If you have visited Costa Rica in the green season, you will understand what aguacero, or downpour, really means.  Rain is a way of life in the jungle: it nourishes the ecosystem and freshens the heat.  It is an element that people here work around and even fight through at times.  Because a large majority of our clients visit us in the high season when rain is sparse (Dec-Apr), we want to bring to attention some factors to consider when viewing properties that may go unnoticed in the drier season.
If you have experienced heavy rains in Costa Rica, you know how quickly the ground can saturate. This water does dissipate within hours or a day, but it can potentially overwhelm your property during that period.  Many of the homes built in the Southern Zone are perched on the slopes of mountains or in the mountain valleys, so while the water is trying to find the path of least resistance down the mountain, if your residence is in the way, you may need to consider building a good drainage system to control the flow of water on your property.
The majority of the 2016 green season (May-Dec) has received less precipitation than usual and this was the trend for most of Central America.  But according to IMN, October has been 10-50% wetter in the central and south Pacific thanks to the effects of La Nina.  On average, this region of Costa Rica received between 120-160″ of precipitation per year, with the majority of it happening in October.
For the smart home owner, there are ways to protect your property from any temporary drainage problems, while also maintaining aesthetic appeal.
Create a drainage plan
If the downspout won’t solve your dilemma, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.  Sketch out a plan that includes your property and all key features, including house, driveway, landscaping, etc.  Next, draw arrows showing how water flows from the high to the low areas on your property.  And possibly the best idea is to grab an umbrella and walk around the property when rain is pouring down, so you can eyewitness the flow of water on your property.  This can help you visualize the best solution for the best solution to channel water.
Check your drain pipes
The simplest fix to drainage issues tends to be extending or redirecting your downspout to solve water pooling around your house.  Survey your situation to find the source of water, which is often as simple as checking the downspout.
Adding a drainpipe to areas that tend to collect water can also shift or disperse the problem of collecting water to other areas.  For this, you need an area that is lower than where the water is pooling to direct the water so that the drainpipe is at least on a 1/8” per foot slope.  One solution is a smooth PVC pipe with a plastic catchment buried in your problem location and should be easy enough to clean with a drain snake.  Open concrete “cunetas” are another solution.  Always check that you are not running your excess water into your neighbors yard and shifting your problems to someone else.
The rain garden
The solution is not always as difficult as the problem may seem.  Because we tend to have landscaping around our houses, these areas can create pools of water lacking proper drainage for plants.  One easy solution is planting deep-rooting, water loving plants such as wildflowers, shrubs, ferns or small trees in the areas where water tends to pool to create a ‘rain-garden’ that helps to sump the excess water without need for diverting the water.  This won’t solve all of your rainwater problems but will help with soil erosion and will replace the muddy holes in your yard with beautiful plant life.
Create your own creek bed
When you understand where your water flows from, building your own creek bed can be a beautiful way to direct the water away from problem areas.  When done well, this creative landscape feature will look good, even in the dry season.
Begin with creating a shallow drainage ditch and then line it with gravel, stones and add features like boulders, bridges and plantings.  It is easiest to do this before you plant, so new homeowners take heed.
Create a Dry Well
A dry well is simply a large hole filled with a well-draining aggregate like gravel, which will hold excess water while it waits to soak into the ground.  For areas with a lot of pooling water, you can increase the capacity of your well by burying plastic barrels that will help to collect and hold more water, and these should also be surrounded by the porous aggregate.  The dry well should be large enough to collect the first 10-15 minutes of a large rainstorm, which generally means
For many of these solutions, it is best to consult an expert.  Osa Tropical Properties are your team of real estate specialists in the Costa Ballena area and we know the best professional to to help you with your home drainage needs.