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Old 06-16-2013, 12:26 PM   #1
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Some of you may have read my first thread about my back yard.. Read on for a detailed explanation of the problem, but the following is the TLDR version:

There's a plastic liner under 4" of sand in the pit in my back yard. I assume this is preventing proper drainage. Clay soil is beneath the liner, which holds water as it is. Is it a necessity for proper drainage to remove this liner (roughly 30'x60') before covering with ~6" of topsoil? I am assuming the answer is yes, but I'd like to be positive. If I must remove this liner, what's the best way to do it? Right now my idea was just to shovel the sand away, cut and yank up pieces of the liner.. but obviously that's back breaking and not ideal..dealing with about 20 yards of sand. Is there a better way to do this without renting a large piece of machinery?


More info:
Previous owners had a 30x60 volleyball pit, outlined with landscaping timbers, filled with 4" of sand, the top of which sits about 2" below grade, on average. Basically I have a swamp in my yard. Every time it rains, I drain it, only recently has it been hot enough to dry it up so I can get back there and inspect.

I'm calling a guy this week to bring in some top soil (total amount TBD, but from eyeballed measurements, it looks like it's going to be about 40 yards), and going to rent a tractor and blade, or maybe a bobcat, or maybe hire someone, to spread it and grade it properly.

As you can see in the picture below (and slew of pictures here), the fence along the back side of my property is small and metal, and not concreted in. I'm going to remove the fence and have the dump truck come across the field that my house backs up to (with permission, of course!). If all goes well, they can dump the dirt right in the problem area and with a fair amount of work my drainage issues will be (mostly) solved.

The problem is that there's a plastic liner under 4" of sand in the pit in my back yard. I assume this is preventing proper drainage. Clay soil is beneath the liner, which holds water as it is. Is it a necessity for proper drainage to remove this liner (roughly 30'x60') before covering with ~6" of topsoil? I am assuming the answer is yes, but I'd like to be positive, since removing it will be quiet a task to do by myself with a shovel. My theory is that the liner is preventing water from seeping into the soil to drain, as well as preventing water in the soil from evaporating. We haven't had rain in a week and it's been in the upper 90's here, the sand is bone dry, but the clay under the liner is completely saturated.


(Full Size: http://justinrowan.com/yard/20130329_121049.jpg)

If I must remove this liner (again, I'm working on the assumption that I must), what's the best way to do it? Right now my idea was just to shovel the sand away, cut and yank up pieces of the liner.. but obviously that's back breaking and not ideal..dealing with about 20 yards of sand. Is there a better way to do this without renting a large piece of machinery? My dad has a lawn tractor that has a hydraulic bucket on it.. I may see if I can borrow it for a weekend unless you folks have a better suggestion.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

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Old 06-16-2013, 08:28 PM   #2
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Quote:
Originally Posted by NegativeTen View Post
Some of you may have read my first thread about my back yard.. Read on for a detailed explanation of the problem, but the following is the TLDR version:

There's a plastic liner under 4" of sand in the pit in my back yard. I assume this is preventing proper drainage. Clay soil is beneath the liner, which holds water as it is. Is it a necessity for proper drainage to remove this liner (roughly 30'x60') before covering with ~6" of topsoil? I am assuming the answer is yes, but I'd like to be positive. If I must remove this liner, what's the best way to do it? Right now my idea was just to shovel the sand away, cut and yank up pieces of the liner.. but obviously that's back breaking and not ideal..dealing with about 20 yards of sand. Is there a better way to do this without renting a large piece of machinery?


More info:
Previous owners had a 30x60 volleyball pit, outlined with landscaping timbers, filled with 4" of sand, the top of which sits about 2" below grade, on average. Basically I have a swamp in my yard. Every time it rains, I drain it, only recently has it been hot enough to dry it up so I can get back there and inspect.

I'm calling a guy this week to bring in some top soil (total amount TBD, but from eyeballed measurements, it looks like it's going to be about 40 yards), and going to rent a tractor and blade, or maybe a bobcat, or maybe hire someone, to spread it and grade it properly.

As you can see in the picture below (and slew of pictures here), the fence along the back side of my property is small and metal, and not concreted in. I'm going to remove the fence and have the dump truck come across the field that my house backs up to (with permission, of course!). If all goes well, they can dump the dirt right in the problem area and with a fair amount of work my drainage issues will be (mostly) solved.

The problem is that there's a plastic liner under 4" of sand in the pit in my back yard. I assume this is preventing proper drainage. Clay soil is beneath the liner, which holds water as it is. Is it a necessity for proper drainage to remove this liner (roughly 30'x60') before covering with ~6" of topsoil? I am assuming the answer is yes, but I'd like to be positive, since removing it will be quiet a task to do by myself with a shovel. My theory is that the liner is preventing water from seeping into the soil to drain, as well as preventing water in the soil from evaporating. We haven't had rain in a week and it's been in the upper 90's here, the sand is bone dry, but the clay under the liner is completely saturated.


(Full Size: http://justinrowan.com/yard/20130329_121049.jpg)

If I must remove this liner (again, I'm working on the assumption that I must), what's the best way to do it? Right now my idea was just to shovel the sand away, cut and yank up pieces of the liner.. but obviously that's back breaking and not ideal..dealing with about 20 yards of sand. Is there a better way to do this without renting a large piece of machinery? My dad has a lawn tractor that has a hydraulic bucket on it.. I may see if I can borrow it for a weekend unless you folks have a better suggestion.

Thanks for taking the time to read!

Your absolutely right,the plastic liner has to come out if you ever want to have that area dry,or at least have the water drain properly,as to removing the liner the easy way,i don't believe there is one.

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Old 06-16-2013, 08:33 PM   #3
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Going to also have to come up with a drainage plan for all that water so it has a place to go.
Just trying to use top soil to raise that grade will just make a muddy mess if the water can not be drained.
I'd use sandy fill dirt then 2 to 4" of top soil.
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:34 PM   #4
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Just turn it into wetland, if you cannot get it to drain. Probably old pasture, or previously wetlands to begin with, before the area got developed. A lot of states & counties will pay people to turn previous wetland areas back into those areas, and let them go back to nature.
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:56 PM   #5
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Thanks for the responses. All along the back of the property (behind the metal fence) for the length of the street is a 15' drainage/utility easement (not concrete, just a slight slope). My back yard is slightly lower than that easement because of the excavation that the previous owners did to put in the volleyball pit. I'm confident that when I raise the grade, water will properly flow to the back of my property, and then wherever nature takes it from there. I'm sure that this won't solve all of my soggy backyard problems, but it's a good start. Once I get the dirt in and everything graded properly, I'll evaluate putting in french drains to the street.

As for turning it into a wetland, that's pretty much how it's been for the last two months. While the cicadas and bullfrogs are peaceful at night, the mosquitoes and snakes don't fit well with my wife and puppy. If I were on more than a quarter of an acre, I would probably leave it as is, but for me it is too close to the house.

A thought I had, would perforating the liner extensively (with something like an aerator or just a rake) serve well enough to allow proper drainage? My guess is no, but I'm just covering all bases. Also, once I get the dirt in and graded, how quickly do I need to get seed or sod down? I certainly don't want my expensive dirt washing away, but I'm not sure how soon I can get grass planted back there.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:05 PM   #6
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Barter with some local guy and see what they can do. You may have to file something with the county, showing what you plan on doing, to alleviate the pond that you have going on.

As for the snakes, they are looking for food (ie frogs, mice, etc.). Cicada's are not attracted to water, they do though come up out of the ground about once every 17 years, and this year it is supposed to be a bad year for them, due to the drought last year.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:14 PM   #7
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Plastic liner retaining water?


I forgot to mention the crawdad infestation all over the lawn, too.

My neighbor is a builder, and I got the contact information of the guy that hauls dirt for his company, I'm going to give him a call in the morning. I hadn't thought about fill and then adding topsoil, I had just assumed I'd put topsoil down. Is fill much cheaper than topsoil? Quotes look to be about $250 delivered for 15-18 yards of topsoil, I haven't priced fill.

Also, how quickly will the dirt wash away if I don't get grass down right away?
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:34 PM   #8
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Perforating the liner is a perfectly acceptable solution. Just make sure to put enough holes in it so it drains.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:43 AM   #9
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Plastic liner retaining water?


If you want to turn this into soil that is going to grow anything you cannot just layer it like a cake. You are proposing clay, with sand over it and finally new topsoil over that? Perhaps with a punctured plastic membrane.

I would put the bucket loader to work and move the sand off the property or distribute it over the backyard. Then take the tractor and till everything together and regrade to once again take advantage of the drainage easement you mention. You may not need more soil although a few yards of organic material would not hurt. Then replant the lawn or whatever you have in mind.

The only problem is that if the sand is too fine, it will be worse than clay as far as compaction. But if you just pile the weight of 6" of topsoil on it you will not be able to grow anything much if it is fine. You have to at least mix it up.

I guess puncturing the plastic could work for drainage but I would bite the bullet and get rid of it. With a bucket, it should not take too long.

Last edited by user1007; 06-17-2013 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:32 AM   #10
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Mud Bugs, all over the place, feel lucky, You can actually make money selling those suckers.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:17 AM   #11
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Plastic liner retaining water?


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If you want to turn this into soil that is going to grow anything you cannot just layer it like a cake. You are proposing clay, with sand over it and finally new topsoil over that? Perhaps with a punctured plastic membrane.

I would put the bucket loader to work and move the sand off the property or distribute it over the backyard. Then take the tractor and till everything together and regrade to once again take advantage of the drainage easement you mention. You may not need more soil although a few yards of organic material would not hurt. Then replant the lawn or whatever you have in mind.

The only problem is that if the sand is too fine, it will be worse than clay as far as compaction. But if you just pile the weight of 6" of topsoil on it you will not be able to grow anything much if it is fine. You have to at least mix it up.

I guess puncturing the plastic could work for drainage but I would bite the bullet and get rid of it. With a bucket, it should not take too long.
At this point, I'll probably try my very best to get rid of the liner. If it ends up being too much of a pain, I'll sufficiently puncture it.


As far as removing the sand, I actually figured it was better for drainage, but didn't think about it being too fine or compact. I doubt I'll remove it it, because I'd just have to replace it with dirt. Though, I'll likely spread it out so it's not as thick.

For reference, here's a picture I took this morning with the pit drained and mostly dry. We got a little rain last night, and are expecting more throughout the week.. doesn't look like I'll be able to get any work done until at least next weekend.


(Fullsize: http://justinrowan.com/yard/20130617_085247.jpg)

There is an elevation drop of a couple inches where the red line is.. I plan on killing and tilling under everything beyond the red line, and raising the grade up to there, and sloping it off to the rear of the property.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:59 AM   #12
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Plastic liner retaining water?


You say that it was a volley ball court,so that means that the sand is of the very fine variety,probably bank sand and you need to either remove it or mix it in with the soil,once you get it scattered around and the plastic liner removed,your problem is pretty much resolved,but if the liner stays and is just punctured,you will continue to have problems with standing water,and slow drainage.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:32 PM   #13
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Plastic liner retaining water?


Breaking news on this front. I got the contact information of the guy that owns that field behind my house. Lo and behold, he does excavation work for a living. He's coming out this evening check the problem out, but he quoted me $150/load for dirt, and $80/hour on the tractor to spread it, said it shouldn't take but about 3 hours and probably 3 loads. I'll get a more concrete estimate hopefully this evening if the rain holds off.

Also, if fill and topsoil are the same price, is there any reason not to use all topsoil?

I'm hoping he can make quick work of moving the sand to remove the liner, and maybe even pop those timbers and the concreted posts out of the ground, too.

Last edited by NegativeTen; 06-17-2013 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 07-27-2013, 07:23 PM   #14
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Plastic liner retaining water?


A quick little update here. I had the guy come out, he dumped and leveled 3 loads of topsoil. I picked up a few pounds of Bermuda and Rye, and a few bales of hay at the farmer's coop, and 4 weeks later here are the results so far. I'm watering 4x a day for 15 minutes. I'm definitely going to have to reseed, I don't think I did a great job initially. Once the bermuda takes and the rye dies off, I'll know for sure.

The yard is still very much a work in progress. TONS of crabgrass and dallisgrass. The last three pictures were from just now. I just got finished knocking down about 10" of dallisgrass with the trimmer... (puppy is standing where it all was) and I need to mow (just got the mower back in working order).

Progress, even if it is still ugly! It's better than it was.







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