You take pride in your yard, I know that. When you first walk onto your lawn and feel that cold, wet mud squish over your shoe, it’s not a particularly pleasant sensation is it? A wet and muddy lawn can be a pain. Let’s be honest, nobody wants their garden to resemble the final day of the Glastonbury festival. So fear not! I have some tips on how to fix it:
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My yard is always wet and muddy
The reason why your lawn is always wet and muddy is usually because of poor drainage. To exacerbate the problem, having soil that is susceptible to retaining water can make matters much worse. Excess water will always stagnate in one place which will obviously make it wet and muddy. So what can you do? Here are a handful of ideas:
Do a soil drainage test
French Drain With Catch Basins
Build a trench
Raise the yard to a new height
Core-aerate your yard
Add organic matter that will prevent soil retention
Disadvantages of having a wet and muddy lawn
There are several disadvantages of having a wet and muddy lawn. Let’s look at some of the most common:
It can be dangerous
When your lawn is wet and muddy, it becomes slippy and dangerous to walk on. This is especially true if you have young children or pets who like to run around in the garden.
It’s a breeding ground for diseases
A wet and muddy lawn is the perfect place for diseases and fungi to breed. These can then spread to other parts of your garden and damage your plants.
It attracts pests
Wet conditions also attract mosquitoes, which can not only be annoying and cause itchy bites.
Your lawn will suffer
A lack of drainage prevents oxygen from getting to the roots of your grass, which will eventually kill it. If you have a lawn that is always wet and muddy, it’s likely that you’ll need to replace it sooner than if you had a healthy lawn.
Conduct a soil drainage test
The first thing you should do before taking preventative measures is to conduct a soil drainage test. This will give you an indication of how well your yard’s soil drains and what needs to be done to improve it.
A soil percolation test (or perc test) is a type of test designed to evaluate the rate at which soil absorbs water. It’s commonly used to determine which drainage technique should be used in an area with various soils. If the dirt doesn’t absorb water quickly, there are certain drainage methods that you will have to avoid… A soakaway would be an obvious one.
A soil drainage test is relatively simple to do. You’ll need a spade, some tape measure, a 5-gallon bucket or hose.
First, mark out a square area of your lawn that is one metre by one metre. Then, using the spade, dig a hole that is 1ft/ 30cm deep and 30cm wide in the middle of the square. If you want to be accurate, you can use the tape measure to make sure that the hole is exactly one metre deep. Make sure that the walls of the hole are verticle.
Once you’ve dug the hole, fill it with water from the bucket or hose and then leave it for an hour. After an hour has passed, come back and check the level of the water. If it has gone down by more than 12 inches, then your soil drains well. If it hasn’t gone down by this much, then you have poor drainage.
1. French Drain With Catch Basins
If you have poor drainage, one option is to install a French drain. This is a type of drainage system that is used to remove water from an area. It consists of a perforated pipe that is surrounded by gravel and then covered with soil.
The pipe allows water to seep into it and then the gravel helps to disperse the water. The French drain should be installed at the lowest point of your lawn so that water can drain away from your house.
To install a French drain, you will need some gravel, perforated pipe, and topsoil.
First, mark out the area where you want to install the drain. Then dig a trench that is around 1ft deep and 2ft wide. The trench doesn’t have to be exact but it should be deep enough to fit the pipe and gravel.
Once you’ve dug the trench, line the bottom of it with gravel. Then lay the perforated pipe on top of the gravel and cover it with more gravel and fabric lining. The pipe should be slightly sloped so that water can drain away from your house.
Finally, cover the trench with topsoil and soil
Give it 4-6 weeks before you lay new sod.
I also wrote an article about whether or not artificial grass drains well which may be an option for you.
2. Build a trench
You need to dig a trench in such a way that water drains away from your home without damaging your muddy yard or neighboring property.
Fill the trench with gravel if necessary to keep debris from blocking it. If your ground slopes naturally away from your home, make sure it does so by one inch for every 10 feet of drop (or less). Begin the drain at a flooded location or near a downspout outlet and work your way out in an orderly manner. Stop the drain at a safe location where any water flowing out the end will not erode things like fencing or brickwork.
Dig your trench 18 inches deep and 9–12 inches wide.
The trench should be lined with water-permeable landscaping fabric and then 3 inches of gravel.
Lay the perforated drain pipe in the trench and top it with 3 inches of gravel.
Cover the drainage trench with pebbles, dirt or stones.
3. Raise the yard to a new height
If your wet yard slopes towards your home, you may be able to improve drainage by regrading the slope to send water away from your house. Effectively you are levelling an uneven lawn which I have written an extensive article about. This is a more expensive option but it can be effective if done correctly.
If the lawn isn’t level enough, water will pool and drain incorrectly, killing your lawn or attracting pests. As a result, it’s critical to ensure that the ground is level or slopes away from your property.
Fill in the low-lying areas with a combination of soil and small gravel (or soil alone) to the same level as the rest of the yard. Stamp the ground down firmly as you go to avoid creating pockets of air.
With my most recent project, I requested a 16-foot setback from the property, resulting in a 2% slope. When it comes to landscaping in general, the slope is an important element to consider. A moderate slope may add interest to your yard and can be utilized to showcase plants or features. The ideal lawn slope is one inch per eight feet.
The gentle slope will allow for excellent drainage in the event of a downpour. In other words, every 8 feet you go out adds one inch to the depth, resulting in a 2% slope, which is essentially equivalent to a nice gradual runoff.
4. Core-aerate your yard
Aeration is the process of making small holes in your wet lawn so that air, water and nutrients can reach the roots of your grass.
There are two main types of aeration: core and spike. Core aeration is the best type of aeration because it removes small cores of soil from your lawn, which helps to loosen up compacted clay soil and allows air, water and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass.
Spike aeration only punctures the ground, this can still be effective if you only have water build up on the upper layers of the soil. This can be easily done by using a garden fork and simply stabbing the ground every few inches write across your lawn. Do bear in mind that this is usually a temporary solution and may not solve your issue in the long run.
5. Add organic matter that will prevent soil retention
Organic matter is important for your lawn because it helps to improve drainage, prevent soil compaction and provides nutrients to your soil and grass.
There are a few different ways to add organic matter to your lawn, such as adding compost or sand.
Composting is the process of applying a thin layer of compost or manure to your lawn. This is best done in the fall because it gives the organic matter time to break down and improve the quality of your soil before the spring growing season.
Adding sand to your lawn is a good way to improve drainage, but it can also make your lawn feel rough and uncomfortable to walk on. If you choose to add sand to your lawn, make sure that you add a thin layer (no more than 1/2 inch) and that you mix it in well with the rest of your soil.
6. Dethatch your lawn
Thatch is a layer of dead grass, roots and other organic matter that builds up on your lawn over time. If you have a thick layer of thatch, it can prevent air, water and nutrients from reaching the roots of your grass.
Dethatching is the process of removing the thatch from your lawn. You can do this yourself with a garden rake, use a machine that can do this for you or hire a professional that has the expertise to carry out the job correctly.
7. Use Straw
Straw is a great way to improve the drainage of your lawn. It’s also an excellent way to prevent weeds from taking over your lawn.
To use straw mulch, simply spread a layer of straw over the area you want to mulch. You can do this by hand or with a machine. Be sure to overlap the edges of the straw so that no gaps are left uncovered.
There are a few different ways that you can improve the drainage of your lawn. By following the tips above, you can create a yard that is beautiful and functional. So let’s summarise:
Take a soil drainage test.
Install a french drain to collect water that isn’t dispersing
Use a trench around the perimeter of your property
Elevate your yard so it is level or gradually slopes away so that water can disperse in the correct area.
Core-aerate your lawn to help with airflow and evaporation
Add organic matter like compost or sand
Dethatch your lawn by removing dead grass, roots and other dead matter that may be on the surface of your grass
Use straw to improve drainage and prevent weeds