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Removing or improving large mulch area

Posted by HokieDoke VA (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 12, 13 at 14:16

My backyard is split between a grass lawn and a large raised mulch area. The area is raised above the lawn 2" to 5/6" depending on location (picture included). I moved into my home last Spring and it was looking great as shown. Throughout the summer, even though it was pretty dry, the lawn became more and more soggy, especially near border between the lawn and mulch. I thought maybe it was because of the shade so I limited watering. During a very wet fall and winter, the border turned into standing water, the mulch area began running over the border into the lawn, and currently the mulch area is like a sponge. You sink a good inch or 2 in certain spots. I've come to the conclusion that the mulch area was probably new in order to sell the house without giving any thought to future drainage.

Due to neighbors/laws and expenses I don't want to install a drainage system. I'm thinking about scraping and removing all mulch and some of the top soil under it, tilling the area, and throwing in some shade grass. If that works I would then work on the flower/garden landscaping in the fall or next spring. If grass doesn't work out it's easy enough to throw mulch back on or call the professionals.

Does anyone have experience doing something similar - removing a large raised mulch area? Would my idea of removal/tiling/seeding (dense shade grass) work in this area? Would this just be a total waste of time? My landscaping is limited to regular lawn maintenance and overseeding, and planting small flower beds but always found this to be a great site for do-it-yourself'ers. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Removing or improving large mulch area

are you saying that there are LOW spots that don't drain? Is there a water source to the problem other than rain?


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RE: Removing or improving large mulch area

Where in VA are you? We have lots of issues with drainage in our neighborhood due to our clay and high water table. I find it hard to believe that those wonderful trees aren't sucking up lots of the water. Planting grass under those won't solve your problem and the grass will probably not fare well either. Our neighbors had to dig down and put in some sort of gravel/french drain sort of thing to correct their frequently flooded backyard. Rather than running horizontally, theirs is vertical and moves the water from the surface. Obviously, I am not quite sure what the contraption is. I can ask, though. I do know it was expensive, but it was the only way to solve the problem.


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RE: Removing or improving large mulch area

Take a look on google maps satellite view and see what WAS there. Ask neighbors. Someone may know of an existing problem. I wouldn't do anything until I found out from others what went on, and if they knew of other houses with the same problem.

My parents house was a good example of several flooding problems. The builder screwed up the way the plumbing was underground, they had a soggy area and then without warning 5 feet of water in their basement. Over the next 5 years 4 more houses had the same problem, neighboring houses, builder was sued because of this. That is one example. Next, the new subdivision built behind their house had a drainage ditch put in all the yards in the backyard, because previously there was a hill and then a road where the water drained. Every single one of them filled their ditch, filing front draining ditch you will be caught right away, but filling your backyard ditch, nope. Long story short 20 years later all those houses have new people in them who have no idea there was ever a drainage ditch going along all of their properties, major flooding until my father finally told one of the new homeowners why their backyard is flooding. Now everyone has their ditch dug back in.

Look at your backyard, from that picture you have two shallow bowls, with one high area in the middle. quick drawing of where i see the water flow to be. i question the area marked large in red, raised, why? Assuming it's to divert water you would not send water to an area with large trees with no drainage.

Ask the questions to the right people. definitely check out google maps / google earth.


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