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Old 03-01-2001, 02:32 PM
Steves lawns Steves lawns is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
Posts: 2
I recently added an addition to my backyard. Although we tried to preserve the topsoil, the underlying soil is heavy clay and some did get mixed in. Also the yard is relativly small (40'x50') and has a slight slope toward the house. We did grade the 10' closest to the house and the result is that after every good rain there is a pond in the middle of the back yard.

To solve this I tried to make a dry well by diggin a 20'x1'x2'deep trench. I back filled it with large stones and a 4" drain pipe (I though this would give me more volume for water.)Then topped it with 4" of soil and grass seed. This helped but a pond still arrives during any heavy rain and lasts for 12 hours or so. Needless to say the grass in this area is dead.

Three questions. First, I can drain the 4" pipe to the street (about 50') with only a 1/8" slope. Is this worth trying?

Next, The soil in the entire yard (not just the pond area )remains soggy. Is there any way to improve the soil drainage in general.

Finally, do you have any other solutions that may help
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Old 03-03-2001, 01:49 AM
khouse khouse is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: lee's summit, mo
Posts: 1,476
No bigger than your yard is you might as well do it right. Have a pro with a transit excavate and put the proper grade to your yard. Slope it away from your house and to the street. Add some sod and your ready to go. If you had just a small area that was holding water then your drainage pipe would be fine. But you said a lot of your yard was soggy. 1/8 per foot on 4 inch pipe and 1/4 per foot on 3 inch is the minumun slope. So it will drain if you decide to do that.
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Old 03-03-2001, 09:03 AM
GroundKprs GroundKprs is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: South Bend, IN
Posts: 1,969
If you have heavy soil, grading will not necessarily correct a drainage problem. The main problem is that some tier in the soil profile will not allow water to precolate downward easily. By changing grade, either by adding soil or pushing around topsoil, you do not achieve the necessary drainage. Example: stopper the bathtub drain, then fill tub to overflowing with sand. Sand is mounded as high as possible. Now run the shower until water overflows, and shut it off. Check it a day later, and water level is still at top of the tub. This is the same effect in your situation, except the soil does eventually drain.

You must work with either improving percolation, effecting better runoff, or both. This is not and easy problem to solve, and many who say they can will not succeed. Many of the drainage solutions I have seen are a result of trial and error. Honestly, if someone has a good knowledge of soils (soil being topsoil down to 3-4 ft, often deeper) in your area, he "most likely" could help you. You might get a good start by contacting your local county cooperative extension service. They could refer you to drainage experts in state management that may get you started in the right direction. In our state, drainage falls under Dept of Natural Resources, and DNR experts will come right to the site to advise you.

Also be aware that drainage cannot be looked at just on site. It has to be viewed as a community issue. You don`t want to just push your problem onto someone else. I have seen four homeowners, on properties comprising 3+ acres, solve their drainage problems by installing a drywell at a strategic location on one property, with a drainage tile across another. The 4 shared in the expense, because they all benefitted.

[Edited by GroundKprs on 03-03-2001 at 01:06 PM]
North central Indiana
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Old 03-03-2001, 09:38 AM
LawnSite Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: n.j.
Posts: 318
I agree with groundskpr, you may be able to use a drywell right in the middle of the run of your pipe. remove the pipe. Adjust the grade of the trench so it runs to the middle. dig a big hole.....a really big hole and fill with stone bury the pipe more like 2" under the surface. As far as amending the soil you could add lots of humus...I believe you want stable humus as apposed to friable can e-mail me if you desire more info....I can mail it to you.....I have a great article on humus benefits to drainage...ED
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Old 03-04-2001, 08:39 AM
awm awm is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: stanfield nc
Posts: 3,354

Have you considered a natural area yd.
Ive seen some pretty natural yds.
aw marks
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Old 03-05-2001, 02:38 AM
Kansas Turf Man Kansas Turf Man is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Ingalls, KS
Posts: 47
I would go with khouse from above do it right. Start over and have the lawn graded. I would hire a professional to do the job. As far as the transit is concerned they don't necessicarily need one. If the person you hire is a pro the should be able to eyeball that size of an area. I would also go with the sod idea it is easy to take care of an looks great from day 1. I wouldn't even consider digging a trench it will always be a headache. Fix it now to realieve your stress in the future.

Good Luck.
Nathan Downey
Turf Specialist
North American Turf
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Old 03-05-2001, 11:58 AM
Steves lawns Steves lawns is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ
Posts: 2
Thanks for the advise everyone.

I think that I will aerate and add some humus to the lawn first. (Fireman, I would appreciate any info you can mail to me on the subject. Please send to I will also add the pipe to the street for the french drain and see how the spring and summer goes.

If it turns out no good then I will look into regrading and sodding in the fall.

Regrading will be a little tricky. The whole backyard is surrounded on three sides with a concrete curb (to keep water out I guess ha ha). The side yards are only 7' and 10' wide so I would have to grade back towards the house.

Any other comments or concerns would be appreciated.

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