Dealing With Water Runoff: Stormwater Management Strategies

Posted by
Kim Riebel on Jun 26, 2015 5:00:00 AM

Stormwater_drainage_problemConstruction can leave behind a wake of drainage issues, and after a hard rain it’s not unusual for property managers to notice standing water.

This is especially the case when land was recently developed. But sometimes water collecting on a site’s landscape is only discovered long after a building’s completion.

Many factors influence the way water runs off your Illinois property: land grade, impermeable surfaces, and even weather conditions.

The good news is you can control water runoff and prevent drainage problems on your property.

Doing so will preserve your landscape investment, secure the integrity of your building (no one wants water damage) and improve the ecosystem within your landscape.

Many standing water and runoff issues can be solved with drainage solutions that involve redirecting water with drain tiles, re-grading land, installing berms and reconfiguring downspouts. A storm water management plan might be necessary to handle more involved water runoff concerns.

You’re probably wondering, what’s the best solution for your commercial property?

Here are some water drainage solutions we implement on commercial properties in Chicagoland to reduce stormwater runoff.

Stormwater: What Is It, Why Manage It?

Stormwater is rainwater and melted snow that runs off streets, lawns, parking lots and other surfaces on your commercial property. Impermeable surfaces like pavement and roofs can prevent this water runoff from naturally absorbing into the ground. Instead, it runs off into storm drains, sewer systems and drainage swales.

Sometimes infrastructure to collect rainwater is ineffective, resulting in drainage problems on your property: flooding, erosion, soggy soil or lawn, damage to buildings. This can also trigger lawn diseases, as bacteria love to harbor in moist areas of the lawn.

Managing stormwater is important for preserving the environment. Beyond traditional sewer systems and piping, there are ways to address water runoff through what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls low-impact development (LID) infrastructure. This includes strategic site design and mindful landscape planning.

That’s why a professional landscape company focused on sustainability can serve as a valuable partner.

Landscape Planning That Controls Runoff


There are a variety of strategies we use in commercial landscape design and maintenance to help prevent water runoff and drainage issues.

First, addressing stormwater management concerns is important because standing water can damage your landscape and buildings on the property. Plants suffer, and mosquitoes breed near standing water. Also, we know that stormwater management is a priority for regulatory commissions.

Here are some common solutions to stormwater drainage issues we identify on commercial properties in this area of Illinois.

Redirect downspouts: Large buildings contain many downspouts to direct water runoff from the roof and gutters, away from the foundation.

The problem is sometimes all of these downspouts usher water to the same area in a landscape—and that area gets inundated and overflowed with stormwater after hard rains (or any rain, depending on the drainage scenario).

We recommend redirecting downspouts to different areas on the property, where water can continue natural runoff behavior. Basically, disperse stormwater runoff so the ground can absorb it.

Re-grade land: Water runoff will follow the grade of the land, and the trouble begins when surfaces direct water to an area that cannot absorb it or toward infrastructure, like a building’s foundation.

As landscape professionals, we can strategically grade the land to guide water runoff into appropriate areas of the property. Sometimes additional stormwater management infrastructure is required to collect water, such as a bio-swale, rain garden or culvert.

Evaluate surfaces: Impermeable surfaces like pavement promote water runoff, but there are alternatives that can actually help absorb stormwater and prevent drainage concerns. One of those is permeable pavers, a sustainable material that allows water movement through the surface and prevents runoff.

We also use berms, which are borders or raised areas of land, to prevent water from encroaching on areas where runoff would be particularly damaging or unsafe: walkways, parking lots and other places with pedestrians and traffic.

Monitor culverts: If your property has stormwater infrastructure in place such as a culvert, maintaining it is essential. On commercial properties with culverts, we establish a plan to keep plant material and weeds from blocking drainage openings. The goal is to preserve the integrity of the original stormwater design.

Manage Stormwater With Sustainable Landscape Strategies

stormwater_management_culvert_cleanupWater runoff is a common concern on commercial properties throughout Illinois, where drainage problems are a byproduct of ongoing development.

A landscape professional with experience will serve as the eyes and ears on your property, noting potential drainage issues and staging a plan to deal with water runoff problems.

There are sustainable, strategic ways to manage stormwater through mindful landscape design and careful maintenance of at-risk areas.

Let’s talk more about whether your Chicago commercial property needs a stormwater management plan.

Contact us any time at 630.497.1000, or fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.


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Topics: Sustainability

Written by Kim Riebel

Kim Riebel

Kim Riebel, Director of Marketing and Sales for Sebert Landscaping, oversees all new business development activities for the company’s lawn maintenance and snow removal services. Having joined Sebert in 2004, Kim helped create a new five-person business development team for the company.