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TimRemo 03-26-2019 10:26 PM

Standing Water - Backyard
 
4 Attachment(s)
The front half of my back yard has no issues with water drainage. The back half is another story. It takes 2-3 days after a good rain for it to drain. I live in Illinois so the ground is warming up after some recent good weather. I dug a hole 13 inches deep and almost 12 inches in diameter. It was pretty moist and easy to dig. As I got to the bottom of the hole, there was plenty of clay. My plan was to fill the hole with water and figure out how quickly it'd drain. I got distracted with something else and came back about 45 min later and the hole had water in it. I didn't even get a chance to fill it! About 4 inches of water accumulate in the bottom. I decided to not fill it with water. I came back an hour later and there was about 1.5 inches more water in it. Around the area is pretty soggy still. I'm not sure the backyard completely recovered since after melting snow and a recent rainfall. However, I did this today and there's no standing water on the surface. Just some areas where the ground is real soft. I also realize this area is oddly uneven. Some areas are raised up, and some areas kind of sink as I step on them. Kind of like the grass gives in. Hard to explain. I moved into this house 2 years ago. I always have he drainage issue but never noticed this about the unevenness. It's as if the grass is kind of lumpy. Again, hard to explain.

Anyone know what's going on? I was going to dig a drywell at some point to help with standing water in that area, but will this be useful if water accumulates so quickly underneath the top soil? Is a drywell even possible with a lot of clay in the soil? Anything thoughts or feedback is appreciate.

I included pictures of my yard during February. This was after a warm weekend and a bunch of snow melted and left standing water. This is similar to (but not as bad) as what happen in the warmer months after a good rainfall.

3onthetree 03-27-2019 10:00 AM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
If you're having the consistent ponding year round you need to find a place for it to go. Can't tell grades from the pictures but looks like it'll be tough. A drywell has its purpose, but only if you have a large area for the leaching back and the surrounding soil even allows it. Clay would not be suitable. And a drywell as retention only, not piped anywhere, would be quickly overwhelmed.

Your lumpiness, I would guess, could be either a lot of crabgrass or very loamy top layer in spots.

TimRemo 03-27-2019 12:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 3onthetree (Post 5801933)
If you're having the consistent ponding year round you need to find a place for it to go. Can't tell grades from the pictures but looks like it'll be tough. A drywell has its purpose, but only if you have a large area for the leaching back and the surrounding soil even allows it. Clay would not be suitable. And a drywell as retention only, not piped anywhere, would be quickly overwhelmed.

Your lumpiness, I would guess, could be either a lot of crabgrass or very loamy top layer in spots.

So, I’d say there’s about a 6 x 12 foot area that really has that standing water for a couple days after big rain falls. I was going to put a 50 gal Flow Well drywell about a foot below the surface in the middle of that area. Surface water would drain into that. The drywell has small holes in it to disperse the collected water to the surrounding area. The low areas may ne no more than a few in hes lower than the high points of the yard. Are you saying this wouldnt really work in my situation?

3onthetree 03-30-2019 10:30 AM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
You said the ponding is even worse in warm weather and clayey soil, that means the ground is at saturation during those times. A drywell would then have no place to disperse the water. It would really be holding the water until the subsurface amount has subsided back to the natural water table height (or at least below the drywell knockouts). You can check with the NDS Flo-well calculator to see if 50gal is enough, but the assumption is it calculates flow in to flow out, but can't address the saturation variable.

A drywell would certainly help a small area like yours if there's no where to drain. If you can pipe it somewhere though (or even using the 4" side knockout as an overflow exit) that would eliminate water during frozen ground and with the 100 year rains that seem to be consistent in the midwest now.

Domo 03-30-2019 12:24 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Illinois - clay.

Slope on your property is no known.

The area close to the house was probably dug up and backfilled with material from some other job - therefore, it drains better.

The rear of the back yard cannot get past the clay. The solution is to "ask" the water to go somewhere else (I say "ask" since water is stubborn). You can try a french drain system (grid of trenches filled with gravel and then covered with dirt/grass. Slope and where is goes will be the question.

Many states have geologic information regarding the thickness of strata (clay, gravel, etc.). You could find how thick the layer is in your backyard and drive a point (well) into the ground to all the water to pass to the more permeable layer - you still may need a french drain system to channel the water to the point's location. Alternately, if the clay is not too thick, you can a few bore 12" holes and fill with gravel. YMMV based on cost.

lenaitch 03-30-2019 01:22 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Like others have said, you soil is getting saturated and with the underlying layer of clay the water has no where to go. A drywell will only serve as a holding tank unless you can pump/pipe it somewhere. You could dig in drainage tile if you have the slope and destination to terminate it. As mentioned, if you can determine the thickness of the clay layer and what is underneath it you could possibly bore some drainage holes through it.
Some neighbours here actually inadvertently created your problem. We are very (very) sandy here so any topsoil eventually leeches away. Some new builds had their contractor put down a layer of clay before back-grading with topsoil. Without natural drainage, a couple actually created the situation you have and had to get someone in to bore holes through the clay.

Let it Snow 03-30-2019 01:44 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Rent a small backhoe. Remove the topsoil and pile it up. Dig a pit about 8ft in diameter and as deep as the small machine will dig, maybe six feet deep. Fill it with 2B gravel. Dig a few trenches leading to the pit and line them with gravel.
Cover everything with topsoil and plant grass. Haul extra dirt away.

TimRemo 03-30-2019 09:48 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lenaitch (Post 5804005)
Like others have said, you soil is getting saturated and with the underlying layer of clay the water has no where to go. A drywell will only serve as a holding tank unless you can pump/pipe it somewhere. You could dig in drainage tile if you have the slope and destination to terminate it. As mentioned, if you can determine the thickness of the clay layer and what is underneath it you could possibly bore some drainage holes through it.
Some neighbours here actually inadvertently created your problem. We are very (very) sandy here so any topsoil eventually leeches away. Some new builds had their contractor put down a layer of clay before back-grading with topsoil. Without natural drainage, a couple actually created the situation you have and had to get someone in to bore holes through the clay.

So, the water that came back into my little 1 by 1 foot hole subsided to about 7 inches below the surface. It wasn't getting higher or lower. I filled the hole up with water, and within about 3 hours, it rained down back to about that 7 inch mark below the surface.

Based on yours and everyone else's comments, there's probably a layer of clay (I think I hit clay about 1 foot below the surface) that isn't letting that water drain below it (or at least at a very slow pace). Am I understanding that correctly?

Let me explain to see if I understand. For a dry well to work, I'd need to dig a big enough hole to where the bottom of that dry-well would make it past the clay? This way the holes in the bottom of the dry-well would get all that surface water to a point in the ground that drains? I'm imaging a catch basin at my surface that collects and pipes surface water straight down to that dry-well.

I'm guessing/hoping I can get past that layer of clay. My neighbor on the left has a bigger yard and has zero surface water! However the neighbor on the right had a similar problem years ago, and a drywell worked for him (I think the hole was close to 8 or 10 feet. He couldn't remember exactly.

lenaitch 03-30-2019 10:03 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TimRemo (Post 5804257)
So, the water that came back into my little 1 by 1 foot hole subsided to about 7 inches below the surface. It wasn't getting higher or lower. I filled the hole up with water, and within about 3 hours, it rained down back to about that 7 inch mark below the surface.

Based on yours and everyone else's comments, there's probably a layer of clay (I think I hit clay about 1 foot below the surface) that isn't letting that water drain below it (or at least at a very slow pace). Am I understanding that correctly?

Let me explain to see if I understand. For a dry well to work, I'd need to dig a big enough hole to where the bottom of that dry-well would make it past the clay? This way the holes in the bottom of the dry-well would get all that surface water to a point in the ground that drains? I'm imaging a catch basin at my surface that collects and pipes surface water straight down to that dry-well.

I'm guessing/hoping I can get past that layer of clay. My neighbor on the left has a bigger yard and has zero surface water! However the neighbor on the right had a similar problem years ago, and a drywell worked for him (I think the hole was close to 8 or 10 feet. He couldn't remember exactly.


A dry well is place for water to be directed to until it can drain away naturally. It can be groundwater, gutter run-off, etc. Your layer of clay could be a couple of inches thick or several feet. The reason that your one neighbour doesn't have standing water could be a result of any number of things; no clay, better natural drainage of the topsoil (including draining to saturate your property - yikes!), etc. The underlying clay could be banded or widespread. An earlier suggestion to see if your municipality, department of ag., etc. has any soil mapping for your area is a good start. Without some research you would be digging blind.


Edit: It's hard to tell from the photos but the entire neighbourhood looks really flat. This is one of the problems when they allow development without adequate surface drainage.

TimRemo 03-31-2019 09:12 AM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lenaitch (Post 5804275)
A dry well is place for water to be directed to until it can drain away naturally. It can be groundwater, gutter run-off, etc. Your layer of clay could be a couple of inches thick or several feet. The reason that your one neighbour doesn't have standing water could be a result of any number of things; no clay, better natural drainage of the topsoil (including draining to saturate your property - yikes!), etc. The underlying clay could be banded or widespread. An earlier suggestion to see if your municipality, department of ag., etc. has any soil mapping for your area is a good start. Without some research you would be digging blind.


Edit: It's hard to tell from the photos but the entire neighbourhood looks really flat. This is one of the problems when they allow development without adequate surface drainage.

Well I have an idea of how the dry-well works. Thanks. It's just a matter of figuring out my ground make up. I'll call the village tomorrow and see if they can provide me with any information. If clay runs really deep, I may be out of luck.

One last thing. If I end up being so "lucky" that clay runs pretty deep, would adding topsoil 1/2" every few weeks or so to my low spots work? Or maybe even remove the grass from my 6'x12' section and add about 1 or 2" of soil and re-sod it? I've read about this for leveling back yards. Since half of my yard has no drainage issues, maybe leveling everything would distribute the water a little better? Or do you think I'm just adding more soil to get soggy? My guess is that this wouldn't work, but I figured I'd ask since I've gotten a lot of feedback here.

Bondo 03-31-2019 09:23 AM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Quote:

Since half of my yard has no drainage issues, maybe leveling everything would distribute the water a little better?
Ayuh,...... Have you measured how deep the water is, in various places,..??

That measurement will tell you how much top dirt to add,......

Or,...... Raise the entire yard 6", pitched away from yer house, 'n garage,......

Then any water problems will be yer neighbor's problem,.....
It's not Right, but yer neighbors did the same to yer lot,.....

AllanJ 03-31-2019 09:41 AM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
Dig your test hole a little deeper to get an idea of how far down the clay layer goes.

If you hit sand within 24 inches of the surface, fihish your hole ot 1 foot wide by 25 inches deep, fill it with water, and see how fast the water level drops and how far.

If you don't hit sand, you will just have to flip a coin to decide whetehr to dig the dry well there (perhaps 4' deep altogehter) and use it for your drainage system including or not including a French drain.

If you dig a dry well and find it stays full of water much of the time then put a sump pump in it and send thew ater out front where it drains on the surface without a problem./

Calson 04-03-2019 04:14 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
A dry well in conjunction with a French drain that is parallel to the fall of the yard would help a great deal and not too expensive to do if you can get a small trenching machine into the area.

Another option is to plant evergreen trees which transpire many gallons of water through their needles and the roots naturally go to where there is water. Often areas become boggy after land developers put in mini dams in the form or new roads and remove all the trees from the land.

AllanJ 04-05-2019 10:08 AM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
If you use French drains to cover a wide area, you would need several of them extending out like spokes of a wheel, all sloped very gradually towards and dumping into a center dry well.

Instead of having a sump pump, a dry well could have an outlet or outlets to a leach field. This choice would be more difficult in your case since the leach lines will work a lot better under the clay layer as opposed to within or above the clay layer.

snic 05-05-2019 02:36 PM

Re: Standing Water - Backyard
 
I'm a month late to the party, but it seems to me that putting in one or more of those Flow-Wells should work. 50 gallons is quite a lot. If your wet patch is 6 ft x 12 ft, and has 2 inches of standing water, that's about 75 gallons. All of that would fit into 2 Flow-Wells.

Even better would be if your front yard has some slope down to the street. Then you can install a Flow-Well in back, but also run a pipe to the front (sloping down). There you install another Flow-Well. So the total capacity is 100 gallons, but in the front yard the water will drain away from your property.


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