March 22, 2021

Landscape automatic garden watering system with different sprinklers installed under turf. Landscape design with lawn hills and fruit garden irrigated with smart autonomous sprayers at sunset.

What is Clay Soil?

If you are in the Ann Arbor area, chances are you have clay soil. All soil is a mix of clay, sand, and silt. Sandy soil has large particles that do not absorb water well. Silt has medium sized particles that absorb water well, but do not retain it for long periods of time. Clay soil is made up of densely packed fine particles.

Why is Clay Soil a Problem for Homeowners?

Clay soil is usually so dense that it will become waterlogged and not allow for adequate draining. Clay soils can also have heavy rock content, making them difficult to work with. Because heavy clay soil holds onto water for so long, it can leave your yard, gardens, and other landscaping features with standing water. If you have clay soil, you are most likely facing drainage issues on your property. Most builders add to the problem of clay soil. The machinery used during construction breaks down the air pockets and makes the soil more dense. After the building is finished, they will add a layer of topsoil, but the compacted soil underneath will become a barrier to water and can cause standing water and drainage issues. Standing water, depending on the location, can cause plenty of problems. Water standing near the foundation of the house can cause mold, mildew, and even structural damage to your home. Water standing away from the house is a breeding ground for fungus and insects. Finding a solution to clay soil complications is possible.

Finding Solutions for Drainage Issues

Some landscaping contractors may tell you that amending the soil is possible, but often this is not a very practical solution. Adding compost and organic matter can make a difference, but this solution will take many years of dedicated work and monitoring. Even with years of attention to the soil content, areas with very heavy clay soil may not see enough improvement, and the time and effort spent would have been much better used in finding drainage solutions that will work with, or around, the existing soil.

  •   Catch Basin

A catch basin may also be called an area drain or storm drain. The purpose is to collect runoff water and divert it to a low spot or water collection system. Catch drains are perfect in garden areas or near hardscape areas. These catch basin drain systems won’t be able to handle large areas of standing water, but can improve garden areas and specific areas of the yard where drainage is an obvious problem.

  •   Soakaway

A soakaway will collect water when draining to another area isn’t possible. The water the soakaway collects will drain into the soil below the layer of hard clay. A soakaway can be left open, filled with small stone or river rock, or filled with rock and then covered with a layer of sod or soil. A soakaway is best installed away from the house, but it may only last a few years.

  •   Channel Drain

A channel drain is often the perfect option to run alongside a driveway, patio, or side of the house. A channel drain will be U shaped with a grate over the top to prevent clogging. A channel drain will divert all the water away from the property to a lower lying area. Channel drains are popular because they can be worked into the landscaping design.

Finding the Right Drainage Contractor

To find the right drainage solution for a yard with heavy clay soil, you need to find a drainage contractor who is experienced in dealing with clay soil. Although some landscaping contractors may offer to help, if they do not have experience with heavy clay content, the solutions may not be as effective as they could be. It’s important to find a drainage contractor who is local, understands soil, and has a plan to work with your property.

Heavy clay soil doesn’t need to be a lifelong headache. With the right landscaping and drainage contractor, you can find a solution. Avoid the headaches of standing water in your yard once and for all by solving your drainage issues the right way. Keep your lawn and landscaping beautiful with the help of Twin Oaks Landscape. Contact us today.