Soil Preparation: What I Learned the Hard Way

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Water-Logging And Your Yard

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If your back yard is full of puddles and your soil has turned into a soft mud, it's likely you've fallen victim to water-logging. Water-logging occurs when too much water enters your sod, rendering it structurally useless and a hazard to your plants. The main problem with water-logging is that many people don't recognize the problem before it's too late, so below are some common questions you might have to keep you on the right track:

How Do You Know If The Sod Is Waterlogged?

Before you start managing the problem, you have to know how to recognize it exists in the first place. Thankfully, waterlogged sod is extremely easy to spot and is preempted by very noticeable signs (such as torrential downpour!). The first thing you'll notice is that the tips of your sod will start turn pale yellow in color. This tells you that the roots of the grass have been suffocated and the plant is retreating in order to avoid dying off. Although sod is an extremely resilient material, it can quickly be drowned if the problem isn't managed. 

Another tell-tale sign of waterlogged sod is a material that squishes underneath your foot. Although this isn't the most objective sign, if the soil does not drain water under your weight then it is likely saturated. If this saturation has been present for any length of time, small pools of water may be present on the surface. 

Why Is Water-logging Bad?

The occasional flood won't destroy your yard; however, sod that has been left to sit in saturated soil for any length of time can quickly die off. The reason for this is that water-logging blocks the air spaces between soil particles, literally drowning your yard's grass. This lack of oxygen means the plant is unable to suck in water and nutrients, which is extremely dangerous for its health. 

How Can You Limit Damage To Waterlogged Sod?

The first, and most important, thing to remember is to stay off your yard. It can be tempting to get the lawnmower out and get in about the damaged sod; however, this will only exacerbate the problem and may damage your yard permanently. The reason for this is that any overburden (pressure) on the soil causes any air still in the sod to squeeze out, effectively speeding up the process of drowning. 

The next thing you need to do is introduce proper drainage into the system. To do this, wait until some of the water held in the sod has either evaporated or been sucked up, and then introduce spikes along the grass with a garden fork. Puncturing your waterlogged sod will allow the roots to breathe more easily and help them to drain away excess water held underneath the topsoil. 

What If The Sod Is Already Permanently Damaged?

If your yard has already become ruined due to water-logging, you won't be able to salvage your yard. Rather,  you should aim to address any existing problems and prepare the area so that the problem doesn't occur again.

The best way to stop water-logging occurring is to introduce proper drainage into your yard. There are a number of different drainage designs available; however, there are three common approaches usually adopted:

Simple Ditches

As the name suggests, this approach simply means introducing ditches into your yard at regular intervals. These ditches should be designed with sloping sides in order to allow excess surface water to easily run off. These ditches can be constructed by hand; however, it's oftentimes better to hire a small trenching machine to ensure your ditches are stable. 

French Drains

If open ditches aren't suitable for your property, you should consider building french drains. French drains are easily constructed by packing open ditches full of coarse gravel. This gravel is then finished off with a layer of permeable turf that keeps soil from infiltrating the gravel. To take the bad look away from the gravel layer, you can finish the ditch with artificial turf or topsoil. 

Piped Drainage

If your sod suffers from severe drainage problems, then your only option may be to introduce piped drainage. This involves introducing perforated plastic piping into trenches in your yard, which help to transport excess surface water from your sod. This is an extremely difficult process, and as such should only be carried out by landscapers who have experience in this area.