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Tips to Help Prevent Spring Flooding on Your Property

04/28/20 03:39:pm

Spring Flooding Prevention: Outdoors

Clean Gutters and Properly Direct Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts help direct rain water away from your home to help prevent flooding. Ensure gutters are clean and water flows freely through downspouts. Repair damage, such as disconnected downspouts and gaps or holes in the gutters. Downspouts should drain 6 ft. to 10 ft. away from your home into your lawn or rain garden.

Have questions about Milwaukee’s Downspout Disconnection Program? Visit the City of Milwaukee’s website for more information.

Check the Grading Around Your Home

Grading plays a major role in where the water ends up on your property.  When looking at the grading you should be looking at all areas around your house including the landscaping directly surrounding the house, paved areas, the lawn, and gardens. Your goal is to have all the water that falls on your house roof and across your entire property to run away from the house. 

Grow a Lush Lawn to Absorb Water

A healthy lawn, properly fertilized, can help reduce stormwater runoff. Apply a slow-release fertilizer, such as Milorganite, when daytime temperatures are consistently in the 60s. By creating a healthier lawn, you’re creating a thicker root system that can absorb more water. Milorganite is non-burning, so there’s no way you’re going to get stripes of dead grass across your lawn. Now is also a good time to fill in bare patches with a little topsoil or compost, a sprinkle of Milorganite and a cool-season grass seed variety.

Grading plays a major role in where the water ends up on your property.

Install a Rain Garden

Rain gardens are environmentally friendly and can beautify any landscape. They collect stormwater and allow it to be naturally filtered as it makes its way back into the ground, which helps protect Lake Michigan by reducing runoff that may carry pollutants from sidewalks, driveways and roads. Rain gardens can absorb more water than grass can, reducing pooling in your lawn.

Choose a site for your rain garden 6–10 feet from your house to keep water away from your foundation and basement, and direct downspouts into the rain garden.  We can help you select plants and share a step by step guide to install your rain garden.

Trees Help Manage Water in Your Landscape

Trees add beauty to landscapes, help prevent flooding and may add to a home’s value. When rain lands on a tree it collects on the leaves, branches, and trunk. This water either evaporates back into the atmosphere or is absorbed by the tree. This means less water reaches the ground helping reduce the amount of water entering our storm sewers. During heavy rains, trees still provide value by slowing the speed rain travels through and along the tree to the soil. This spring plant a new tree and give proper care to your existing trees and shrubs.

tree trunk and branches

Install a Rain Barrel

Rain barrels collect rain water by connecting it to one of your home’s downspouts. Use the free water later in your yard and garden. They are, inexpensive, easy to install and help prevent runoff into storm sewers. Be sure your rain barrel overflow has a good path away from your house. Before installing your rain barrel, consider having a painting party with your kids to decorate it.


Spring Flooding Prevention: Indoors

Check Your Basement Windows for Leaks

Soil graded toward your home can cause stormwater to collect, which can leak into your basement through poorly maintained windows. Inspect basement windows from the inside and out. Look for rotted wood, missing caulk and cracks. Fix problems accordingly and do everything you can to get the water to run away from the house.

Check for Foundation Cracks

While you’re inspecting your basement windows, look down and check the floor. Over time, cracks naturally form in foundations and basement floors, increasing the opportunity for water-saturated soil to empty into your basement. Walk the entire basement and look for cracks in the floor and walls. Check the outside of the house for places that water is ponding near your foundation. Repair cracks using an appropriate filler and do everything you can to get water to run away from the house.

Elevate Items Stored in Your Basement

Have you ever scrambled to get everything off of the basement floor while water is trickling in? Protect items stored in your basement now by storing items in plastic bins/totes and place them on shelves, especially if your basement is prone to flooding.

Ways to Help Manage Water in the Greater Milwaukee Area

Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center

Fresh Coast Guardians

Are you a homeowner, organization, or business looking for help on installing green infrastructure? Contact the Fresh Coast Guardians Resource Center to get started today.

MMSD Water Drop Alert

Text: WATERDROP to 414-296-4422 for Española texto GOTADEAGUA a 414-296-4422

Receive Water Drop Alert text messages when heavy rain threatens the area. When a Water Drop Alert has been issued, a reminder is sent to use less water.

What do you do when an alert is issued?

  • Hold off on washing dishes and laundry
  • Take a shorter shower 
  • Empty your rain barrel
Rain Check graphic

Rain Check

Help keep water out of your home, reduce water pollution and save money during heavy rains by conducting a home audit, inside and out. Rain Check can help you identify and correct potential problems that could lead to water damage and more. By managing water where it falls, we can all help reduce the risk of basement backups and water pollution.