Yard turns into a swamp when it rains


ghosthunterjim

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I am having an issue with my backyard flooding (retaining water when it rains) and was wondering if anyone can tell me how to fix it. My mom, sister and I live in the 'burbs of Northern Virginia on a quarter of an acre. Years ago, after my mom and dad had a made several additions to the home, they ended up with a bunch of left over sand. Now, this was before the age of the Internet. :confused: So, going with what seemed logical at the time they decided to re-purpose it by spreading it all over the back yard, mixed it into the soil, then put new sod over it. Since then, whenever it rains, the yard fills up about 4" or so (guessing) and comes up about halfway into the yard. My first thought was that adding more soil, but I thought I would ask here.
 
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JBtheExplorer

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I have an area about 40 ft. by 40 ft. in my yard that collects water during heavy rains and the spring thaw. It usually stays dry in summer, but floods multiple times in spring and occasionally summer/fall.

I did this to it:

IMG_4824 copy1.jpg



I chose to embrace the wet area and plant native species that can handle short periods of standing water. It ended up making the area look nice and helps native wildlife, too. That may not be what you have in mind for your area, but I would definitely recommend it. If not, maybe others will have different solutions for you.
 
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My guess would be that by slightly raising your elevation, you have blocked the waters drainage flow and it is now pooling whereas previously it would drain of your lawn. Adding more so will likely make it worse, if not for your sake, then for someone else. There is another similar thread on here and some very knowledgeable folks. Some pictures of the problem areas and overall property will probably help. You might look into getting someone to evaluate it locally.
 

ghosthunterjim

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I have an area about 40 ft. by 40 ft. in my yard that collects water during heavy rains and the spring thaw. It usually stays dry in summer, but floods multiple times in spring and occasionally summer/fall.

I chose to embrace the wet area and plant native species that can handle short periods of standing water. It ended up making the area look nice and helps native wildlife, too. That may not be what you have in mind for your area, but I would definitely recommend it. If not, maybe others will have different solutions for you.
Thank you for your suggestion. Living in a residential suburban area where there is a house every 20-30 feet on both sides of the block, we don't have too much "wild life" except for birds and the occasional squirrels. Mom already has quite a few flower beds, bushes and a few Maple trees.
 

ghosthunterjim

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My guess would be that by slightly raising your elevation, you have blocked the waters drainage flow and it is now pooling whereas previously it would drain of your lawn. Adding more so will likely make it worse, if not for your sake, then for someone else. There is another similar thread on here and some very knowledgeable folks. Some pictures of the problem areas and overall property will probably help. You might look into getting someone to evaluate it locally.
Good suggestion. Thank you. Yes, you are correct. The water is pooling. We have a neighbor that does not believe in cleaning up his/her back yard. Rarely do we see or hear them mowing the yard. Additionally, they have a lot of debris back there too. My yard and the neighbor to the left, both have a concrete drainage "ditch" which the county put in. Our neighbor refuses to clean their section of the drain and since the rain water "drains" in that direction, it causes it to back up into my yard. When most of the water does recede, the yard still remains "water logged". All of this creates a hot bed for mosquitoes and makes further work in the yard unbearable, not to mention a potential life threatening experience. You (figuratively speaking) best not be wearing shorts. Within 5 minutes of walking into the back yard, I've had a dozen mosquitoes land on my legs.
 

ghosthunterjim

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I have a few areas around my property that do also. I just go with the flow, it all works out in the long run.
My family and I have been doing that for a long time. At some point it just gets old and makes working in the yard difficult. It also prevents us from enjoying our home and yard, such as having a cookout on the grill, etc. We used to have a 18' x 20' Kayak pool back there, but the water retention made it a disaster and a hot bed for mosquitoes. It's all very depressing too.
 
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What sort of soil do you have? If it was mostly clay before your parents tilled in sand then that could be the problem. Sand+clay=concrete from what I've been reading, even though I guess it was recommended in the past. So I might suggest adding organic material, tilling it in and adding a thick layer on top.

Our lawn floods too, due to a combination of factors but i think the main one is heavy compacted clay soil. What we did in the back was till in some organic material probably less than a foot deep and then spread woodchips on top. This year it has been much better, but the area was small enough that it wasn't too much work.

Additionally you can add a French drain or something similar. Or add water loving plants where you think the run off is coming from.

You have lots of options and lots of hard work ahead if you.
 
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