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zechstoker
12-11-2012, 11:55 PM
One of my customers approached me last week about her lawn's seemingly lack of drainage, and has asked me to figure out what the problem is, and how to correct it. Since I'm stumped on this, I'm looking for some feedback from you guys.

So here's the situation:
This customer hasn't turned on her sprinklers in weeks, and we get very little rain around here. This time of year, we're getting between 1/4" to 1/2" per week. Even with this little bit of rain, the lawn is still soaking wet literally all the time. It was even like this during the summer months when they'd only run the sprinklers for 5 minutes. It's so wet and muddy that my 21" Honda is leaving trench-like tracks across the yard when I've attempted to mow through it.

Ground conditions: There's no hills of any sort. It's completely flat/level ground. I'm not sure what the exact term is for its soil type. It's not sand or clay though. Not sure if that helps at all. Also, there doesn't appear to be a problem with run-off coming from any of the neighbors' yards.

The only thing I can think of is maybe there's a broken water line under the lawn somewhere, but the moisture problem isn't confined to one area of the lawn, so more than likely that isn't the case here. Anyhow, what's your take on this? Is there something I can do to relieve the lawn of some of this water? Fortunately it hasn't caused root rot in the turf, but I'm afraid it might since we're in cooler weather now.

herler
12-12-2012, 02:08 AM
I don't mean to put you in a spot but you're going to have to get to the root of the problem before we can start working on a solution, if we don't know what is causing it we can sit here and make a thread 100 pages long it won't do you nor the customer no dang good, we have to find out first of all what is the cause of the flooding, once we have that we can start to work on a solution.

Pictures might help...

zechstoker
12-12-2012, 02:50 AM
True enough. I'm not too thrilled about digging up part of the yard for an inspection of sorts, but that's probably my only realistic option.

Also, I'll get pictures next time I'm over there. I thought I had some on my phone, but turned out to just be a couple from the front yard, and the problem isn't in that location.
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1idejim
12-12-2012, 02:52 AM
One of my customers approached me last week about her lawn's seemingly lack of drainage, and has asked me to figure out what the problem is, and how to correct it. Since I'm stumped on this, I'm looking for some feedback from you guys.

So here's the situation:
This customer hasn't turned on her sprinklers in weeks, and we get very little rain around here. This time of year, we're getting between 1/4" to 1/2" per week. Even with this little bit of rain, the lawn is still soaking wet literally all the time. It was even like this during the summer months when they'd only run the sprinklers for 5 minutes. It's so wet and muddy that my 21" Honda is leaving trench-like tracks across the yard when I've attempted to mow through it.

Ground conditions: There's no hills of any sort. It's completely flat/level ground. I'm not sure what the exact term is for its soil type. It's not sand or clay though. Not sure if that helps at all. Also, there doesn't appear to be a problem with run-off coming from any of the neighbors' yards.

The only thing I can think of is maybe there's a broken water line under the lawn somewhere, but the moisture problem isn't confined to one area of the lawn, so more than likely that isn't the case here. Anyhow, what's your take on this? Is there something I can do to relieve the lawn of some of this water? Fortunately it hasn't caused root rot in the turf, but I'm afraid it might since we're in cooler weather now.
Pardon me for jumpin in but i do leak detection.
To find a leak, verify the existence of the leak first.

Make a list of potential sources first.

1) House.
2) Yard.
3) Pool.
4) Pond.
5) Irrigation system.

1) Close all ISO valves, water stops for toilets, sinks, washing machines.
2) Close all ISO valves, close HBs and garden valves and ISO outbuildings.
3) Turn the autofill off and do a bucket test of the pool to see if the pool is leaking.
4) Turn autofill off, check pond for leaks.
5) Turn supply off at ISO valve or BFA, check for weeping valves, low head drainage and check the programming on the controller, there could be a buried runtime in the middle of the night.

Now that you know a bit about where to look and what to shut off, here's the next step.

Your supply will either a well or municipal.

If you are on a well the well will be running all the time or cycling a lot.

If on a meter take a pic of the dial with all the water on but not in use. Wait 5 mins and take another pic, compare the pics for dial movement.

Now the work begins.

1) If yov choose to close as you go, work to the meter or well.
2) If you choose to open as you go, work from the meter or well.
3) Have someone help you so you don't waste time running back and forth.
4) Pics are quicker than writing and much more accurate.
5) Gather all the info yov can before you do any digging.

The irrigation forum has a thread on this topic going right now.


Hope i helped some
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zechstoker
12-12-2012, 02:59 AM
Any and all tips/advice will be helpful to me. I typically don't work on resolving issues such as this, but gott get my feet wet sometime.
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Richard Martin
12-12-2012, 07:24 AM
Let me also add that many states have geological maps that show the topsoil types right down to individual lawn level.

Here is my neighborhood. My lot is 53932. You can see that my soil types are GoA and ExA. I looked in the key and they stand for Goldsboro sandy loam with 0-1% slopes and Exum fine sandy loam with 0-1% slopes.

You should be able to do the same thing for the soil in question.

Toro 455
12-12-2012, 08:36 AM
Core aeration might help. But it sounds like the problem is deeper than a normal aerator can reach.
Toro makes a deep tine aerator, so it must be a common problem. Here's a pic of one. http://www.toro.com/en-us/golf/turf-cultivation/aerators/Pages/Series.aspx?sid=Deep-Tine-Aerators

I'd dig a little hole, pour water in it and see how long it takes to drain. If it don't drain there is either a barrier of some sort, or you're near the water table.
I can dig a foot deep hole in my yard, wait 10 minutes and there's 6" of water in it. Pull the cap off of my well and the water is right there!

Puttinggreens
12-12-2012, 08:48 AM
Do they have a septic system?

RussellB
12-12-2012, 08:49 AM
I would call the water utility. They may have a water main r/w and a leak. their inspectors normally carry leak detection equipment and chlorine test kits. They can also collect samples to compare floride levels of the tap water versus natural ground water. Rule out the municipal supplier prior to racking up bills looking for something that may not be the homeowners responsibility.

Kiril
12-12-2012, 12:37 PM
One of my customers approached me last week about her lawn's seemingly lack of drainage, and has asked me to figure out what the problem is, and how to correct it. Since I'm stumped on this, I'm looking for some feedback from you guys.

So here's the situation:
This customer hasn't turned on her sprinklers in weeks, and we get very little rain around here. This time of year, we're getting between 1/4" to 1/2" per week. Even with this little bit of rain, the lawn is still soaking wet literally all the time. It was even like this during the summer months when they'd only run the sprinklers for 5 minutes. It's so wet and muddy that my 21" Honda is leaving trench-like tracks across the yard when I've attempted to mow through it.

Ground conditions: There's no hills of any sort. It's completely flat/level ground. I'm not sure what the exact term is for its soil type. It's not sand or clay though. Not sure if that helps at all. Also, there doesn't appear to be a problem with run-off coming from any of the neighbors' yards.

The only thing I can think of is maybe there's a broken water line under the lawn somewhere, but the moisture problem isn't confined to one area of the lawn, so more than likely that isn't the case here. Anyhow, what's your take on this? Is there something I can do to relieve the lawn of some of this water? Fortunately it hasn't caused root rot in the turf, but I'm afraid it might since we're in cooler weather now.


I have a client with the exact same problem. If the entire lawn is like this, it is highly unlikely it is a leak. So here is the problem.

Compacted subsoil + rain + cool weather = soggy, mushy soil.

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=240989&d=1330099315

BTW, your soils are likely loam, sandy loam, or clay loam.

zechstoker
12-12-2012, 04:39 PM
Do they have a septic system?

No septic system or wells on the property. It's in a recently developed sub division with sewer lines and water provided by the city.

Smallaxe
12-13-2012, 10:55 AM
No septic system or wells on the property. It's in a recently developed sub division with sewer lines and water provided by the city.

Seems to me that there has to be some problem with the city's plumbing for there to be that much water all the time... The simple thing to do is what is known as a perc test in which you dig a cubic foot hole and dump water into it and see what happens...

I have a lwan in which the "Topsoil" was straight red clay that formed a barrier over the sand and the lawn requires very little water as a result... When I dug into it for the first time to plant some trees, I found that,,, after a couple of inches this clay had turned rock hard and bone dry with no moisture in the sand underneath...

A test hole can show you some things... If not,,, call the city next and have them see if their plumbimg is all OK... good luck... :)

1idejim
12-13-2012, 12:37 PM
Seems to me that there has to be some problem with the city's plumbing for there to be that much water all the time... The simple thing to do is what is known as a perc test in which you dig a cubic foot hole and dump water into it and see what happens...

I have a lwan in which the "Topsoil" was straight red clay that formed a barrier over the sand and the lawn requires very little water as a result... When I dug into it for the first time to plant some trees, I found that,,, after a couple of inches this clay had turned rock hard and bone dry with no moisture in the sand underneath...

A test hole can show you some things... If not,,, call the city next and have them see if their plumbimg is all OK... good luck... :)

Why do any digging any holes or contact the purveyor before you do a water off meter test?

Photo document the meters dial indicator while water is not being used, wait 5 - 15 mins and take another pic.

If you have a difference in the position of the dial indicator or the leak detector is moving, you have a leak.

I find leaks and buried valves for a living. The toughest part of the job is educating people on simple verification tasks.

Once a leak has been verified or eliminated, proceed in the proper direction.

Drilling or digging exploration or perc holes is one direction to travel but i would call in a soils engineer to consult in any non-leak situation.
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Smallaxe
12-14-2012, 08:49 AM
Why do any digging any holes or contact the purveyor before you do a water off meter test?

Photo document the meters dial indicator while water is not being used, wait 5 - 15 mins and take another pic.

If you have a difference in the position of the dial indicator or the leak detector is moving, you have a leak.

I find leaks and buried valves for a living. The toughest part of the job is educating people on simple verification tasks.

Once a leak has been verified or eliminated, proceed in the proper direction.

Drilling or digging exploration or perc holes is one direction to travel but i would call in a soils engineer to consult in any non-leak situation.
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Good advice... I believe they claimed there was no water going into the lawn from the house, which leaves incoming and sewer, but you are correct in making absolutely sure...
IMO, calling in a soils engineer to check perculation is like calling an electrical engineer to change a lightbulb... but if people are not comfortable doing a particular thing on their own, it is always better to shift responsibility to some one else who can handle it...
Whenever a client doesn't agree or understand what I'm saying about anything, I always back-off and tell them they should then talk to So&so about it... CYA, is job 1... :)

White Gardens
12-14-2012, 10:10 AM
Just from the simple fact that it's a newer sub-division, I'm going to say that there is a severe hard-pan below the surface. Only real way to alleviate this is to do a deep tilling if you can and renovate the lawn. Problem is that if there is irrigation, you'll need to watch out for all the piping.

But ya, if you need to, get some professional assistance on this one.


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