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Drainage Swales - Residential

Swale: a shallow, and often wet, tract of land; sloped to convey surface drainage towards a City right-of-way.

Shared drainage swales are located on common property lines and graded to meet the requirement of the approved Lot Grading Plan.

The following diagrams and pictures illustrate how the swales help drain the runoff away during the rain:


Typical Common Drainage Swales between lots

During Heavy Rain

After Light Rain

After Average Rain

Final Grade Swale

For lots that drain from rear to front, a swale is located in the back yard where the forward slope of the lot meets the rearward slope of the foundation grading. The rear internal swale directs surface drainage to one, or both, of the side lot swales.


This Rear to Front Surface Drainage diagram shows how the swales direct water away from the properties



For Split Lots, common shared swales are neccessary to direct surface drainage from the highest points to the nearest street or lane.


This Split Surface Drainage diagram shows how the swales convey water to the front and back



Swales on common property line must provide a minimum of 15 cm of unobstructed width within each property.


This is an example of Swale on the common property line which maintains at least 15 cm of unobstructed width from the driveway



If decorative rocks or wood chips are used, the rough grade must be raised to final grade to maintain the function of surface drainage.

Placing decorative rock on the clay (rough grade) will create a place for ponding

Improper grading generates a chance for ponding

Raising the base to final grade before placing decorative rock will minimize or eliminate ponding

Acceptable final grade base

Lot-to-lot drainage may be approved due to the topographic conditions of the developing areas.

On some lots, an easement or right-of-way is registered to allow a concrete or grass drainage swale construction. Easements or rights-of-way shown on approved Lot Grading Plan must be displayed on Lot Grading Certificate.

Note: There is a 1.5% of minimum slope requirement for grass drainage swales, and a 0.75% for concrete drainage swale.

This lot-to-lot drainage directs surface water from one lot to the other

This grass swale is marked with a string line as a guide.

Grass Swale on Easement/Right-of-way

Concrete Swale on Easement/Right-of-way

Common Concrete Swale between lots

For more information:

Drainage Services, Public Services

5th Floor, Century Place
9803 - 102A Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
T5J 3A3


311 or 780-496-5576

Fax 780-496-2865
Email lot.grading@edmonton.ca