In countries like the UK with a very wet climate, creating a soakaway is a popular solution to avoid your garden being waterlogged. A soakaway is simply a hole in the ground that is filled with rubble and designs to allow excess water from heavy rainfall to drain away. A soakaway can also help to prevent damp seeping into your property and causing damage.
Digging a soak away allows rainwater to gradually seep into the ground rather than pooling on the surface this is an environmentally friendly solution for heavy rainfall which will also be kind to your garden turf. Before any excavation, you should always check that you are complying with local building regulations, but you will likely find soakaways comply with government regulations on drainage and waste disposal. Current building regulations state that storm water cannot simply be discharged directly into the existing drain and the use of a soakaway is mandatory unless there are certain conditions which means they are not suitable.
The soakaway has to be positioned so that the excess surface water will drain into the hole where the ground is soft, digging a hole into a solid surface will not work as this will simply store water until it overflows. Position the soak-away in the lowest part of your garden at least 5 m away from the property walls. If for some reason you cannot place the soakaway pit in the lowest part of the garden then you will need today channels to guide the water into the pit.
The simplest way to create a soakaway as to dig a pit then full with gravel and rubble. Modern versions use a specially designed crate which can be purchased from most DIY shops. These crates resemble large milk crates which are assembled by snapping them together. Whether you use a crate or rubble, the soakaway pit then needs to be covered using a material that will abide by current building standards. Turf or soil can then be placed over the top so that the pit blends into the rest of your garden.
Please note that you cannot empty sewage into a soakaway drain this will clog up the drainage system and you will at some point be left with their deeply unpleasant task of digging up the soakaway, clearing it out and then reinstalling it!
You’ll know if you need a soakaway, or if your existing soakaway has failed, as you will have pure drainage leading to localised flooding. You should investigate any signs of poor drainage such as flooding as soon as possible as over time poor drainage can lead to much more expensive property damage caused by penetrating damp.
Having a soak away professionally installed more expensive than doing the job yourself but it is not particularly expensive project. The average cost to install a soakaway is around £700 assuming using a local specialist digging the pit into an existing lawn. If the soak away needs to be installed under a driveway this will obviously be more difficult and take longer so expect a bill in the region of £1000. Replacing an existing soak away is slightly cheaper than installing a new one so the tradesmen will likely reduce the price by £100 to £200.
A specialist will be able to carry out an installation in one or two days depending on the size of the pit and the existing soil. Once installed a soakaway doesn’t really need any regular maintenance with the exception of checking it over every few months to check for any buildup of silt or debris, which can be removed manually when the weather is dry if required.