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portion where nothing grows

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:27 am
by raza
hello! i will describe situation accurately but minimum words

1. small front yard about 25 ft x 20 ft

2. within this in area about 12ft x 8ft always remains wet and nothing grows even not rye grass
3. i have tried digging, using compost, top soil, nothing works
4. finally want to try drainage
5 the length of drainage from the center of this wet area to the street woud be about 12 ft
6. could you please tell me in simple steps how i could make things grow here

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:59 am
by Bobberman
Have you used weed killer on your grass ever!

soggy area

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:14 am
by raza
thank you this phenomena has been there for a long time over five years

about two months ago i applied a herbicide all over the yard this herbicide says will kill weeds not grass since then i have beautiful rye grass all over except for this soggy area i am talking about


Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:19 am
by tomf
From the sound of it you will want to put in a french drain. A french drain is a pipe burried in the ground with holes in it to let the water in, the pipe should be covered with a special cover to keep the dirt out of it, and then be surrounded by gravel. It should be about 6 inches or so deep. You will need to run it down hill to a spot where the water can drain out, or build a dry well. You can get the pipe and covering at your local hardware store, it is not that expensive, the digging and bringing in gravel is the hardest part.

soggy ground

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:06 am
by raza
this is the first clean response thank you but kindly stay

1. the 12 ft path will lead first within the yard and then through the sidewalk and exiting flush with the side kerb of the street i will check with permitting on this also we are in Houston TX

2. the pipe will start from the center of this soggy area what will let all the accumulated water in that 12 x 10 approx. portion get into the pipe so that it can then go out

3. once done do i cover up the dug portion can i plant rye seeds over it

4. the different items you mentioned is there a particular store you have in mind home depot sometimes do not know what they have in ther lawn/garden section

as i see it finally the gravel will be covering the pipe 360 degrees?

best regards

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:17 am
by Dillbert
unable to follow the meaning of a clean answer, but a couple really simple facts about gravity:

water seeks its own level
water flows downhill
water never flows uphill

>small front yard about 25 ft x 20 ft
>about 12ft x 8ft always remains wet

if you are in fact in Houston, Texas, the sun and the heat will bake any kind of soil to a crisp.
about the only remaining answer is the wet area is sunken, and somehow it continues to collect water - perhaps by over-irrigating the other parts of the 25x20 area.

fill in the hole; let the water drain away by gravity.

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:32 am
by rainbowgardener
OR there is some source of water you aren't aware of -- a buried pipe that leaks for example or runoff from a downspout.

OR for some reason the soil there is excessively moisture holding. Only reason I can think of would be something like a buried log or roots of a big old tree rotting away under ground.

The french drain should work as last resort, but once again I think you need to figure out WHY that area stays so wet.

Especially in TX there should be no reason you need the french drain, if you correct whatever is causing the problem. An underground plumbing pipe leaking seems like the most likely in the circumstances, but certainly could be other things.

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:06 pm
by Bobberman
Why don't you send a soil sample in to get tested!

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:26 pm
by rainbowgardener
I doubt soil test would tell him anything about why the soil there is staying so wet, when the rest of the yard isn't. Just needs to play detective, dig around and see what is happening and what is different between that spot and the rest of the yard.

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:39 pm
by Bobberman
The test is to tell what is in the soil that kills everything! has nothing to do with it being wet!

lawn area soggy

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:58 pm
by raza
for both greener thumb and supergreen thumb

clean was a compliment for specific simple information i apprecaite both yours interest although I am sure other things can be more enjoyable

yes i understand water find its oen level and evertime i have waterd less or more this is where the water sits all the rest disappears pretty soon

but there is not a hole per se this area was lower so i have more than once filled with topping soil now it is fairly level with the rest not perfect but small quantities of water still stay there for at least six hours

i have dug over there several times and gone about 10 inckes at least have found that soil to be very clayey and hard but have not struck a pipe or a tree trunk

shoud i do this select a core say 3 ft x 3 ft area right in the center of this patch and dig say 4 ft by then i shoud strike either a broken piece of plumbing or wood decide on next step after that exercise

by the way about a week ago I did find that the side seam of a rainbird sprinkler cylindrical piece was leaking quite a lot and in the vicinity of this patch how long it may have been so, i do not know because this water logging problem has been there for over four years

i repaired the leak you might be asking have yiu noticed anything different since you repaired the sprinkler i have to say that the sogginess is not the florida marsh it used to be, but it still is very soggy


nothing grows

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:13 pm
by raza
this morning i excavated the entire wet area upto a depth of 10 inches found very clayey soil very hard also chunks of soil rocks of soil at many places the clay was so hard that when you struck it, it sounded like stone

on reaching 10 inches it seemed there was more of that, but we stopped

could you advise me is this enough depth for me to fill back with new topping soil before topping soil shoud i put something else is there a need to put some kind of a pipe as a drain for this area other than that, when it is filled and leveled, i plan to plant rye seeds again and see if we got the problem

as a very first item woud it help to spray herbicide on the bed

please tell me thank you

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:28 pm
by Bobberman
If the water is causing the problm herbicide will do nothing maybe make it worse. I would take a sample of the wet soil and have it tested to see what is in the water. the new soil will just get wet since there is something drainng into that area!

Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:59 am
by Dillbert
raza -

I've been following your descriptions - a couple thoughts:

digging down 10" is more than sufficient.

the water is coming from somewhere - a leaking sprinkler pipe is certainly suspect - you may not have found all the leaks yet....

if the soil was not mud at the bottom of the 10" hole, then obviously the water is not coming "up" from below - which would indicate perhaps a leak in the water supply coming to the house, for example.

is the entire area the hard clay?
is there any "good dirt on top" in the areas where the grass does grow?

it is quite normal for "fill dirt" to settle and compact - depending on depth - it can settle quite a bit. if it stays wet, it's going to compact even more.

the other 'problem' with a heavy clay soil is it can "make a swimming pool" - the surrounding clay basically prevents water in the low area from draining away. but that still does not explain how so much water is getting there in the first place.

without knowing the "history" of the house construction / landscaping / etc we're guessing totally in the blind.

as to "solutions"

filling hole within a hard clay area with good top soil can make for a swimming pool -
you mention draining it to the street... how much difference in height are you working with?
there are several "options" for "draining" the area - they all involve gravity, but if the whole area is essentially "flat" that will require a different solution.

frankly, finding the source / reason this area is being constantly saturated with water, is likely 95% of the solution.

soggy lawn

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:22 am
by raza
green thumb thank you for your patience and help!

1. there is no water now in the cube that i have dug if it is the one leakage sprinkler that i repaired, but no water now amazing, i hope!

2. should i start filling back please let me know with what and to what depths

3. yes this whole front yard seems to be on clayey soil the rye grass that exists on the remaining portion is because that soil is not as terrible as the smaller partch because the smaller patch appears to have been used as a partial scrap yard during construction the rye grass in the remaining yard is not like a green carpet, but it is quite more presentable than what this patch was

based on this information i am also not thinking of an additional drain

what say you, mr. Gillbert?

and many thanks for your support


Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:50 am
by tomf
I was in Texas a few times and most of it is very dry, so the broken pipe may have been it. Who far was the pipe from the area? I would have thought you would have seen your water bill go way up. You could fill it in and see what happens, if you need to do a drain then do it.

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:26 am
by Dillbert
I would be tempted to do nothing for a couple weeks - basically to ensure the area will dry up.
in other words, the sprinkler leak you found and repaired was in fact the cause of the wet soggy conditions.

>>a partial scrap yard
sigh. common practice was to dig a big hole, dump in all the construction debris, put dirt over it.
well, the construction debris - mostly wood - rots away and yes that will result in the ground settling. sometime in the early 1980's the Federal EPA reclassified this practice as creating an illegal landfill. regrets, not every contractor/builder follows all the rules.

buried construction debris can take 10-15 years to fully collapse. when was the house built?

if I understand correctly, the leak that you found/fixed, it was on a leg of an individual sprinkler head. this means it would only be pressurized / leak when the sprinkler was operating. not knowing what your watering schedule is, I question whether that leak could saturate a 12 x 8 area to soggy/squishy in the 20 minutes +/- the sprinkler was pressurized. it's certainly possible, but it raises the question of whether all the leaks have been found.

which leads me to the "see if it dries up" waiting period - as obviously anything you do may have to be re-done should the area not dry up....

of course, if you're planning a wedding on the front yard next week, the option to "do nothing" may not fit the schedule.....

some sprinkler systems are installed with a house water supply pipe to a "box" in the yard - the box has the electrically operated valve controlled by the timer. this is most common for systems with multiple zones - a 25x20 front yard is likely only one zone. the water pipe from the house to the box is pressured all the time and if damaged will leak 24x7. there are other designs where the solenoid valves are above ground.

the fact that your ten inch hole is not collecting water is a good thing (presuming the system is energized / in operation.)

as for filling up the area - around here we get three "types" of dirt -
fill dirt - stones / rocks / whatever
screened top soil - basically dirt that has large chunks of non-dirt sifted out
(alternative: limed & screened - probably not common in your area)
"garden soil" - screened & limed top soil mixed 50-50 with compost.

for a grass area I'd go with the topsoil option. the "garden soil" will settle much more than "pure dirt" as the organic matter rots away.

if you have an area to "store" extra dirt, order more than you need as you'll like have to 'refill' the area after it settles.

soggy portion in yard

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:19 am
by raza
think the area has dried up it is the driest i have seen it is not like the sahara but there is minimal water i am thinking i should go ahead it has now been like this about 5 to 6 days

no all the leaks may still not have been found but i have done my best

filling up please correct my understanding of this fill the whole dug up area with screened top soil ok, what is this can i use scotts topping soil if not could you please give me the correct name/brand of the correct material

want to thank you again

Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:21 am
by Dillbert
if the area is no longer "soggy" as before, yes - it appears the culprit "leak" has been found / fixed.

there's no "magic" to establishing a lawn - "grass" has no inordinate fertility demands that warrants "special" dirt.

to fill and regrade the area I would use plain old screen topsoil - bought & delivered by "the cubic yard" - stuff in bags is going to be a lot more expensive.

a "cubic yard" of dirt is a chunk 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft (27 cubic feet) - it is typically a slightly inexact measurement as suppliers have a front end loader with a bucket of "known" cubic capacity and they just scoop & 'wing it' to fill the delivery truck.

a cubic yard of dirt will "fill" a 12 x 8 "sunken" area - 96 sq ft - to a depth of just under 3.5 inches. typically a "sunken area does not have "square right angle corners" - it's a bit more of a curved sunken area - so you'll get more fill height because the "edges" are thinner.

you can stretch a string across the sunken area and find the "deepest" point - figure you need about 1/3 of the deepest volume - allowing for taper.

the issue I see with "bagged" product is simply: it contains a lot of organic matter - bark mulch (whatever) plus sand. you spread it on, the organic matter decays and its volume decreases significantly. an aside, it costs a lot more.

with limited facts it is hard to provide better numbers / advice - but hopefully this will get you going in the right direction.