Poor drainage..need help!


LawnSite Member
Sayville, NY
Sorry for the lengthy post, but I figured I would need to provide some background to better explain my situation.

Back in September of 2019 I had an in-ground pool installed. Since my house backs up to wetlands, my pool needed to sit a bit higher (because of water table) and a retaining wall was built around the pool and backfilled with dirt (fill). In March of 2020, the pavers were installed and then the yard was regraded. A month later plants were installed and then topsoil was brought in and grass seed was laid down.
The grass looked like it was going to come in nice but then I noticed that after running the sprinklers the yard would basically look flooded. I adjusted watering times but even the slightest bit of watering would still create puddling, and any rainfall would create a huge mess. Needless to say, the grass never really filled in and ended up looking sparse and unhealthy.

Fast forward to now, here is what I have learned about my yard:

1- I have major compaction in the areas where all the heavy machinery drove for the pool and landscaping. I can barely get a shovel 1" into the ground. It's hard as a rock. Once I get through about 4-6 inches of hardpan the soil gets a little easier to dig in.

2- I think the pool company (and landscaper) brought in shitty dirt to fill in around the retaining wall and rest of yard. It's heavy clay with lots of small rocks in it. Basically impenetrable stuff and retains way too much water.

3- I feel like the landscaper didn't do the greatest job sloping my yard either. There is kind of a "gully" in the middle where the water really pools up.

Anyway, the picture I posted shows what my yard looks like after some rain..it's like a swamp. It takes days for it to dry out. Mind you, I never had this issue prior to getting the pool. I had a nice yard with lush grass.

My plan was to wait until the spring and then do the following:
1- break up hardpan with rented rototiller. (Worried about sprinkler lines though)
2 - Incorporate some compost to help break up clay and then bring in a bunch of topsoil and till that in as well.
3- Regrade and then seed

Any thoughts?




LawnSite Senior Member
That would probably be my plan as well. The sprinkler main lines should be to code depth, and you just have to avoid those too deep with the tiller or do them by hand.

Regular core aeration afterwards and fill the cores with good topsoil/compost and it should be doing good. You would probably want to do it every few months.


LawnSite Member
Sayville, NY
I agree! I'm actually very disappointed with my landscaper. I paid him good money for all the work, somewhere around $50k-60k for the retaining wall, pavers around pool, plants, topsoil, seed, and grading. I feel like he should fix this situation considering he was the one that did all the work and drove most of the machinery on the yard that caused the compaction. I wish he would have broken up the soil (hardpan) before he laid down the topsoil...which I don't think was enough anyways (~2"). Had he done that I think my yard would be draining much better. I actually lost a whole row of cherry laurels he planted because of water issues. Hopefully I can get him back to remedy this.


LawnSite Fanatic
Mt. Laurel, NJ
Did he provide you with a detailed plan before you approved it. If he doesn't stand by his work, you might have a good case against him, but I'm no attorney.


LawnSite Silver Member
Kansas City
For that kind of money, I would definitely be considering legal action if he isn’t willing to work with you. Even if it’s just paying for an hour or two of the lawyer’s time and sending a demand letter, may get him to start moving.

But before you take it to that step, approach him casually about it and try to be reasonable. He might not even have a clue how bad it is.