Yard Drainage and Landscape BMPs

county of san diego watershed protection program


Yard Drain

Yard Drain Maintenance

Did you know that your yard drainage system (French drains, weeping tiles, and sub-surface drains) is only intended to carry rainwater from your property to the road or street and NOT for non-stormwater activities such as sprinkler or wash water runoff? Non-stormwater activities may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into our storm drain system and eventually make their way into our local waterways and ocean.

Here are a few key tips to prevent non-stormwater runoff from carrying pollutants into our waterways.

  • Redirect sprinkler heads and hose down items such as patio furniture away from your yard drain.
  • Temporarily cover your yard drain with a bowl or mat when watering.
  • Use dry methods such as sweeping to clean your gutters, patio, and yard.

See our Yard Drainage flyer for more ways to prevent non-stormwater from entering streets and storm drains.

Landscape Best Management Practices (BMPs)

In addition to a properly maintained yard drain, you may already have landscape Best Management Practices (BMPs) on your property that complement your yard drain system. The BMPs help to further prevent stormwater pollution and irrigation runoff. Typically, after a heavy rainfall, runoff that has collected in the BMP will slowly infiltrate into the soil, reducing the amount of runoff and pollutants discharged to the local storm drain system. Three common BMPs are:

  • Detention – helps protect against flooding by temporarily pooling runoff on your property to allow runoff pollutants within it to settle to the basin floor prior to being discharged to the storm drain system.
  • Infiltration -- diverts stormwater runoff flows to areas where water can percolate through the surrounding soil using natural filtering such as gravel, mulch, or grassy trenches.
  • Vegetated -- uses vegetation (often various shrubs and grasses) and soil to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff through flow-thru planters, buffer strips, and vegetated swales.

Like yard drains, BMPs will need to be regularly cleared of debris to ensure they are operating properly and ready to perform during a storm event. For more information on maintaining your structural or landscape BMPs, see our BMP Fact Sheet webpage.

Landscape BMPs


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Watershed Protection Website


project clean water

Project Clean Water efforts are focused on providing a centralized point of access to water quality information and resources for San Diego County Watersheds. Click HERE to visit Project Clean Water’s website. 

To learn more about the County of San Diego - Watershed Protection Program, please visit sandiegocounty.gov/stormwater