October 22, 2020

Clay soil is common in this area. It is dense and compact and can present some unique challenges in your yard. Rather than fighting the nature of clay soil, it is better to find a way to work around, or even with, the soil to solve your drainage issues. A drainage contractor who understands clay soil can be a big help.

Dry river bed drainage solution in landscape.

The Challenge of Clay Soil

Soil is usually composed of sand, silt, and clay. Sand has large particles, which do not absorb water. Silt has medium particles and will absorb, but not retain water. Finally, heavy clay soil is made up of very fine particles that are densely packed. Clay soil is full of nutrients, but there are complications. Clay soil forms tight layers that won’t allow drainage. This means that, after precipitation, drainage issues will most likely present themselves.

Many building contractors will use heavy machinery that will compact the soil and break down the soil structure, destroying the air pockets that allow for drainage. Builders usually only dump a layer of topsoil, which can create more problems.

Solving Your Drainage Issues

There are several potential solutions to your drainage issues. The different areas of your yard where you are having drainage issues will make a difference in which solution you may want to employ. When it comes to solving drainage issues, a drainage contractor may suggest one of these solutions.

  •  Amend the Soil

If heavy clay is trapping the water on the surface, but the soil isn’t entirely heavy clay, adding compost and other organic matter can help change the composition of the soil over time. Adding a few inches of peat, compost, or manure, with the help of earthworms, can help, although it can take several years and will need to be repeated over time. If the soil is entirely clay with little sand or silt, this probably won’t make a big enough difference, and the effort and time involved in going this route isn’t really worth all the trouble.

  • Area Drains

An area drain may also be known as a catch basin or storm drain. It will collect the runoff water and drain it to a lower spot. Area drains work well in areas with hardscaping, or in garden areas.

  • Dry Riverbed

A dry riverbed is typically a shallow trench lined with stone that will collect and disperse extra water to a lower and better area for drainage. Dry riverbeds can be an attractive solution to drainage issues since their natural elements and textures can be easily incorporated into your landscape design.

  • Channel Drains

A channel drain can be installed along a pavement area, such as a driveway or patio. Channel drains can be installed as design elements, so the solution works to enhance the look of your yard and gets rid of the standing water.

How a Drainage Contractor Can Help

When you are trying to solve drainage issues related to heavy, clay soil, you need someone with experience to help you. Many of these solutions are not easy to do yourself and really shouldn’t be attempted by someone without experience working with clay soil and drainage solutions. In addition, working on your own, or with a contractor inexperienced in heavy clay soil, you may spend time and money experimenting with solutions that may or may not make a difference. An expert can look at the soil in your yard, the location of the issues, and find the right solution with much less trial and error. Once you have started working with a drainage contractor, you will have someone who understands your property and can help troubleshoot any other situations that may arise.

Clay soil can be a mixed blessing. The nutrients in this dense soil can help your landscaping thrive if you work with a drainage contractor to address the issues with standing water. Twin Oaks Landscape drainage experts have many years of experience dealing with the clay soil that is common in and around Ann Arbor. If you’re having trouble with drainage on your property, it may be due in part to the clay soil in your yard. Contact us today to discuss solution options for your clay soil drainage. You don’t have to learn to live with a soggy yard, and we can help.