View Full Version : Your solution for a damp, thin area?

03-03-2004, 06:17 AM
Customer has a shaded area at the rear of home that gets lttle sun and when it rains allot, the area gets a bit muddy and the dog brings mud into the house. Its not a drainage issue so much as grass wont grow there. Customer does not want to go to the expense of pavers. Area about 150 sq ft. Hardscaping is not our strong suit so I would appreciate any ideas you may have. I was thinking about using large river stone(I think thats what its called...looks like large dinosaur eggs..rounded, smooth). Dig down a few inches, lay heavy landscape fabric, perhaps some crushed stone. level, and lay the river stone. Wont be easy to shovel off but customer wants and inexpensive solution to the dirty dog issue

If you care to, I would greatly appreciate your swag on what you would charge for the approach you would use. Thanks in advance for your advice

Strawbridge Lawn
03-03-2004, 08:43 AM
You have a situation almost identical to one I am beginning this weekend into next week. Down here in SE VA, builders scrape most of the good top soil away and lay sod on a mostly clay base. We all know what happens to clay when it gets wet. 5th wettest uear on record last year here so the sod was always wet and the clay base hase oozed into it. Now it is mud every time it rains. I intend to sod cut 2-3"" of the effected area and slope area gently to #57 tan stone walkway. The walkway will be tapered to a low spot in the center at about 4-5" deep where water will drain towards the side of the property. Water will drain under the walk to Wick drains that will carry the water to the sides of the property and then downt to the street. In the other areas where sod was removed I will grade in about 1/2-3/4 of sand and then lay in new sod over the top. The sand will provide a barrier between the clay and sod where water can leach toward the drain. There is edging to be installed and fabric under the walk so all in all about a $1,600 job.
If I had to keep costs down, I would have not installed the path or edging and put 3/4-1" of sand between the clay and sod.
Hope this helps

03-03-2004, 08:47 AM
GarPa - can you make a bed out of the area and throw in a few serviceberry or other shade tolerant bushes and plant pachysandra in the entire bed?

03-03-2004, 09:11 AM
no I cant put plants in there because its at the rear exit of the home...I also thought about trying to find those big, heavy rubber mats like we used to see in the "old days" laying at peoples front doors. Put some fabric under it and done...but I honestly dont know if that will work either...I'm a little our of my league on this kind of problem.

03-03-2004, 09:56 AM
I had a customer with the same problem before ,that was the solution I came up with but I never got to do it. I came to mow a few weeks later and someone else had installed my design. I was ticked but it looked good and it fixed the problem.

03-03-2004, 01:33 PM
which sloution? the mat or another one?

03-03-2004, 03:21 PM
What about sodding the area? sounds like it has plenty of moisture so it may not have to be watered daily, instant grass. Perhaps you might can use a shade fescue maybe. Other option i guess it a stone area, river pebbles perhaps as an informal seating area or patio. Shouldnt bee too expensive for 150sq. ft.

03-03-2004, 05:57 PM
The only problem I see with the river rock is cleaning up after the dog. It is not the easiest thing to do. The river rock isn't cheap either, though it is a small area. I'm no help with what to plant because of the dog. Keep us posted on what you do. Matt

03-03-2004, 06:30 PM
sod wont work since it gets only about 3 hours of partial sun...and somwhere I heard/read that any kind of seed, fescue included needs 5 ot 6 hours of sun to sustain itself. But maybe I'm wrong on that.

ANyone have any idea where I could buy one of those heavy runner mats...a couple of big ones?..this guy on the other side of 70 so he doesn't care how it looks, just something to keep the pooch off the mud.

MMacsek..good point about the river stone and doggy droppings...nope that wont work now that you mention it.
Back to the drawing board I guess

03-03-2004, 08:05 PM
Have you tried a creeping red fescue or some other shade fescue. Ive had good results with shade seed.

03-03-2004, 09:20 PM
How about a nice clear gravel, or marble chips? The cost can vary widely by region but should be much cheaper than pavers. Over time algae may tend to grow on the rock since it's a shady wet area, so a lighter rock may not be the best thing. I would think gravel would be a little easier than river rock to clean dog poop off.

03-04-2004, 01:15 AM
heh..What about moss?..once established depending on what variety its fairly stable..and its green...if you say its damp and shaded, then it should take no problem...you could install a rock/moss garden...just an idea

D Felix
03-04-2004, 01:54 AM
Why can't you just mulch it with bark mulch?

If he doesn't care what it looks like, put down pre-emergent, mulch it and be done with it. In two years come back and re-mulch.

Organic mulch will be the best for the trees anyway.

Remember, when it comes to trees competing with turf, the turf ALWAYS loses. No way around it, short of a chainsaw, which is a drastic measure that shouldn't be taken lightly.


03-04-2004, 07:50 AM
Im with Dan ...sounds like Id put in a cheap edging / perhaps a poly edge, mulch and pre cast stepping stones.

03-05-2004, 09:05 AM
Ok GarPa - you got me thinking. I had problem areas similiar to what your describing on our golf course cart paths. We used a plastic mat that had lots of hexagon holes in it. We laid these down on the muddy spots and threw some grass seed. The grass would grow up in the little hexagons and solved the problem. This was used in high traffic areas that were accessed by golf carts, so they were plenty durable. The thing is, I can't remember the name of them. I'll try looking them up next week.

03-05-2004, 09:52 AM
grassmechanic...you are reading my mind...couple days ago I found a company in Oregon (or washington cant remember) that sells rubber mats for commercial mfg and horse stalls..they are 3x3 , an inch thick, with holes all over like you describe. It sounds like the solution I'm looking for. If it can work in a horse barn, it can sure as heck can work for one dog. I'll post back here and let you guys know what the cost/shipping is so if you ever need this solution you'll have the info (that is if they ever return my email!!)

Green Gopher
03-05-2004, 01:59 PM

I just did a job like you have described. My client wanted to keep the grass, but lose the extra water. I installed a French drain and brought in 60 yards topsoil (it was a good sized yard) with a slight regrade to slope the water to the drain. It has been three weeks and we have had some good rain, and the area seem for now to be drying out. The owner said the water hasn't stopped running from the end of the pipe, so you know they where holding a lot of moisture in that yard.

I agree with Strawbridge that you may be dealing with a clay base close to the surface. The only thing I would caution you about is make sure that any of that water that is going to accumulate there has some place to go. If you put in gravel or mulch or rubber matting and the water has no place to go then you may end up making things worse. You don't want to lose money by having to come back and redesign a job the client already paid for.

As for the shade, three hours of sun is enough for a good shade mix like NCSU said. The water is your problem. If you can move it, even if just to another part of the yard where the dog doesn't run daily you will do more for your client than the mats will. Over time they may settle in and he will start to see mud in the house again.

I hope this helps some, good luck.

03-05-2004, 09:57 PM
10 ton of gypsum and 100lbs of creeping red / fine fescue.

03-10-2004, 09:24 PM
fill with sand, top with soil and seed it

03-10-2004, 09:46 PM
its been said in this post already just want to put my 2 cents in cheapest way is to build area up slope away from house and re-sod with a shade tolerant variety

03-10-2004, 10:38 PM
A grass like solution is not possible base on what GarPa has said (grass won't grow). So even if you plant a shade tolerant grass, the grass is going to struggle and eventually thin out. Back to square one.

I think Strawbridge Lawn has the best idea so far. Make the walk way and have it drain to a good location. Have a small landscape bed along the walk way (either a rock garden type effect or something with a shade tolerant plants). That's my two cents...

03-13-2004, 12:42 AM
The one thing I can tell you is to stay away from the riverstone idea. Believe me. I'm still trying to get rid of it at my house from the previous owner.It doesn't shovel worth a dang.If stone is necessary use some 3/8 or something else small that's easy to work with.Riverstone sucks.

03-13-2004, 05:49 AM
I found the solution and will mention it here so if you guys have a similar problem this might work for you.

Tractor Supply sells rubber mats that they put in barn animal stalls. I think they are like 4 x 6 and $35. So I buy 4 of these, lay some heavy landscape fabric and put the mats down the issue is resolved easily and inexpensively. THe mats have small holes in them to allow water to pass thru..thanks for all your ideas guys