What Is A Swale Drain For Yards And Should You Get One?

Swale Drains Are A More Natural And Beautiful Way To Keep Your Maryland, DC, Or Northern Virginia Yard From Flooding
Swale drain for yards looking beautiful and natural with plants around it

Swale drains are broad, shallow ditches that can be lined with grass, vegetation, or rocks. It’s a more natural way to help drain yards to prevent flooding, puddling, and erosion. They can also be a great addition to your landscape by looking like a dry stream bed.

You can see what swales can look like further down!

Our Yard Shouldn’t Be Shrek’s Swamp

“Not funny, Mike. Not. Funny.”

Mike chuckles to himself as he lowers his arms. He knew Cameron wouldn’t find it funny at the moment but he had to make the joke.

Flooding yards like this can use swale drainage

Their yard has had a puddling/flooding problem for a long time now, basically turning it into a swamp (hence the Shrek joke). Cameron wants to start using their outdoor area more and the first step to do that is to solve the puddling problem.

This all came about after she saw their friend’s water drainage solution project using rainwater harvesting. She doesn’t want the same look for their yard though.

Instead of using rainwater harvesting Cameron wants to put in something called a swale drain for yards. Mike has no idea what that is or looks like so he gets out his phone and Googles “what is a swale drain for yards.”

If he doesn’t like what he finds he can always try one of these other water drainage solutions.

What Is A Swale?

Swales are broad, shallow ditches people use to help drain their yards of excess water. This way they can make the most of their outdoor area without having to wear boots or galoshes.

Swales going through yard and next to driveway

“So, it’s basically a super fancy storm drain?” Mike thinks to himself.

You can word it that way if you want, but swales do more than drain water- they can provide a great look for any yard.

Line them with rocks and boulders and add plants on the sides to make it look more like a dry stream bed. Iris and pickerel rush are two particularly good aquatic plants for wet swales. Planting around the edges also helps soften the appearance and can help it blend into the surrounding landscape.

Swale drain for yards in natural area

You can also incorporate swales into water features as an overflow area.

Add in some lights so you can see it at night and you have a beautiful addition even at night!

Mike’s liking this idea of using a swale for draining. He’s even thinking of doing it himself so he looks up the steps for how to make a swale for draining a yard.

How To Make A Swale For Draining Yards

  1. Mark out where the swale will go
  2. Remove grass and organic material
  3. Dig a little if necessary
  4. Lay down landscape fabric
  5. Place boulders, rocks, and gravel
  6. Add any additions like lights and plants
Rocky swale going under small stone bridge

Mike looks over the steps again with a frown. It looks easy just from reading it on the screen but moving a bunch of heavy rocks around doesn’t sound fun.

He puts his phone down and goes to find Cameron.

Is A Swale A Swell Idea?

“Oh, this is wonderful, dear! I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like in our yard and what we can do after our yard isn’t a swamp anymore,” Cameron ends in a terrible imitation of Shrek’s voice.

Mike chuckles at her poor attempt as she hugs him. Looks like they’ll need to hire a contractor to install a swale.