Un level yard with standing water in middle and squishy

wenchrisrehabApril 14, 2013

I have owned this property for over 10 years and we had a pool in the middle of the backyard. The back yard has always held water and I'm pretty sure the neighbor to the right, and uphill has his yard and driveway sloped to drain down to my yard. There is an old French drain system that doesn't work and soil erosion seems to be occuring as the corrugated pipes of the drain are now visible in the yard and not buried. Don't know where to begin to fix this problem. I need to make the yard dryer and more usable for future renters or possible resale. Any advice?

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Based on the angle of the houses to the fence it looks like you are on a slope that drains to the left in the picture. Can you open a drain either to the left in the picture or toward the camera and go past the house?

Also while it is hard to tell from the picture, but did the yard originally drain through the area where the shed is currently?

It looks like there is a pile of dirt that could be reclaimed from around the tree in by the fence to use for fill.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 5:54PM
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The house is a raised ranch with a walk-out from the basement. The yard slopes down from the house and down from the neighbor on the right. I was told once that there had been a creek that ran along the back fence line, don't know if that's true or not. I took numerous pictures that show grading and existing drains all over the yard but I can only figure out how to post one per message.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:10PM
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I made a collage showing grading of the yard and hopefully drains that we're installed years ago. Any more suggestions on how to prevent water pooling and mushiness in the lower areas of the yard?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:34PM
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I would fill it in with dirt and dig up the drain and re do it . That or put a nice pond or canna bed there :)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Thanks. I had thought about a pond but over to the side of the yard. I have walked the back, side and front perimeters and cannot find any way to drain to a sewer that is not an uphill slope. We are just the lowest yard on the block.im not sure. What a Canna bed would entail, but I'll research it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 5:24AM
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You've got water pooling in a central spot.
OK, that's what you've got. Now why?

You had a pool...and I'd guess that the ground the pool sat on is now compacted....compacted hard. The ground will not accept water to drain down into it.

So, the first thing to do is fix the problem. Do what other gardeners do when confronted by compacted soil. Aerate.
Without going into detail of how to do it....I suggest you read on why, and how to aerate soil.
There is equipment you can rent at 'rent'all' dealers that make the job less stressful.

Aside from snow-melt, every spring there is bound to be some water that collects in a particular area. If you are the recipient of all your neighbors drainage, then possibly you can do something about it....it is still illegal in most jurisdictions to have your land drained on by a neighbor.

At the boundary, a berm--a heightened portion of land --could be built to stop such drainage from entering onto your land. A swale---a depression--could be built (actually dug) so that drainage is allowed to run in a direction best suited to get rid of it. (usually to the street/ditch/culvert/drain) It need not be very deep....possibly only a couple inches---depending on the amount of drainage.
Generally, if you and your neighbor get along, he will assist you in preventing his water from coming so much onto your land. But nature will have its way. You still get snow-melt and rain.
It certainly appears though the pooling is a result of poor drainage into your ground----not by whatever moisture is given your yard by your neighbors.
A swale can often take care of those times when inordinate amounts show up in springtime.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:38AM
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Ok, so I will aerate the compacted ground and build a berm against the fence of the uphill neighbor. In the berm I include a "French drain" that
Runs out To the street (this would be. Going uphill though). If I drain downhill more water will go into the downhill neighbors yard. Once I aerate do I still need to regrade or fill some of the low lying spots? Would you suggest sand, topsoil, clean fill dirt? The soil is obviously eroding some in the upper slope since the old French drain has been uncovered. I discovered while power washing the deck and patio that water pools on the patio, at the edge of the patio where it meets the lawn. Made me think the patio has sunk below level of grass there, so I think I need to raise the level of the patio too. Finally, how do I go about getting grass in the yard? Sod or seed? Thanks

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:25AM
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If the area was just a depression that landfill could level out and affect its drainage, then you could try it but given what you say, about having once had a pool in the area, my thoughts are that the land there is too compacted to allow it to absorb water without pooling.
Sometimes, pooling can be just put up with, until, over time, it either evaporates with the sun, or percolates slowly down into the soil or you drain it by other means....such as the french drain.
Aeration will often fix a problem of why grass wont grow on compacted soil.

A swale, near the boundary, is so to take away that drainage that comes onto your land from a neighbor.
Its just a small conduit -- not meant to act as a drainpipe.
It can be just an inch or so deep....3 or 4 inches wide.
It is designed to let water drain off land where you can affect its movement --over an extended line---even up to 100' -- to a place where it drains away---usually a street.

But, you cant fight nature....and you cant make water run up hill. The swale has to allow water to drain downhill..even if that level is only an inch or two.
If the move is uphill....then forget a swale. Unless you change the level, a swale wont work.
You have to find a way to make it move away from your land toward a place it can move on itself. If that is toward a neighbor's yard, then maybe, working with that neighbor you can figure out a more practical method of getting rid of the water.

If the area in question is due to a pooling in an area and its always the case...that is, it happens every year...then maybe think a "cistern".

A cistern is a large hole---its dug, gravel is put into the bottom and built up toward the surface where grass is allowed to grow.
Water coming into the area percolates down, through the gravel, and out through the surrounding soil.

You might get in touch with a "well-man"....he can better advise whether a cistern could be used.
Where water collects, and its not feasible to try to remove it to another area---such as a drain, then a cistern might solve the problem.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 2:57PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Quite a mess: Holes, hills, and rocks. If you are pooling water on the concrete you must deal with all that drainage before thinking about a new lawn. New lawns are much better when they are installed in the fall, so just relax for now. Worry about the drainage.

A berm will prevent the water from coming onto your property. A swale will invite the water onto your property so that you can, hopefully, drain it away. But if you berm it, it becomes the problem for the neighbor. And it should rightly be his problem, so I vote for the berm. The berm does not have to be very high. In fact I have seen fences torn out, berms installed as high as 1 foot, and the fencing going back on top of the berm. This gives you a few inches more privacy and takes care of the neighbor's water drainage all at once. After you get the berm built and are sure it is working, then you can deal with any drainage issues you have. But if you have water draining from the yard onto the concrete, the yard needs to come down several inches. This accumulation of too much topsoil happens routinely when people "just want to topdress 1/4-inch every so often." Inevitably they topdress 1 inch and the drainage is all screwed up. I have pictures of yards that are 8 full inches out of whack due to top dressing.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 11:02PM
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