Several people in rain boots standing in a flooded street

5 Landscape Designs That Prevent Flood Damage

If you live in an area that’s susceptible to flooding, you know how much damage it can cause.  

According to FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program, even just 1 inch of water can result in over $25,000 of damage to your home, and that doesn’t include damage to personal property.  

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to your landscape to help prevent flood damage – like building a barrier or choosing plants that are tolerant to flooding.  

Below, we cover 5 landscape designs that can help keep your home and belongings safe from floods.  

#1: Slope Soil Away from Your Home’s Foundation 

A good way to prevent water from pooling around your home is by sloping soil away from your foundation walls. That way, if runoff from your roof or gutter pours within a couple of feet of your home, it has a clear path away from your foundation. 

Man doing foundation repair

Of course, the next question is: how much of a slope is necessary?  

While the answer depends on a number of factors, the consensus seems to be that 6 inches for the first 10 feet is usually enough (that translates to a slope of 5 percent). Ideally, the ground should drop by 0.6 or more inches for every foot that you move away from the foundation according to the U.S. Department of Energy. 

You can check if your home has a slope by pounding two stakes into the ground (one next to your foundation, the other 10 feet away), attaching a string to them, and then using a string level to measure the grade.  

If it’s under 6 inches, you may need to add soil near the foundation and tamping it down to increase the slope.  

#2: Build a Barrier in Flood-Prone Areas 

Building a physical barrier, like a wall or mound, can be a great way to divert water away from your home, however, it can also be a large and costly undertaking.  

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering building a barrier: 

First, you need to pick a location that will be most effective in preventing water from entering your property. This will vary depending on the layout of your land and the direction of the floodwaters, but it’s a good idea to focus on your vulnerable areas.  

A yellow wheelbarrow filled with soil

Something else to consider is the height of your barrier, which will also vary by situation.  

If your home is situated in a low-lying area, your barrier needs to be tall enough to prevent flood water from overtopping it. On the other hand, if your home is built on sloped land, a shorter barrier that simply redirects water runoff might be all you need.  

A yard with tiered landscaping

Third, think about how you can integrate the barrier with the rest of your landscape.  

Maybe you can build a stone levee that blends into your garden? Or raise a section of land and create a natural barrier? Whatever your taste, try to find a balance between utility and design when designing your barrier.    

#3: Add Drainage Areas 

Another great landscape design that prevents flood damage is the perimeter drain, also known as a French drain. 
Perimeter drains are usually installed around the perimeter of your property and are connected to a system of pipes that carry the water away from your home. The drains are usually buried underground, and they have grates or catch basins that collect the water and channel it into the pipes. 

A French drain being installed in a yard


Perimeter drains are particularly effective in areas where the ground is sloped towards your home, but they can also be used to direct water away from landscaping, patios, and driveways, protecting these areas from erosion and flooding. 

#4: Choose Plants that Prevent Flooding 

Did you know that in some excessively rainy regions, it’s common to plant “rain gardens” of grass, shrubs, and plants that help soak up excess water? Or that trees and hedgerows can slow water runoff caused by flooding? 

It’s true, plants aren’t just pretty to look at—they’re also a great way to protect your home against flood damage! 

A yard filled with plants that help with flood control

Typically, the best plants for flood control are native ones—flowers, shrubs, and grasses that naturally grow in your area. But non-native plants can also do the trick.  

Here are a few ideas to kickstart your search:  

  • Flood-tolerant trees such as cypress, willow, and oak 
  • Grasses such as sedges, cattail, and rushes
  • Shrubs such as dogwood and azalea  
  • Flowers such as goatsbeard, leopard plant, iris, and canna  

#5: Install a Rain Barrel 

By collecting water at the bottom of downspouts, rain barrels are an excellent (and easy) way to protect your home from flooding.  

To install your own rain barrel, you’ll need to purchase a barrel, a downspout, a drain kit, and a hose.  

The barrel can be made of plastic or metal and should have a capacity of at least 50 gallons. The downspout should be positioned so that it drains water into the barrel, and the drain kit will allow you to connect the barrel to the downspout.  

A rain barrel next t o a home

And that’s it!  

Flood damage can be extensive and often requires expensive repairs. By taking proactive measures to prevent flooding, homeowners can save themselves a lot of time, money, and stress.