If you live in a wet climate, the creation of a soakaway in your garden could be the ideal solution for any waterlogging concerns you may have about your garden’s turf.
What is a Soakaway?
A soakaway is essentially a hole in the ground of your property’s perimeter –usually the back garden – that is filled with rubble. Soakaways are designed to drain away excess water caused by heavy rainfall if the drainage system of your home struggles to keep up with demand. It’s a simple concept that requires little in the way of labour, but the results can be hugely effective and positive.
Why is a Soakaway Useful?
In addition to preventing waterlogging and sustaining the life of your garden, a soakaway will stop damp from seeping into the property from outside and even save you money on your water bills.
How Does a Soakaway Work?
Think of a soakway as a garden well that acts in reverse; instead of retaining water, this installation will remove excess levels of hydration from the perimeter of your property. Digging a soakaway will allow rainwater to gradually seep into the ground rather than remaining on the surface, where it will slowly begin to redistribute itself into the soil before it can become polluted. This not only helps your garden turf last much longer, but it’s also one of the most environmentally friendly solutions available to heavy rainfall.
Do I Need to Consult Somebody Before Building a Soakaway?
It’s always essential to ensure that you are complying with local building regulations, so check that you are abiding by government laws on Drainage and Waste Disposal. You shouldn’t find this to be a struggle, as soakaways are almost exclusively within the boundaries set out in this legal document.
Where to Install a Soakaway
You’ll need to position your soakaway on soft turf in order for the excess water to drain – if you dig a hole onto a solid surface all you’ll be doing is building a hole that stores water until it overflows.
You’ll need your soakway pit to be at least five metres from the external walls of your property. Aim for a lower area if your garden if it is on any kind of tilt – this means that water will automatically run toward the soakaway, and leave you with less digging to do.
How to Build a Soakaway
Firstly, you’ll need to dig your trench on your turf in which you can install your drainpipe, then the pit for the soakaway itself. You can use a shovel and do this by hand or hire a mini-digger from a DIY shop, but ultimately the hole that hosts your soakaway should be 1m3 at the very least – you may well need to go larger, depending on your requirements.
Lay some gravel across the bottom of this freshly dug ground to level out the surface, and you’re ready to fill the soakaway with rubble. These broken stones should surround the drainpipe and finish around 100mm above it.
Alternatively, if you prefer to use a more modern alternative, you could pick up a soakaway crate. These can be purchased from any DIY shop and resemble giant plastic milk crates that can be easily snapped together, and negate the need for any kind of rubble. If you use a soakaway crate, just dig your hole to the appropriate dimensions and feed in your drainpipe, then fill the surrounding area with soil.
Whichever storage technique you use for your soakaway, you’ll need to place a layer of impenetrable material over the top, which could be constructed of anything from polyethene to concrete (that’s right – you’ll need to cover your soakaway crate too, if that’s what you decide to use). Once this is done and you are happy with your installation, check once more that you are abiding by building standards (consulting a professional if necessary) and replace your soil and turf.
Is a Soakway Expensive to Install?
As always, this depends on whether you embark on the project entirely as a DIY venture, or if you will be bringing in the services of a professional – there are many specialist companies all over the country that specialise in these installations. If you do bring in outside help, be sure to consult your local water supplier as you could be eligible for a rebate on future bills.
Can I Empty Waste Such as Sewage Water into a Soakaway Drain?
Under no circumstances should you do this. It will clog the drainage system and eventually result in a need to dig up and re-install the soakaway pit, as well as risk damage to your garden soil.
How Do I Clear My Soakaway Drain?
Soakaway worms can be poured into the trench that will feed to your soakaway, and will proceed to set up home in the soil in the area and keep the lines of your soakaway clear. This is only a one-time purchase, as the worms will breed once in situ.
Soakaway Worms are Not Helping – My Downpipe is Still Blocked?
You may need to use a jetwash or drain rods. If this is the case, you should probably consult the assistance of a professional.
I Have Clay Soil on My Property – Can I Still Use a Soakaway?
Maybe, but it’s very unlikely to be successful – you really need soft soil to garner the benefits of a soakaway. Consult a professional before spending any time or money on such a project to confirm that it’s a viable option.
What’s Better – a Soakaway Crate or Building My Own?
This is a case of horses for courses. Obviously building your own soakaway is cheaper than purchasing a crate, but it’s also more labour intensive.