The advantages of soakaways for RAIN Smart Homes
Soakaways and rain gardens have many similarities; however, it is important to know the differences when deciding on which rain smart addition to add to your yard.
Adding a soakaway will provide a low maintenance, and low profile feature that will allow rain to percolate down into the groundwater. Here is some information you need to make decisions for your property.
What is a soakaway?
A soakaway, also known as an infiltration gallery, is a way to infiltrate water underground. Whether that water comes from rain barrels or downspouts it allows for some space for it to sit and gradually go into the ground, instead of running off into storm sewers or flooding in unwanted areas. Soakaways are installed by digging down into the ground to provide a hole at least one meter deep.
Once you have a hole, you have a couple options to consider on how to fill it.
1) You can install storm water crates. These can hold more water in less space but are more expensive. They can be found in the pond section of your nursery or can sometimes be purchased through a landscaper such as those on our list.
2) Line the hole with landscape fabric and fill it with clean gravel (avoid gravel that has sand mixed in). Gravel can be purchased in bulk from a landscape supply company that sells to the public. It requires more space to hold the same amount of water as the crates but is the cheaper option.
Rain is directed to the soakaway from a downspout. It is a good option to create a rock lined channel before the inlet which slows the water down and can prevent any debris that runs off the roof from clogging up the soakaway. You can top if off with more rocks if you like that look or there is the option to cover up the soakaway with grass, plants, or if you are using storm crates, a permeable pathway or patio. If you choose to cover your soakaway be sure to add another layer of landscape fabric to prevent soil from entering and causing clogging. Also ensure you have access to be able to inspect and clean out the inlet and outlet. .
Groundwater recharge is a primary benefit of installing a soakaway in your yard.
Watch our video on how to install a soakaway
Why a soakaway over a rain garden, or why not both?
The main difference between soakaways and rain gardens is that rain gardens are filled with a sand and compost mix and soakaways use storm water crates or are filled with gravel or stones.
Unlike rain gardens which require a larger surface area in the yard, soakaways only require one meter squared of space, allowing even small yards to accommodate a soakaway. This size difference allows you to use a soakaway in tight spaces or spots that aren’t suitable for plants.
Soakaways come in many shapes as well! For these reasons, a soakaway can be built in addition to a rain garden, since the rain collected in the soakaway can provide additional water for the garden.
How and where should a soakaway be built?
A soakaway must be carefully designed and maintained to properly work and achieve the desired results. How, you might ask, should it be designed? Using the following considerations:
Soil type: Porous soils surrounding the soakaway work better than clays
Location: Ensure a proper distance from foundations and consider the slope of the land (less than a 5% grade is needed)
Utilities: Call or click before you dig.
Overflow: Always have a place for the soakaway to overflow if it fills up. Use gravity as your guide to direct any overflow to an area downhill away from the foundation of the home.
Space: Although limited space is needed, establish there is enough space for the soakaway
Soakaways allow water to be diverted away from the home, which reduces the likelihood of your yard or basement flooding.
Soakaways can be a cost-effective option for most homeowners to live sustainably and do their part in being rain smart.
To learn more about soakaways, or to compare information about different rain smart solutions, attend demonstration or workshops that Reep Green Solutions offers.