How to Get Rid of Standing Water in Yard

How to Get Rid of Standing Water in Your Yard

Have you noticed some pools of water on your lawn? You probably realize how unsightly they are, but did you know that they can lead to a host of other problems? That’s why today I’m going to reveal how to get rid of standing water in your yard (and keep it from coming back). 

As you’ll learn here, standing water will eventually go stagnant, which is disgusting (not to mention dangerous)! It can also damage your lawn and even your house.

I recently shared my expertise on this subject by contributing to this article on Livingetc, but in today’s article I’m going to go in-depth.

I’ll cover everything you need to know to address your water drainage issues and explain why you need to remove standing water in your yard and tell you exactly how you can do it. 

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

Why You Should Remove Standing Water in Your Yard

There are several reasons that standing water is bad to have on your property. Here they are below. 

It Can Kill Your Lawn 

Standing water goes stagnant, and when it does, it can damage your grass. In fact, it can kill it, stopping new grass from growing.

Why Should I Remove Standing Water in My Yard

As well as the fact that stagnant water can damage your lawn, standing water in itself can make your soil more compacted.

Compacted soil is bad for grass, as it makes it more difficult for the water, sunlight, and nutrients it needs to get down into the soil and to the roots. 

It Can Damage Your House’s Foundation 

Have you noticed standing water near the foundation of your house? This is bad news, potentially very bad (and expensive).

The foundation of your house is concrete, so maybe you think it’s invincible. But it’s definitely not. In fact, concrete is porous. 

This porosity means that standing water can seep into your foundation. Eventually, the moisture will break down the concrete, and this could lead to cracks.

In fact, it could eventually cause the foundation of your home to shift and your home could end up too dangerous to live in. 

You’ll End Up With a Mosquito Problem 

One of the best-known consequences of having standing water is ending up with thousands of mosquitos. 

Standing Water Brings Thousands of Mosquitos

Why? Well, mosquitoes lay their eggs in the standing water on your property. It usually only takes about 5 days for the eggs to transform into adult mosquitos, which means even a brief period of standing water after a storm is enough to spell trouble.

Mosquitos aren’t only a nuisance. They can carry diseases

It Will Smell (and It’s Dangerous) 

Eventually, your standing water will go stagnant. When this happens, it will start to smell. That is because of nasty bacteria that grow in the water.

Standing Water on My Lawn

Some of the bacteria that often grows in stagnant water include E. Coli, staphylococcus, and salmonella.

Stagnant water can carry viruses too, including rotavirus, hepatitis E, and Norwalk virus. And don’t forget the potential parasites, such as giardia and E. histolytica. is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

What Causes Standing Water on Your Property? 

Overall, there are three main causes of standing water accumulating in your yard

  • The first cause is your soil not draining well.
  • Having low areas on your property is the second common cause.
  • The third reason lawns have standing water is too much thatch. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these common causes for standing water.

Inadequately Draining Soil 

This is the most obvious cause of standing water. If your soil isn’t draining well, water (for example, from heavy rains) won’t have anywhere to go, and it will end up as standing water. 

What Causes Standing Water on My Property 

Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, a member of our expert panel, explains that “even Florida, with its sandy soil, has problems with drainage,” so don’t expect that sandy soil makes your yard immune from this issue.

There are several potential causes of inadequately draining soil. Two common ones are soil compaction and thatch buildup. Each can impact any lawn turfgrass and any soil type, though some are more susceptible.

Low Areas 

If some spots of your lawn are lower than the others, those are places where water is likely to accumulate because, well, gravity.

If you have a drainage problem in addition to a lawn that isn’t level or graded properly, you’re even more likely to end up with standing water. 

Too Much Thatch

Thatch is a buildup of dead organic matter on the surface of your soil. Some organic matter is healthy and normal for lawns, but if this layer gets too thick (say, thicker than 1 inch), it may make your lawn more prone to standing water. That is because the water won’t be able to soak into the soil. 

This is why periodic dethatching of lawns – particularly those with grass types that spread laterally via rhizomes – is important.

How to Get Rid of Standing Water in Your Yard 

There is big overlap between getting rid of standing water and preventing it.

In fact, you’ll find that all the suggestions I make here are key to reducing the standing water you have now and preventing it from accumulating again. 

How to Get Rid of Standing Water in the Yard 

To prevent standing water, you have to make sure you don’t have problems on your lawn that can cause standing water. As I’ve already discussed, the three main causes of standing water are inadequate soil drainage, low areas on your lawn, and too much thatch. 

Here are some general steps you can take to prevent standing water accumulating on your property, as well as my best advice to remove the standing water you’ve already got.

Pump Standing Water from Your Lawn 

If you already have some standing water on your lawn, you’ll want to do something that will get rid of the existing water right away.

How to Pump Standing Water from a Lawn 

The best way to do this is to use a powerful utility water pump to remove the water. You may need a submersible sump pump.

Before you start the process, you’ll have to decide on where your standing water will end up once you’ve pumped it. 

Examples of good places to deposit your standing water include a ditch that is near your house, or a storm drain. Of course, you’re responsible for making sure that it doesn’t end up on a neighbor’s property. 

If you want a submersible pump, check out the DEKO brand. Their submersible water pumps are well-known for their quality and reliability.

The right way to use a water pump will depend on the specific pump you buy. Take your time reading the instructions that come with the product, and follow them carefully.

Use a Shaker Siphon 

If you just have a small amount of standing water or there is still a little bit left after you’ve tried to pump it away, you can use a shaker siphon. 

How to Eliminate and Prevent Standing Water

Shaker siphons don’t require any electricity, so don’t worry about that. Once you have your shaker siphon, find the small end of the shaker siphon hose and put it in your garden hose adaptor. 

Then, decide on where you want the water to go and put your hose’s loose end in that place. Take your shaker siphon’s metal end, and put it in the standing water you want to get rid of. 

Put the siphon under the surface of the water and shake it, moving it up and down. When you start doing this, the water should start moving through the siphon’s clear hose.

Once it goes through there, it should flow into your hose. It will then move through your hose to the area where you want the water to go.

Once you’ve pumped away the water, you need to take steps to prevent any other water from accumulating on your lawn. Here’s how below. 

Need to buy a shaker siphon pump? I’ve used the Pennzoil Hand Operated Plastic 72 inch Siphon Pump before and recommend it.

How to Eliminate and Prevent Standing Water

I’ve put together this list below of the best ways to get rid of standing water and to prevent it from coming back again. 

Let’s get started! 

Put in a French Drain 

A French drain sounds fancy, but it’s actually quite simple (although labor-intensive). To have a French drain, you have to start with a trench. You put perforated pipe in it, as well as gravel.

French Drain in My Backyard

Your French drain will help water to drain more easily from problem areas around your house and property.

The one drawback of a French drain, however, is that you have to choose a specific place for the drained water to end up. 

A popular choice would be a retention pond or the curbside of the road nearby. Remember, don’t accidentally drain your water to your neighbor’s lawn! This is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Aerate Your Soil 

Compaction in your soil will make it difficult or even impossible for water to fully absorb and drain. That is why you should regularly aerate your lawn’s soil

Aeration is the process of breaking up soil compaction, allowing more room for water, oxygen, and sunlight to absorb and get down to your grass roots. 

Dethatch Your Lawn

You’ll remember I mentioned earlier that too thick a layer of thatch on your lawn (on the surface of the soil) will stop water from fully absorbing. If water can’t absorb, it will end up as standing water. 

That is why you should regularly check your lawn for thatch, and dethatch your grass whenever it is necessary.

I recommend most homeowners dethatch whenever your layer of thatch is more than 1 inch thick, and there are some quality dethatchers available for purchase if it’s a problem you address with regularity.

The Dethatcher I Use & Recommend

For lawns up to a half acre there’s one clear choice when it comes to dethatching tools. I recommend The Greenworks 27022 10AMP Electric Dethatcher.

It works really well and will pay for itself after a few uses when compared to renting a power rake.

Add Organic Matter 

This may sound counterintuitive, but raking in some helpful organic matter, such as leaf mold or garden compost can help improve soil structure and drainage in your yard.

Do you have a clay-type soil? If so, you’ll probably find it’s especially prone to compaction. 

You should aerate it more often, and you should also add organic matter every year or two. This will help the soil drain more efficiently while still retaining the moisture that it needs. 

Fix Low Spots 

Don’t panic if you have some low spots on your lawn. Chances are that you can fix the problem by just filling in the spots yourself, without having to call in lawn care experts. 

How to Fix Low Spots in My Yard

When you fill in low spots, you’re leveling your lawn. The best times of year to do this is the spring or summer. That’s because these parts of the year are when your grass is growing the most, and that is what you need for this. 

To fill in your low spots, you should make a mix of half dry topsoil, half sand. I also recommend adding some compost to this, to provide extra nutrition. 

Use this mix to fill in the spots. Simply spread it into and over the low areas of your property, then rake it smooth.

You should only put in a small amount at a time to avoid smothering your healthy grass. That means you’ll have to get this done over a few, or even several, sessions. It all depends on how low the areas are. 

Just put down half an inch of the mix to each area each time. Once you’ve put it down, water it in. 

Wait about a month, and then you can do your next filling session. Put down an additional half an inch. Keep doing this once a month until you have filled in the spots. 

Get Your Lawn Re-Graded

Unfortunately, if you have a standing water problem, it’s possible that your lawn will need to be re-graded.

Get a Lawn Re-Graded

That’s especially likely to be true if water is accumulating around your home’s foundation, which puts your property at risk. 

When you get your lawn re-graded, your lawn is slightly sloped so that the water will drain away from your house. 

If your lawn needs re-grading, for most people it’s time to call in the pros. If you’re not sure if it’s necessary, you should call in some lawn care experts to do an evaluation. 

Are you determined to try re-grading your lawn yourself? Check out my guide to grading your yard DIY

Create a Rain Garden

Creating a rain garden is another step you can take to make standing water less likely to accumulate on your property. 

Rain gardens come in handy for helping deal with rainstorm water. If you get a lot of rain in your region, I highly recommend putting in one of these gardens. 

A rain garden is quite tricky to set up, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll need to put it beneath or near your house’s downspout, and there are specific components that are required. This video from Ask This Old House is a great watch and shows the entire process if you’re interested:

Your rain garden soil levels should dip in the middle, so that water can collect in the low area.

Plant grasses and shrubs that are specifically known for being both drought tolerant and tolerant to being inundated with water. You’ll plant these on the downward sloped areas of the rain garden. 

You will also need shredded hardwood mulch, which you’ll put on the top level of the soil. The soil itself should be compost amended. Some homeowners will put a washed sand basin underneath the soil. 

Put small granite boulders on the edges of your garden, near the plants on the downward slopes. 

Don’t Overwater

This one almost goes without saying, but I want to emphasize it.

It’s easier than you think to end up overwatering your lawn. And if you overwater and you have any problems with water absorption or drainage in your lawn, you will probably end up with standing water. 

Overwatering a Lawn

You should find out the right amounts of water and how frequently to give water to your specific species of grass. And remember, this can vary by your region, as well as the season. 

Final Thoughts on Removing Standing Water for Good

No need to worry if you see standing water on your property, as there are plenty of things you can do to get rid of it. And once you’ve removed it from your property, you know what steps to take to prevent the issue in the future.    

My best advice is not to put off addressing the problem when you see identify the issue.

It’s easy to say “oh, well it’s only an issue when we get a big rainstorm,” and put off the work.

It’s much better to address the issue head-on before it becomes a serious issue.

Now that you’ve read this how to get rid of standing water in your yard (and keep it from coming back) guide, you have all the information you need to deal with the problem of pooling and stagnant water.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.



Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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