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Old 04-27-2011, 08:42 PM   #1
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


Hi,

We have water standing in our backyard .

On the picture you can see the west end of our backyard and about 1/2 foot of water in the lowest area.

The soil has clay.

Water level seams to be high.

The water has nowhere to drain.

Here is what I am considering:
1. digging some post holes and adding some organic matter or filling them up with stones - create dry wells
2. mixing some soil with organic matter (digging some holes and mixing those up)
3. Adding more soil (but will this only mask the problem?)
4. I was reading on gypsum - adding some to break the clay
5. other options?
- water pond and water plants?
- planting some trees/shrubs that like this type of conditions?
- contacting city to get their recomendations?
- paving/etc. the area?
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:05 PM   #2
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


WOW - that's a pretty bad drainage problem. Ever thought about putting in a pond - What does your neighbor's yard look like? Do they have a pool or something else that is contributing to your problem?

You have two problems:
1. clay heavy soil doesn't percolate well - water doesn't travel through it quickly

2. low spot in the yard that has nowhere to drain - even if you didn't have clay, a bowl in your yard will still gather water.

#2 is easier to solve via dry wells, drain tile, swales, etc combined with eliminating the negative grading. You've gotta give that water somewhere to go. Just don't send it into your neighbor's yard (bad karma) and find out what your local rules are about rain runoff.

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Old 04-27-2011, 09:41 PM   #3
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


Well, thanks for the pond option, but I don't like mosquitoes

My neighbor's has a slightly elevated grading with a ditch next to the fence. Water is standing there next to the fence but not on his property.

If I add more soil on top of the existing 'negative grading' is that just going to mask the problem or resolve it?
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:49 PM   #4
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


The big problem with 'filling in', is that you won't be able to push dirt up against the fence. Your neighbor's land being higher than yours is part of the problem.

Google 'swale' this might be a good solution for you.
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:49 PM   #5
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


You need to determine if that is standing surface water above the clay, or if you are looking at groundwater level. The simplest way to tell is to dig a hole about four feet deep, put in a perforated pipe, and observe the water level in the pipe over a period of several months. The water level in the pipe will represent the groundwater level.

If you have high groundwater, digging a drywell is not going to do anything, the drywell will fill with water and will be a wet well. If you have perched surface water, then removing the clay down to a permeable layer and backfilling with permeable soil like sand or gravel will allow the surface water to drain, and your problem will go away. This does not work if you have a high groundwater level, but you need to know what you have before you can formulate a plan to fix the problem.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:14 PM   #6
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


I'm assuming that the water level is not always that high, or you would not have grass there. You'd have a swamp. We had a similar problem in our previous house. In the spring, it would always reach a point just like you have showed....the ground would absorb some water but after a few heavy rains it would just start to collect and it would stand for days.

I think your best solution is a combination of all of those ideas.

Digging post holes and filling them with rocks and/or organic matter is similar to what is called a "rain garden"....essentially a pit that acts as a reservoir for collected water and which are popular in denser suburban areas to lesson runoff and preserve water. You could do a large area or as you suggested several smaller ones. This is essentially an "underground" pond that will not create a breeding area for mosquitos.

You can add gypsum but if the clay is naturally occuring and not the result of some poorly sourced topsoil that was dumped down, it's not going to make all that much of a difference unless you add a lot and till a fair amount of soil. However, it will help to alleviate the problem by letting the ground absorb some water and so decreasing the amount that collects in that area, assuming it is draining from elsewhere on your property. So will adding more soil. But neither will solve the underlying problem.
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Old 04-28-2011, 06:23 AM   #7
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


Dry wells and similar drain solutions are illegal in many areas! Be careful. I think you need to intercept and divert the water from high ground before it reaches that low spot. Some of your problems sound like they come from your neighbor's solution to their drain problems and you may have to work out a common solution with them.

Other neighbors have similar problems? Too often developers just do a land scrape to level for home construction and don't pay much attention to overall land drainage. You may have to call a civil engineer to help you all fix this if it is a development wide problem.
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Old 04-28-2011, 07:13 AM   #8
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


Are those large old trees in the area around the ponder water? What type of tree? How long has the house (and the standing water) been an issue?

I have a similar situation in my backyard. I get standing water about 1-4" deep around a 5-10' wide low area. I cant change grade because i have neighbors fence there, and anyway any change would just transfer the water to them.

I've received a lot of well intentioned advice, but some of it conflicting, so I don't know whose to act on.

Some thoughts--

I've heard about amending the soil with sand, but have also been told that can create more headaches depending on the current soil... They say it can create a cement like consistency, I have no idea if there is any real truth to that.

If those are large old trees, and the problem is an old one, then some say it seems more likely to be a soil permeability issue then a water table issue because the trees would die if they were in an area of standing water for months.

My plan as of now is to rake and aerate, amend with a thin layer of good quality topsoil and over seed with deep rooted grass in the hopes that it's a permeability issue and not water table.
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Old 04-29-2011, 10:23 PM   #9
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


Another option http://www.prairienursery.com/store/...ex&cPath=13_16

This is where I got most of my seed.

Prairie plants grow roots several feet deep and can help clay soils drain.

I have heavy clay soil and I've started a prairie garden a couple of years back.

Its something neet to look at and less mowing for me , good for the

environment .
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:33 AM   #10
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


Friends of mine down south around New Orleans would crack up at some of these suggestions and would probably mail up a gator. They live around swamp land because they have to. This poster does not.

The land is not draining. The neighbor built a burm or something on the other side of the fence. That is contributing to problem.

This situation begs for a competent civil engineer, landscape or grading contractor.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:25 PM   #11
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Water standing in the backyard - clay soil


thanks! a few ideas sound like might work

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