Possible drainage issue?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by zechstoker, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. zechstoker

    zechstoker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 975

    One of my customers approached me last week about her lawn's seemingly lack of drainage, and has asked me to figure out what the problem is, and how to correct it. Since I'm stumped on this, I'm looking for some feedback from you guys.

    So here's the situation:
    This customer hasn't turned on her sprinklers in weeks, and we get very little rain around here. This time of year, we're getting between 1/4" to 1/2" per week. Even with this little bit of rain, the lawn is still soaking wet literally all the time. It was even like this during the summer months when they'd only run the sprinklers for 5 minutes. It's so wet and muddy that my 21" Honda is leaving trench-like tracks across the yard when I've attempted to mow through it.

    Ground conditions: There's no hills of any sort. It's completely flat/level ground. I'm not sure what the exact term is for its soil type. It's not sand or clay though. Not sure if that helps at all. Also, there doesn't appear to be a problem with run-off coming from any of the neighbors' yards.

    The only thing I can think of is maybe there's a broken water line under the lawn somewhere, but the moisture problem isn't confined to one area of the lawn, so more than likely that isn't the case here. Anyhow, what's your take on this? Is there something I can do to relieve the lawn of some of this water? Fortunately it hasn't caused root rot in the turf, but I'm afraid it might since we're in cooler weather now.
  2. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    I don't mean to put you in a spot but you're going to have to get to the root of the problem before we can start working on a solution, if we don't know what is causing it we can sit here and make a thread 100 pages long it won't do you nor the customer no dang good, we have to find out first of all what is the cause of the flooding, once we have that we can start to work on a solution.

    Pictures might help...
  3. zechstoker

    zechstoker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 975

    True enough. I'm not too thrilled about digging up part of the yard for an inspection of sorts, but that's probably my only realistic option.

    Also, I'll get pictures next time I'm over there. I thought I had some on my phone, but turned out to just be a couple from the front yard, and the problem isn't in that location.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. 1idejim

    1idejim LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,358

    Pardon me for jumpin in but i do leak detection.
    To find a leak, verify the existence of the leak first.

    Make a list of potential sources first.

    1) House.
    2) Yard.
    3) Pool.
    4) Pond.
    5) Irrigation system.

    1) Close all ISO valves, water stops for toilets, sinks, washing machines.
    2) Close all ISO valves, close HBs and garden valves and ISO outbuildings.
    3) Turn the autofill off and do a bucket test of the pool to see if the pool is leaking.
    4) Turn autofill off, check pond for leaks.
    5) Turn supply off at ISO valve or BFA, check for weeping valves, low head drainage and check the programming on the controller, there could be a buried runtime in the middle of the night.

    Now that you know a bit about where to look and what to shut off, here's the next step.

    Your supply will either a well or municipal.

    If you are on a well the well will be running all the time or cycling a lot.

    If on a meter take a pic of the dial with all the water on but not in use. Wait 5 mins and take another pic, compare the pics for dial movement.

    Now the work begins.

    1) If yov choose to close as you go, work to the meter or well.
    2) If you choose to open as you go, work from the meter or well.
    3) Have someone help you so you don't waste time running back and forth.
    4) Pics are quicker than writing and much more accurate.
    5) Gather all the info yov can before you do any digging.

    The irrigation forum has a thread on this topic going right now.

    Hope i helped some
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. zechstoker

    zechstoker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 975

    Any and all tips/advice will be helpful to me. I typically don't work on resolving issues such as this, but gott get my feet wet sometime.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Let me also add that many states have geological maps that show the topsoil types right down to individual lawn level.

    Here is my neighborhood. My lot is 53932. You can see that my soil types are GoA and ExA. I looked in the key and they stand for Goldsboro sandy loam with 0-1% slopes and Exum fine sandy loam with 0-1% slopes.

    You should be able to do the same thing for the soil in question.

  7. Toro 455

    Toro 455 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Core aeration might help. But it sounds like the problem is deeper than a normal aerator can reach.
    Toro makes a deep tine aerator, so it must be a common problem. Here's a pic of one. http://www.toro.com/en-us/golf/turf-cultivation/aerators/Pages/Series.aspx?sid=Deep-Tine-Aerators

    I'd dig a little hole, pour water in it and see how long it takes to drain. If it don't drain there is either a barrier of some sort, or you're near the water table.
    I can dig a foot deep hole in my yard, wait 10 minutes and there's 6" of water in it. Pull the cap off of my well and the water is right there!
  8. Puttinggreens

    Puttinggreens LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from southeast PA
    Messages: 399

    Do they have a septic system?
  9. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,719

    I would call the water utility. They may have a water main r/w and a leak. their inspectors normally carry leak detection equipment and chlorine test kits. They can also collect samples to compare floride levels of the tap water versus natural ground water. Rule out the municipal supplier prior to racking up bills looking for something that may not be the homeowners responsibility.
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    I have a client with the exact same problem. If the entire lawn is like this, it is highly unlikely it is a leak. So here is the problem.

    Compacted subsoil + rain + cool weather = soggy, mushy soil.


    BTW, your soils are likely loam, sandy loam, or clay loam.

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