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Posts in the category "Seattle Drainage"

Seattle’s green approach to stormwater

March 13, 2013 @ 3:11 pm
Green roof at the Seattle Justice Center, 600 Fifth Ave., Seattle. Photo by Ecoyards

Green roof at the Seattle Justice Center, 600 Fifth Ave., Seattle. Photo by Ecoyards

The city of Seattle has been leading the charge in using natural drainage systems to control polluted runoff (all that yucky stuff that runs off roofs, driveways and parking lots when it rains, washing with it chemicals, oils and other pollutants into the Puget Sound). The city has encouraged the use of rain gardens (for better or for worse), promoted cisterns and rain barrels to capture rainwater and installed many green roofs on public buildings.

Recently, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn stepped it up a notch by announcing a new goal to manage about 700 million gallons of polluted runoff a year by using so-called green stormwater infrastructure projects, such as green roofs, bioretention swales and so on. “Whenever possible, we should be looking for ways to better manage our stormwater with natural processes and leveraging our drainage investments,” McGinn said.

A news release from the Mayor’s office notes that they’ll try to reach the goal by using a combination of city-led projects on public land, voluntary efforts on private property, and code requirements for certain private projects. The city’s Pam Emerson told the Puget Sound Business Journal that new single-family residential project that goes through a stormwater code review must implement green stormwater measures “to the maximum extent feasible.”

Seattle Public Utilities.

Seattle Public Utilities.

There’s a lot that residents can do in their landscapes to help curb polluted runoff. You don’t necessarily have to install a rain garden to do your part. The city publishes a handy resources handbook for residents that list simple steps you can take to manage a natural drainage system. This includes: weeding, mulching plant beds with organic material, going easy on fertilizers and avoiding pesticides.


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Improving poor drainage

November 29, 2012 @ 8:00 am

Clean out those storm drains! Photo by Ecoyards.

We had a nice break from the rain that hammered the Northwest the week of Thanksgiving, but more rain is in store this week. The National Weather Service says 100 percent chance of rain on Thursday and much of Friday. Yikes! That often means more clogged storm drains, soggy lawns, leaky basements, and plenty of areas in yards with puddles and small pools.

Time do a visual inspection to make sure your property is storm-proof!

1. Did you clear your storm drains of leaves and other debris? It’s shocking how much flooding and other traffic problems are caused by leaves and other yard debris. The city of Seattle has an Adopt-A-Drain volunteer program for those who want to help clear out drains in the city that are most prone to clogging. With 30,000 drains to monitor, the city could use all the help it can get. If you’re not looking for a volunteer commitment, take it upon yourself  to clear out one or two drains closest to you. If the drain is still clogged after you remove all the debris, report the problem by calling the city drainage hotline at 206-386-1800.

2. Are your downspouts directed away from your crawl space or basement? Are your gutters cleaned out, clog-free and working properly? Make sure to direct the water flow away from your house foundation, but for goodness sake’s be a good neighbor and don’t aim that extra water at a neighboring property. And the city warns not to discharge the water over the edge of a steep hill. Makes sense, right?

3. Have you had flooding at your home in the past and need sandbags help redirect water from your property? If so, the city provides up to 25 free bags for every household or business from mid-October until supplies run out. You need to pick them up yourself, and they’re available at four locations in the city. Bring a friend or two to help. Sand is heavy.

3. Are there areas of the lawn or landscape that are too soggy? How big an area is it? If it’s a small area, you might be able to incorporate soil amendments such as compost that will drain water better. If the excessively wet area is much larger, you might have to consider installing a drainage system, such as a French drain or drainage pipes. If the conditions are right for it, you might want to consider installing a rain garden to help improve drainage.

4. Plan ahead. OK, we know rain and more rain is coming this winter. We’ve been getting a flood of calls lately from homeowners desperate for help installing French drains or have other water/leaky problems. Unfortunately, we have been inundated and won’t be able to get to everyone. It’s a busy time of year because so many Seattleites have drainage problems that often only surface during really rainy times. If you have an emergency flooding situation, certainly deal with it as soon as you can. But if you don’t, remind yourself next spring to think about about how you can improve your overall drainage. Can you improve soil? Use plants that can help erosion or are better suited for steep hills? Can you use another rain barrel or a bigger cistern to capture some of that rain? Are there areas of the yard where amending the soil _ therefore allowing it to absorb more water _ help prevent rain from just rushing off the surface? Give us a call in the spring if you want to put together a plan on how to tackle your flooding problems.

There are many reasons to improve the drainage on your property. For one, every bit of water that you prevent from getting into the city’s storm drains helps prevent the backup of sewage into Elliott Bay, the Duwamish River, or whichever water body is closest to you. Secondly, it may save you time and

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Ecoyards Achieves Landscape Industry Certified Status

September 28, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

At Ecoyards, we pride ourselves on our professionalism, knowledge, and high standards in the landscape industry. This year, owner Andy Nicholls took the extra step to become a Landscape Industry Certified Manager through the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). On Sept. 21, PLANET announced that Andy has successfully earned his certification. He is now a nationally-certified landscape manager in Seattle. PLANET is an international association serving lawn care professionals, maintenance contractors, installation/design/build professionals, and interiorscapers.

To get his certification, Andy underwent an exhaustive written examination that tested his knowledge, skills and theory in all aspects of working in the landscape industry. He had to demonstrate mastery of seven topics covering leadership and corporate citizenship; production operations/horticulture; sales and marketing; strategic planning; human resources; risk, law, and contracts; and corporate financial management. The program requires that he maintains certification through mandatory continuing education.

Landscape Industry Certified, Seattle, Ecoyards

For our customers, it means you can expect the same high quality and professionalism that you’ve come to expect from Ecoyards. Andy’s certification, however, means he’s taken the extra step to validate his skills and knowledge in the industry.

For more information, visit




Filed under Seattle Drainage, Seattle Hardscaping, Seattle Irrigation Services, Seattle Landscape Design, Seattle Landscape Maintenance, Seattle Lawn Care, Seattle Rain Gardens, Seattle Water Features · No Comments »

Stormwater runoff article

March 22, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

Ecoyards was recently quoted in an article on Stormwater runoff.  Check it out here —

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Storms and drains

March 10, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

We had an unusual deluge of rain this week in Seattle, and I noticed how quickly street drains began to overflow. Leaves, debris and other stuff can easily clog up street drains, leading to minor or even major flooding in streets. This week has been a good reminder to pay attention to drainage issues on your property and in your neighborhood.

On your property, make sure you keep your gutters and downspouts clear. Check your gutters regularly, and rake up leaves, debris and other litter that clog up the storm drains; and try to avoid sweeping leaves and other debris into the streets. Make sure you that your downspout directs water away from your house and foundation (and not to your neighbor’s property or down a steep hill). Watch how stormwater drains on hills or slopes near your home and note where runoff water converges. Check for signs of soil movement, such as cracks in the soil or under sidewalks and leaning trees. In Seattle, the city advises you to call 9-1-1 if a landslide damages your property and you have immediate fears for your safety. Otherwise, call Seattle Public Utilities for drainage complaints and maintenance requests related to storm drain or wastewater facilities: 206-386-1800. In Burien, call the Public Works Department at 206-248-5521 or 206-391-1620 on weekends and after hours.

The city of Seattle has this handout on how to prevent erosion and landslides. After an intense storm, the city advises you to inspect your property for evidence of surface water erosion. Check the flow from downspouts, roof drains and drainage ditches on your property. City officials say to check for concentrated or heavy surface flows coming on to your property from other areas. Check the ground at the bottom and top of a steep slope.

There are a lot of things you can do to prevent erosion and landslides. One way, the city notes, is to improve drainage on your property by collecting and directing water from your roof, patios and driveways into catch basins, or to confine water in a drainpipe that flows into a holding pond, a dry well, or a drainage ditch. Rain gardens are another way to improve drainage on your property.

Often times, storms also can damage trees. I’m certain this week’s blustery winds and heavy rains will take a toll on numerous trees in the Puget Sound. If your tree is damaged, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a lost cause. Often a tree that appears to be heavily hit may only need careful pruning. If the damage is minor and you can reach the lower limbs without a problem, you can consider pruning the tree yourself. If the work is out of reach, hire a certified arborist to do the work. Never try to remove branches that are close to, or touch, electricity wires. Report those problems to your electrical utility.

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Disconnecting downspouts

January 29, 2011 @ 10:16 am

One of the easiest ways to curb stormwater runoff pollution is to disconnect downspouts from the local sewer system. Chances are most Seattle and King County residents have rain downspouts that run directly into a combined sewer overflow system. (Ecoyards can help you figure out whether you’re one of those.)

Why is this a problem? In most parts of Seattle, Burien, Normandy Park and other cities in King County, stormwater (rain that falls onto roofs and driveways) mixes with wastewater (the stuff that flushes down toilets, sinks, and dishwashers) and is carried into the sewage treatment plant. When we have periods of heavy rain, that combined sewer system overflows — it happens a lot — sending unfiltered pollutants into our waterways. Downspouts that are connected to this combined sewer system can contribute to the problem because it increases the volume of this overflow.

A downspout connected to a combined sewer system.

Disconnecting downspouts from the sewer system can help reduce these overflows and protect our waterways. Homeowners need to do it properly, otherwise you may get other headaches, like wet basements, leaky foundations or flood redirected at your neighbors or down your street.

There are different, safe options for disconnecting downspouts. One option is to run the downspout through underground piping and into a dry well. This works only if your property has well-draining soil and the right topography. You can also run the downspout through underground piping that daylights to a hillside, but again, this requires the right topography. There are a lot of other things to keep in mind, like making sure you’re not disconnecting downspouts too close to steep slopes or redirecting those downspouts to one spot. Ecoyards can help you decide whether it’s appropriate to disconnect your spouts, and where to send that rainwater.

One of the best options in disconnecting downspouts is to redirect that stormwater into a rain garden. We’ve previously written about the benefits of Seattle rain gardens. Very simply, rain gardens are shallow depressions that hold and filter rainwater; they can be designed to fit your needs and can also be attractive additions to your landscapes. The city of Seattle currently provides a generous rebate for qualifying homeowners who install rain gardens on their property. Ecoyards is a licensed contractor with the city’s RainWise program.

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