Clay Soil Question

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by AssuredServicesCo, Feb 18, 2006.

  1. AssuredServicesCo

    AssuredServicesCo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 113

    I installed a backflow a couple of days ago and will start trenching next week. I was wondering if anyone has experience trenching through wet clay soil. We have a sticky clay here in Dallas and I have to rent a trencher so I am worried the trencher will not be able to perform properly through the muck. Any input is appreciated. Thanks. I'de hate to waste money on a day's trencher rental if it's a problem in the wet clay.
  2. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496


    We have some of our sites in caliche clay areas. The hardpan is located under the clay soil so sometimes we can't get the depth we really want. When it comes to actually trenching through the soil it depends on how wet it is. You can still trench unless the area is totally flooded out. However, the trencher may leave jumbled up wet clay in the trench which means that a LOT of trench clearing of muck will be necessary. What it's going to boil down to is excatly how wet the clay is. You'll also want to have a water hose handy because you'll want to wash down your equipment as soon as practical when done. If not the clay will harden like rock and be next to impossible to remove from the equipment.
  3. advanced irrigation

    advanced irrigation LawnSite Senior Member
    from tx
    Messages: 270

    make sure the teeth on the trencher are all cups, not rock teeth. also make sure you have a crumbing shoe on the trencher boom. good luck
  4. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,881

    And for goodness sake, don't use one those baby trenchers with a boom that almost outweighs the machine. For pure amusement, there's almost nothing like watching the boom 'climb' out of the trench and the whole machine running away from you.
  5. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Our DW 3500 was down for service once and I was stuck with a rental Barretto Walk Behind trencher....this is in the days before we got our 410.

    We were working on a 5 acre property, and trying to save money, I trenched from 8 am to 10 pm.

    I don't think I've ever been more sore. Never again.
  6. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    The three sites that have clay soil often get pushed back a little when we have to do repairs. We shut down isolation valves or the backflow and allow it to dry up somewhat. Nothing worse than digging in this clay soup that reminds me of pig crap. :cry:

    Back to the "hand chipper" for awhile longer. :laugh:
  7. Dennis Spencer

    Dennis Spencer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    Trenching may not be to bad but trying to backfill will. It will be hard to leave a clean job
  8. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    True. Best to backfill with topsoil or sand and cart the slop away, or if practical (depending on site) rake it out and let it dry. However, on small repair projects we've backfilled with the slop and then taped the area off. Once it dries it's hard as a rock. :)
  9. Dennis Spencer

    Dennis Spencer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    Yes we do have experience in clay. If it's wet enough to be called muck you'll be washing sidewalks and drives. We did trying to finish before Christmas.
  10. ESprinklers

    ESprinklers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    Obviously if it's too wet your going to have problems trenching no matter which brand of trencher you use. The problems we run into with this "Crap for dirt" clay we have around here is that we end up having problems with the trencher wanting to get stuck. Clay becomes slicker then heck once it gets wet. Backfill while the clay is still moist and tamp down to smooth out. Dont' let it dry or it turns into little adobe bricks.

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