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wet backyard

I've recently bought my first house and I have discovered I have some drainage issues with the back yard. I need the backyard to be fairly dry for a rather specialized hobby of mine, and I preferably need to address it by spring. I have three large trees (1 willow 2 maples) which are sickly so will be coming down in a week or so. I'm hoping this helps some. I also plan to add some soil to the yard in spots up near the house so the dogs don't get so muddy. Now for my water issue near the back of the yard. I think I understand the concept of installing drainage ditches(or french drains) and drywells. Pick the section of yard I want to drain and run the ditch or french drain to a different spot. My problem here is the yard is fairly flat sooo... do I now have to create a slope for this to work? Also instead of a drywell, is it feasible to just deepen an already flooding section of the yard and basically turn it into a pond (no chemicals are used on the lawn, but there are dogs)? Thanks for any help anyone can give me with this problem.

Erika, Newark("new-ark", not "nork")DE

A. Spruce
Re: wet backyard

I would recommend regrading the yard so that it naturally slopes to the sides, then collect the water there in a drain line that runs to the street or other municipal storm run-off collection point. It is illegal to redirect water from your property to surrounding properties.

IMHO, French drains and dry wells are not suited to landscape drainage, it is better to regrade to get natural drainage. You can regrade by either moving the dirt you have or by bringing in new top soil.

Re: wet backyard


Could you provide some idea of how large an area of yard has to be treated??

Large tree removal can be expensive & the yard may be defaced to some extent in the removal process---but I would agree that tree roots can cause much damage to buried sewer & drain lines & septic systems---especially willow tree roots, which are notorious for clogging drain/sewer lines.

I would recommend getting one or two opinions from local landscape contractors (Yellow Pages, "Landscape Contractors")---these would be free estimates of a BEST PLAN that could be developed to accomodate the unique characteristics of your yard & its drainage problems---don't hesitate to ask the opinion of the tree removal workers as to how yard drainage can be improved.

As a DIY project, this is considered heavy work, especially if you have a large yard---power equipment is often necessary to move soil around & dig trenches for drywells & drain lines---although much can be done by hand---but an overall PLAN with expert advice is important.

One step you can do on your own is to buy a manual post-hole digger---a $20 item that you can use to dig holes 2' deep in various points in your yard to fill with water & time with a watch how long it takes each hole to drain its water in your yard at various locations---the quickest draining holes are where to dig & locate the drywell/french drain.

Without these so-called perc holes, it's impossible to tell what kind of soil you have below ground---you may have a lot of clay or shale in your sub-soil that makes drainage a big problem---perhaps except for one or two areas that drain very quickly---well-draining areas are the place to put in the drywell & trench & pipe to the wet areas with 4" schedule 35 drain pipe to solve the standing water problem.

Another unknown possibility is that there is a 2' or 3' top layer of clay or shale in the wet area that is completely preventing drainage---in such a case the clay layer can be punched thru by excavation & the drywell built to just below the clay or shale level for effective drainage.

The previous owners of the property may have some idea of the yard's sub-soil conditions---give them a call---otherwise you will have to do some discovery with a shovel.

I DO NOT think it's a good idea to create a "pond" in any part of your yard as a solution.

Google "soggy yard" to get numerous sites that treat this problem.

Re: wet backyard

Ok, so consensus seems to be so far that I will need to regrade the yard. (That is one reason I am having the trees removed, that and since they are not healthy I figure removing will be less costly than one falling on my house). I will consult with a professional on that, thank you;-). I will not be able to run drainage to the street, so i suppose 2nd best choice would be a drywell. I will check the spots as recommended and see what I'm dealing with. My lot size is something like 69 x 132. the house sits more to the front of the lot so the area to be treated is rather large.

thanks you!


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