drainage problem

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mac43rn, Mar 31, 2002.

  1. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    I have a new lawn this year. Lawn was planted on Sept 21, 2001. There are a few thin spots but other then that I am very impressed. However there is a section in the back yard (approx 30' x 20') that is very soft. Water standing in part of the area and some parts are even spongy. Last fall (it was dry and had no problems with the area. This spring it has rained quite a bit and the problem has reared its ugly head. I have been told it is like this because the water table is high, but nobody has given me any suggestions on how to remedy the problem. For the record the soil is clay. Are there any drainage experts here? Would appreciate any feedback.
  2. ohiolawnguy

    ohiolawnguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    since the lawn is new, and this would be the first spring for it,i would live with it for a while before deciding to do any type of drainage work.

    is the area in question a low spot in the yard? also, is this area in question in the middle of the yard?

    it could be that the soil has settled some where standing water is. that is a simple remedy. just bring in more topsoil to the problem area, and leveling it out.

    it is hard to tell at the beginning of a season as to whether this is actually a problem or not. now, if during the middle of the summer, this problem still exists, then you should decide on a plan of action.

    there are many possibilities when considering drainage.

    such as:
    if you decided to install drainage, do you have a woodline where the end of drainage could be diverted to?

    if you do, the drainage would be very simple to install.

    having somewhere simple to lead excess water makes drainage simple. if this is not the case, you must either incorporate the drainage into your current gutter/downspout system. or, make a entirely new drainage to run to the street.

    give me a little more information as to the capabilities, or incapabilites of where the water could be diverted.

    but, like i said at the beginning, i wouldn't jump right into putting in a drainage system until you are certain it is necessary.
  3. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    thanks for the quick response.

    the area in question (if you can imagine my back yard as a large square, the area is the back right). Also the area is the lowest area in the lawn, but it starts going up on the right side of my property. Therefore, the area gets water from all four sides. Does that make any sense? The contractor installed a drainage system with 5 french drians that connect to the storm drain in our subdivision. These drains run along the left side of the house and down to the storm drain in the back yard. This has worked out very well. So to answer you question I do believe it would be easy to connect any extra drains to the others or the storm drain. Like I said the poroblem was not there in the summer, but it is there now. It makes it very difficult if not impossible to mow. I have a new gravely with a proslide and I am very meticulous about my lawn. Love the stipes it gives. But when you can only mow certain areas of your lawn it is very frustrating.
  4. ohiolawnguy

    ohiolawnguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    yes,i do understand what you mean about water coming from all four corners. there are 3 basic soulutions here that i can think of without actually seeing the problem area.

    1. scraping away the dirt and grass from back right corner of the lawn, and using that dirt where the lowest spot you mention is. this could possibly allow the water to flow away from the lawn if you get my meaning. that way, you woud get rid of the water flow from all corners, and the water would flow toward the back right corner. what i basically mean is to make the corner the lowest part of the yard.

    2. making a trench, and use gravel in the trench, with drainage pipe. incorporate into existing drainage system. fill dirt back in again and reseed.

    3. this is the last resort idea. make a bed there to put plants that are tolerant of moist soil conditions.

    without actually seeing the lawn, im limited in my ability to diagnose, and solve the problem. but, according to what youare saying, i think the easiest solution is to go with the first one i mention here. the only problem that could occur with that, is where the water flows to after it reaches the corner. IE: neighbor's backyard or woods, or an existing bed.

    if your back property abutts another neighbor's lawn then you may end up just making their backyard have some standing water.

    i hope this information helps some.

  5. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    one thing I forgot to mention is the very back right corner is a landscaping bed. I live in a golf course subdivsion and right of my back yard property is the golf course, however, the storm drain is right there (perfect to drain into). I personally think I have two problems. I think the water table is high right now. We had six inches of rain in march. And the soil is poor (clay). I may try something called agri sc (it is some sort of soil conditioner to losen the soil). I will get a professional (probably landscaper) to install a drain or two in the fall. Right now it is too soft to do any work.
  6. ohiolawnguy

    ohiolawnguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    with the drain being right there, if you could get it to flow there, problem one solved. i think it would be wise to wait till fall just to see if indeed it is because of the recent amouts of rain.

    as far as the agri sc goes, i think you would be wasting your money. . once to twice a year aration would probably be more beneficial than a soil conditioner.
    i may be mistaken about actual effectiveness, but ive never read anything which actual proves the use of soil conditioners to loosen up clay types of soil.

    you could also topdress the lawn occasonally wth nicer soil. but, you would still have the clay soil immediately beneath the nicer soil.

    we have a condo complex which we do landscaping at, and also the mowing. it is currently a work in progress. the majority of the soil there is clay. i would go so far as to say 80% clay.

    when we put in the landscaping, we bring in nice topsoil, lots of compost, and some sand. then we till it all together and grade out the land to prepare for plantings and grass. this still isn'y enough to neutralize the effects of the clay.

    during the summer, these lawns turn brown rather rapidly as opposed to a lawn with minimal amounts of clay.

    if you have a clay type soil, you can only do so much with it. some folks will say otherwise, but i just dont believe it.
  7. TJLC

    TJLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    I mow some yards that have terrible drainage problems during the rainy season. The water sits for so long, it becomes stagnet and full of tadpoles and mosquitos. All I can do is mow around the areas until they dry up. Customers seem to understand this, I have never had one complain.
  8. mac43rn

    mac43rn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    What do you recommend for topdressing on clay soil. I have heard sand, I have heard organic matter such as peat moss. Also, since I am just a home owner looking for a perfect lawn, what would be the most economical way of applying?
  9. ohiolawnguy

    ohiolawnguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 397

    organic matter like peat moss works, or sand will work also. i prefer nice dark topsoil, or good compost. two options as far as spreading the material.

    A. wheelbarrow and sovel, then rake in

    B. rotary spreader: the material has to be dry enough, and prettty fine to fall through the holes of the spreader without clogging it up.

    there are topdressig machines out there, but i have yet to see one at a rental facility

    those are the two most economical ways of spreading.

    where i live, the city picks up leaves in the fall. then, they take it down to the sewage plant, and mix it up occasionally. after about 2 years they screen it and sell it as compost.

    the stuff smells pretty bad, but it works great as a topdressing. i would never use it in a garden though. BTW, the smell only lasts about a day or so.

    if you could find a place who does something similar to that, it would be your best bet.

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