Advice on dealing with wet area of yard

blairs_2009March 26, 2009

I am in southwest ohio and am trying to garden in a subdevelopment. My challenge is that we have have clay soil and my yard was graded to allow for water drainage with the neighboring yards. When it rains--as it has the past 2 days, the area (about 3 feet wide and across the entire length of my rear yard) becomes like a little stream--water mainly sits there (doesnt flow). Given that its clay, the water will sit there for days afterward, there are places where the ground is not flat so I get little pools of water that linger a bit longer, and given that we have an irrigation system, the ground never completely dries out--it's always "squishy" in this area.

I have tried planting 2 willow trees (one on each end of the yard) and while they are thriving, the water still accumulates. I've also tried bringing in top soil to help level the area out and judging by the water that is laying out there today, it didnt help. We cannot enjoy walking around the yard as 2/3 of the plantings are on the other side of this wet area.

I have pictures if anyone is interested; however, I would greatly appreciate ideas on helping to improve this part of the yard. To date I have not planted anything directly in this wet area but I'm wondering if more willows, river birch, etc, would help to manage this issue. We did install a stone bed over one area (so we could walk around the rear part of the yard and enoy the garden) but that has begun to sink into the mud...

Please help!

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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Have you thought about trying to just go with it, and making it a marsh/pond? There are lots of plant ideas that will work with a scheme like this. I don't know if you have a homeowners association that would prevent you from making a body of standing water, but if not, that is something I'd consider. I'd love to do something like that with water-loving grasses, irises, etc. Maybe add a little wooden bridge over the boggy area, to give you access to the planting areas beyond?
Also FYI if you don't want stones/gravel to continue to sink into mud you can lay down landscape fabric using staples. It won't stay perfectly in place because of the water issues, but it will contain the stones.
The other idea would be to install a french drain but obviously you'd have to have a channel to send the water into, ie: a destination. In a subdivision that may not really be available to you though, since you can't/don't want to send it out into the street because of erosion.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:19AM
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mini dry well. not sure the volume of standing water you're dealing with but if you excavate say 6' by 3' by 2' deep, line hole with geo textile fabric, fill 4/5 with clear gravel (3/4"), cover with geo textile fabric top up with decorative river rock or other, grade so that water drains to this area. You could play with it; shape it like a dry creek plant decorative grasses behind, a small boulder or two, ground cover in the front... to make it more appealing and looking like an intentional design.

This dry well will essentially act as a natural storage basin taking standing water from the surface where it is a nuisance and a mosquito motel, storing it below the surface from where it will then slowly percolate deeper into the ground. The size of it depends on the amount of standing water you deal with during seasons of heavy rain. Not a small operation necessarily but the only tricky part is disposing of the cut earth you remove from that hole. (Berm up another part of your garden, rent a small dumpster bin?)

good luck

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 2:33PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Plants that tolerate standing water, for short periods of time but will also live without it:
River birch
Redtwig dogwood
Aronia vars.
Many varieties of daylily
Yellow Iris (I. pseudoacorus)
Ajuga varieties
Houttuynia, Chameleon (Houttuynia cordata ÂChameleonÂ). Careful! Can be invasive!
Liriope varieties
The best solution is to get your neighbor to let your drainage go away through their yard, a tough one...taking soil away vs. adding is usually the best answer, honestly! More soil usually dams it up for someone else, just like has probably happened to you.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 7:02PM
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Pictures would be helpful.

I like the wooden bridge idea that will get you from one part of the yard to the other, especially coupled with the idea of a rain garden. Rain gardens help the environment, besides becoming an aesthetically pleasing way to deal with the problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rain Gardens

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 9:04AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Think Rain garden, plant flowers and grasses that would do well in those conditions.

Some of my favorites include asclepias incanarta, and joepyeweed!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 11:18AM
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