingMake sure water flows away from walls and into the drainage system. On stucco buildings, make sure you do not bury the "weep screed" near the bottom of the wall; this is the point where water that hits the stucco wall and is absorbed by the stucco is drained. If it is blocked, water can build up and go through the wall.

(This is a common occurrence) Some older buildings do not have a weep screed, but the same principal applies - do not bury above the footing.

Turn Irrigation Timers off and know where to turn the main line off

We do not want to make the situation worse, so turn your irrigation timers off once storms are forecasted. Most Garden View Accounts have rain sensors that turn off the controllers automatically. Make sure sensors are functioning and turned on prior to storm season. We should also know where to turn off the main water supply line (especially for the irrigation system); an emergency is not the time to try and find the location.

Protecting Slopes

Planting slopes with deep rooted plants has historically been the best approach to minimizing slope slippage. But, with the drought a lot of slope plantings have been allowed to perish or weaken. Also because the drought continues, planting by Hydroseed or other methods is difficult as we are not allowed to water enough to get established roots or even germination of seedlings.

Mulching has been shown to be effective in many situations. The theory is that during a heavy down pour the mulch slows and absorbs more of the water flow. The mulch also swells up when wet causing the water to run off the top like plastic sheeting.

Other products available to slow down or redirect water flow are sand bags, straw waddles, jute netting, plastic sheeting, gabions, silt fencing, mulch blankets and hydroseed applied polymers.

Have Emergency Materials on hand

We recommend our clients have an emergency package put in a dry place in case it is needed. Garden View's standard package includes, plastic sheeting, at least 50 sand bags, rope to tie to sand bags to hold the plastic down on the slope, stakes, a sledge hammer for the stakes, a shovel, water diversion tubes and an extra sump pump with extension cords.

Every situation is different, look for cause and effect scenarios, use common sense to evaluate your property and needs. In some cases you may have to make a decision on how much you are willing to invest to reduce your exposure to future  losses. Let's hope we get enough rain to ease our drought without causing devastating damage.