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Old 06-08-2008, 04:25 PM   #1
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


I recently had a sewer main (easement) installed threw my yard. When it rains the water puddles up over the entire area (one area more than the rest) that the construction was done. I am concerned that the back filling and ground was over compacted. The ground was wet at times during construction and also wet because they disturbed my septic drain field while hooking my side sewer up to the main. So with that being said, they used a small track-hoe with a hydraulic compactor attached for compaction. I dug two 1.5 ft hole and filled them with water and in over a week it drained 3" and stopped.

The developer shall do what ever it takes (in writing) to remedy the problem. One suggestion was possibly a dry well or french drain. If the ground is over compacted do you think it will eventually start absorbing water on it own? It makes me sick to think of my yard being dug up again.

Thanks,
Kelly


Last edited by kbrena; 06-08-2008 at 04:52 PM. Reason: To try and add pictures.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:42 PM   #2
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


Overcompacted is probably the wrong word. The right word is probably poorly graded.

It's never really bad to "overcompact" for drainage purposes because it decreases settlement over time and prevents the dirt to be squishy when it gets wet. What it can do is prevent grass from growing well because the dirt is too hard, which is the benefit from core aerating.

The first thing you want to do is determine the grading of your yard and whether water can drain away via a swale. If it's relatively flat, then you should consider a dry well.

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Old 06-09-2008, 11:06 AM   #3
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


No matter how perfect the grade, I will think it is common that you have a few spots which will hold water.... I think the author of this thread is talking about those spots... which should be emptied out over some hour(s) rather than day(s)... which is true base on my experience, as I just dug up my yard and grade is kind of proper, but there are a couple of spots still hold a little bit of water... you know it is next to impossible to have no lower spots when you digged... my experience is, after raining, those spots hold a little bit of water... but after a little while , water is gone due to filtration through the soil.... this is as compare to those water left in some container which can only gone by evaporation which takes forever.....
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:11 AM   #4
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


I wouldn't worry about the soil being very compacted. That isn't a bad thing necessarily.

It is safe to say that you should not have standing water on top of the grade of your yard. Your yard should be graded in a way that does not allow standing water. If that isn't possible, a swale, drain, or other system should be used to move water.

By digging holes and filling them with water, you're essentially performing a perc test. That tests the soil's ability to absorb, or percolate water. If you have a lot of fatty clays in your soil, it won't percolate very well.
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:00 AM   #5
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


The soil has no clay. I have lived here over 20 years and the drainage has never been an issue until the sewer line was put in. With all the soil tuning into mud when compacting and back blading, could it have hardened like concrete? Then by adding 6" of top soil over the top of that would the fresh top soil be the only thing able to absorbing the water?

The puddling area is the same grade as the rest of the yard. Yet the area of construction is the only area not draining. The top soil was graded very even with no dips.

What could cause that area to suddenly not perk anymore? Would them digging up some areas of my septic drain field when hooking me up to the main have anything to do with it?
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:24 AM   #6
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


It apparently has something to do with it.

No, the soil will not harden like concrete. You'd have to add fly ash to it to achieve that, and I am certain they didn't do that.

Would you prefer that they didn't compact the soil they replaced? I think they did it right by compacting to prevent low spots and settlement, and the standing water is a result of a combination of the proper compaction of the excavation and little or no slope on your yard. As the homeowner, you need to find ways to achieve positive drainage from the lot that you chose.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:10 PM   #7
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


I would respectfully agree with your initial assessment in contrast to most of these posts. As a Certified Professional Landscaper, if this is a lawn (turf) area it is absolutely compacted too much. Too many references to cite here will tell you not to cultivate overly wet soil because you will never get the clumps broken up after it dries hard as cement. Same principle here. Perhaps technically one would have to add ash for it to be concrete, but practically speaking it will be just as hard, just as non-porous, and just as difficult to get anything to grow in.
I saw a building contractor grade a lawn once on a 450 caterpillar bulldozer in standing water during the construction of a house. This was the front yard with an overall slope toward the street, just a low place in this particular spot. It was in 1977 and I can only get crepe myrtles and crabgrass to grow there now.
Yes, the soil should have been compacted some. But you are correct in "over compacted." You may need to have some sand spread over and tilled in when it is not too wet or at least aerated.
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:41 PM   #8
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


I've seen this a hundred times. When you dig up the ground, the soil structure is destroyed. The soil basically clogs itself up until the soil structure is developed again. Whenever we install french drains or dig up yards, every single customer calls complaining that we used the wrong soil, the dirt is like quicksand, we stepped in it and sunk to our ankles, etc, etc. We tell them to give it a month and if it's still a problem to call us up and we'll come back out. We've never had to return but we do get a lot of apologies.

Give it some time to redevelop the soil structure and see things get better.

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Old 06-14-2008, 11:03 AM   #9
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


I sure hope that will be my case as well. I asked them to hold off on doing anything until this fall, in hopes that it would start draining itself. Thanks for giving me some hope.
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Old 06-15-2008, 10:12 AM   #10
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


75, just out of curiosity do you guys pack the soil at the end of a job?

Maybe I missed something here but I understood the question to pertain to the soil already being to tight. I agree 100 percent that after you dig a line the soil had been loosened and needs a little while to settle back down. Structurally speaking, kind of like when I prep a bed for planting. The tiller not only loosens the soil but actually fluffs it up about three inches higher than it was before, which will affect how it drains (both from a grading perspective as well as porosity)and whether or not it will drown what I just planted. If it was done right, if some idiot steps in the bed after it rains two days after I planted it, he should go in boot deep.

My apologies if I misunderstood the question.
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:04 PM   #11
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


It seems to me that your garden would need some cultivation, I would recommend some cheap, manual but yet effective cultivator for example http://www.thehardwarecity.com/?sku=2629798 , but there are more options on the site, I think its cheap way to try to solve the problem.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:11 AM   #12
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


What exactly is cultivating? would having my yard aerated be helpful? I no it wouldn't hurt but would it be cultivating? Thanks for replying.

Kelly
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:07 PM   #13
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


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The developer shall do what ever it takes (in writing) to remedy the problem.
Never heard of aerating considered cultivation. To each his own I suppose. It could help but in your original post you noted that you dug a hole 1.5 feet deep and it only drained 3 inches. Aerating would affect about that same distance and if water could not drain past that, I have doubts that it would be effective. However, with all due respect, if there is no problem with having the developer remedy this, why not have a local landscape contractor visit on-site, make a proper diagnosis, and have them make the necessary repairs?
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Old 07-15-2008, 07:53 PM   #14
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


Lol. I probable sound like an idiot with my questions. landscaping is not my specialty. I do not know what cultivating is. Tried looking it up, no help. The bottom line is that you are right with your advice on having a professional analyze the situation.
I appreciate your opinion downunder. Well, here's another stupid question... are you in Australia?

Thanks,
Kelly
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:26 PM   #15
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Water won't drain down in lawn. Help!


I also think it could be the grading. Here's a link I found to a helpul article that, while starting out technical, has great pictures and tips on how a yard should flow. Good luck!

http://www.oldhouseweb.com/stories/Detailed/10286.shtml

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