How to Design a Drainage Ditch

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Things You'll Need

  • 2-foot stakes, 2

  • Tape measure

  • Twine

  • Line level

This type of drainage ditch can be found in many green ways and along roads.

Drainage ditches are used to move standing water from one location to another. Many home owners and gardeners use them to better control the amount of water that sits in one area of their yard. Low spots in a yard or garden tend to collect and hold water during heavy rain. These areas can create mosquito problems and damage the landscaping. Designing and using a drainage ditch can be a simple solution to a problem.


Step 1

Locate the lowest point in the area that collects the standing water. Place one of the 2-foot stakes there. Measure from the ground up 1-foot along the stake. Mark that 1-foot spot, and tie one end of the twine at that point.

Step 2

Move over to the destination spot. This is where you want the water to go. Place the second stake here. Wrap the other end of the twine around this stake, pull it tight and tie it off. Place the line level on the string, and slide one end of twine up or down along the stake until the line level is level. The line is level when the bubble sits between the two center marks.


Step 3

Measure in various spots the distance from the ground up to the string. This will give you an idea of the slope of the terrain. High numbers are low areas, and low numbers are high areas. For a drainage ditch to work properly, the numbers have to start out low at the low area and end up high at the final destination. This provides a slope for the water to follow.

Step 4

Dig along the twine line while checking the slope about every 3 to 5 feet. Once the ditch is dug, re-level the twine line and recheck the slope of the ditch to make sure the number gradually increases.



William Kinsey

William Kinsey lives in Concord, N.C. He started writing articles in March 2009, which have appeared on and He currently holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. He also has several years experience as an outside plant engineer and planner with AT&T. He also currently owns and operates Sophisticated Curves, an online fashion mall that caters to the needs of plus size women.