St. Louis Drainage Solutions

Water can be calming and serene.  Water can be fun and playful.  Its brutality can destroy a ship and its persistence can carve a canyon out of solid rock.  When it comes to your landscape, water is a necessity for your lush turf, strong trees, and beautiful flowers, but it can also be the cause of their destruction.

When most people think about beautiful landscapes, they think about bringing the right amount of water into an area, but taking water out can be just as important.  Too much water can kill plants and trees, make areas non-traversable, and if too close to your building, water can cause costly damage to your foundation, electrical systems, and even to your building’s interior.  If left unremedied, mold can grow, and stagnant water anywhere is a breeding ground for insects and the diseases they carry.  Too much water can lead to soil erosion which can also be an expensive repair for any landscape.

Not all drainage systems are created equal.  There are no cookie cutter solutions to drainage problems and what works best for one property may not be the best answer for another.  Each property is different with their own unique features that lead to storm runoff problems.  Our landscape technicians are experts in how to deal with water problems unique to the St. Louis area and can view and assess your property and come up with a drainage solution that will be a good fit for your commercial property, functionally and aesthetically.  We look at grades and slopes, surrounding properties, and the hardscapes disrupt the normal flow of water.  Hardscapes can be anything from your buildings to your parking lots which come between the rain and the ground.  Roof shingles, pavement, and tarred surfaces are specifically designed to not absorb water and to direct it away to avoid puddling.  Storm runoff carries with it toxins, human and animal debris, and fertilizers and other chemicals as it seeks an alternate route.  It doesn’t filter; it flows into our rivers, streams, and aquifers where we get our drinking water, pollutants and all.

How To Identify Poor Drainage

Usually, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that there’s a problem with your drainage.  The game is quite literally “afoot”.  If you walk outside on a rainy day and suddenly find yourself knee-deep in cold rainwater, you probably have a drainage problem.  However, there are more subtle hints that there’s a problem.

A damp, musty smell.  If the air outside or inside is damp and musty, water is likely not being directed away from your building as it should.

You find mold.  Mold will flourish outside or inside on areas that don’t dry properly and can pose serious health risks for occupants of your buildings.

Your plants are dying.  Just as too little water will kill your trees, plants, and turf, so will too much.

There are more mosquitos.    Mosquitos breed in water and they don’t require a picturesque pond to do so.  They’ll lay their eggs in a paper cup filled with water if they find one.

Your mulch keeps washing away.  Water finds the path of least resistance and it doesn’t care if it brings your mulch along for the ride.

There’s visible damage to your foundation.  If left unmanaged, water can cause cracks in the foundation of your building.  This can be due to puddling around your foundation or downspouts that do not direct the water away from your building because they’re clogged, improperly installed, or maybe you don’t have gutters and should.


What Can Be Done About Poor Drainage?

Depending on your drainage issue, the solution may be as simple as cleaning out the downspouts or as complex as a sophisticated bioretention area.  It’s important to have an experienced professional to assess the issue to determine the right solution for your level of runoff.

French Drains

French drains work well in areas of your turf are frequently “swampy”.  They consist of a perforated drain pipe that is buried between 18-24” underground that carries water away from the problem area.  After a trench is dug, a layer of crushed stone is laid, a layer of landscaping fabric is laid, and then the pipe, hole-side down.  This may seem wrong, but French drains work by allowing water to flow into them from below.  As the trench fills, the water rises into the pipe and flows down the slope.  After the perforated pipe is installed, another layer of crushed stone is added, followed by a layer of soil to mask the whole thing.


Catch Basins

Catch basins come in various sizes depending on how big your stormwater issue is.  The basin is buried with the top of the box that has a grate remaining above ground.  It is connected underground to channel piping which carries the water away.  Water and debris enter through the grate and as the debris falls to the bottom, the water flows out to an outlet trap away from the problem area.   Catch basins are effective at removing water from lawns and gutter spouts.

Point Drains

Point drains are like shower drains.  The drain itself is above ground and leads to pipes below.  Several point drains can lead to a single line of pipe.  These work best in areas where you don’t have to worry about running into the drain with power equipment.


A drywell is simply a layer of gravel or crushed stone buried beneath the surface of the ground.  It’s a natural filter.  The spaces created by the gravel allow the water to collect as it slowly filters through the soil below.


Over time, your property can change.  Land settles and can, in turn, create areas that are uneven or sunken, trapping water or directing it to areas where you don’t want it.  Regrading the land can direct water where you want it to go.  While it may be a large undertaking, regrading the property can improve its look and improve the health of your trees, turf, and flowers.


The EPA mandates that communities, construction companies, industries, and others should use stormwater controls known as Best Management Practices in order to preserve our environment.  By following the guidelines, property damage, polluted water sources, and even loss of life can be prevented.  The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District recommends bioretention as a BMP.  Bioretention is a depressed landscape feature that collects and filters stormwater runoff.  These areas use vegetation and organic soil and consist of a graded filter of sands and gravels for drainage, a perforated pipe for proper drainage, and an overflow structure in case of heavy stormwaters.

We install, maintain, and inspect all bioretention areas to ensure they are installed correctly and follow the BMP guidelines.  We even file all of the necessary paperwork so your bioretention area is always in compliance.

Our environment is our greatest resource and we need to do our part in protecting it by keeping dirt, oil, fertilizers, and trash from making their way into our beautiful St. Louis waterways.  By following the Best Management Practices guidelines, and installing proper drainage on your commercial property, you will not only be doing your part to help the environment, you’ll be saving money on costly repairs due to water damage.

Call Bluegrass today at (314) 770-2828 and see how our professionals can solve your landscape drainage problems.