The Chicago Landscaper: Learn About Your Stormwater Repair Options |
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The Chicago Landscaper: Learn About Your Stormwater Repair Options

Stormwater Problems? Address Them Now

Stormwater problems make a mess of your property. What’s worse is that they can damage your structures in a hugely substantial way.

Here in Chicago, August typically receives the most rainfall. Read on to find out how to identify and repair your issues before next month’s rainy season.

Stormwater Problems Can Cause Expensive Home Repairs

Ask any property owner who has had a stormwater issue and you’ll likely get a similar story: Fixing the issue just isn’t optional in many cases. Furthermore, the cost of the repairs can be surprisingly high. But armed with the right information, you can make judgments about how to handle stormwater issues in these scenarios:

  1. If you are currently aware that you have a stormwater management issue
  2. If  you suddenly develop a stormwater issue “out of the blue”
  3. If you’re not sure if there is an issue with stormwater.

First, Identify if You Have (or Might Have) a Stormwater Issue

How to identify if you truly have an issue is generally easy enough if you’ve had a good rain or two. Look for:

  1. Pooling water
  2. Areas that stay sloppy wet and don’t drain 24 hours after the rain has stopped (standing water)
  3. Water in your basement
  4. Efflorescence (mineral deposits left by water that has evaporated) and water stains

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Second: If You Have a Stormwater Problem, Learn Which Local Regulations Apply

Local regulations vary but here are a couple of “can’t do’s.”

Generally speaking, you can’t connect your downspouts to the sewer system. The short translation for this is this: If you have an issue, you must manage it on your property.

When you manage the stormwater on your property, you also cannot set up any kind of system that will divert ‘your’ water to your neighbor’s yard (although this shouldn’t be news!). You also cannot add additional hardscaping items unless they fit within the ratio of green space | hardscape for your entire property, and these ratios vary by community.

What does of all this mean? Well, local ordinances dictate how you are allowed to handle any stormwater issue. (You can reference the City of Chicago Stormwater Management Ordinance Manual if you want to learn more about the regulations.) Odds are that you’ll work with a licensed landscaping professional when assessing a stormwater and drainage issue. You’ll want someone experienced in dealing with these issues so that you don’t go astray when handling a potentially expensive fix.

But regardless of whether you choose to tackle the repairs yourself or whether you decide to hire this out to someone licensed in dealing with stormwater, you’ll still want to get some idea about what your options may be.

 Third, Consider Possible Solutions to Managing Stormwater


There are a variety of potential solutions when dealing with standing water and drainage issues. Among them, you can consider:

  1. Redirecting downspouts
  2. Installing drain tile (French drains)
  3. Having neighbors redirect downspouts
  4. Underground storage of water. Underground cisterns offer sustainable solutions because you can use the collected rainwater for irrigation.
  5. Rain barrels: Rain barrels are aboveground cisterns or storage vessels. Because they capture runoff from gutters, they clean up stormwater problems while also providing a source for irrigation during dry spells.
  6. Rain gardens: Rain gardens are built near runoff sources. The idea is to capture the rainwater before it either creates a drainage problem or before it reaches the sewer system. The rain garden itself is a shallow depression planted with deep-rooted native plants that attract insects and birds, which benefits native bees, birds and butterflies. At the same time, the reduction in standing water made possible by the rain garden works to decrease mosquito breeding grounds. Furthermore, rain garden help to filter out pollutants that would otherwise wind up sewers and waterways.  As a result, rain gardens provide a great solution for managing stormwater by those who believe in sustainable solutions.

Creating your outdoor space takes some time, patience, vision and creativity, whether you are landscaping a whole yard or just landscaping small areas. When you’re ready to move ahead, our team is highly experienced in all facets of landscape design. We’ll be happy to talk with you in person or over the phone to discuss how we can help you with your planning and outdoor overhaul. Feel free to call us or contact us online to get started with a discussion about your Chicago landscaping ideas and needs.

About The Author

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
Chicago Landscaper, Master Gardener, Green Roof Specialist & Degreed Horticulturist at Anne Roberts Gardens

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