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How to improve draining in a wet, north facing, clay soil garden?

(18 Posts)
Squirrelfruitandnutkin Tue 07-Mar-17 11:00:42

Our garden is currently like a bog. If you step on the grass it literally squelches like a wet sponge. The garden is sopping wet. It gets like this every year but has become worse since neighbours got artificial grass a couple of years ago.

The soil is clay. Thick sticky clay.

Any ideas on how to improve the drainage?
We were quoted £350 for a French ditch/ drain (?) - a big hole filled with gravel essentially. But I'm not sure that would even work

Anyone managed to deal with a similar problem?

Squeezed Tue 07-Mar-17 11:11:39

We gave up and got artificial grass.

MattBerrysHair Tue 07-Mar-17 11:12:05

Putting a soak-away at the lowest point in the garden may help, also some plastic pipe with holes in under the turf that terminates at a drain. You need more grit in the soil really. Aerating the turf with hollow tines and raking sand into the holes may help but it will take many years of doing so to become really effective.

shovetheholly Tue 07-Mar-17 11:28:32

First question is: do you really need the lawn? I appreciate that some people DO, with children requiring football pitches etc. But if you have older kids, and can get rid of it and work with your conditions, then the answer might be to do so and to create a garden that works with what you have.

If you do need it, the answer will probably be a combination of some kind of drainage system and bloody tonnes of sand, gravel etc.

JT05 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:50:52

Perhaps work with it and turn some into a bog garden, planted with damp loving plants, such as Gunnera. The RHS site has lots of suggestions for clay and damp loving plants.

marjolaine Tue 07-Mar-17 13:02:02

Posting for ideas too as this is exactly my garden - in fact I read the title thinking I posted in my sleep!
DH asked the neighbours if they had any luck and they apparently have tried digging down and filling in areas with gravel etc but that hasn't worked. Our garden is surrounded by leylandii and a massive chestnut tree (too big, really, for the plot size) that I don't know if they're helping the problem or hindering 🤔 I like the idea of pipes leading into a drain. It's all really annoying though!

SloanyAnne Tue 07-Mar-17 13:04:01

My front garden had massive drainage problems. I made large raised beds and gravelled the rest.

NotAPuffin Tue 07-Mar-17 13:17:59

marjolaine, trees would be helping - they drink huge amounts of water.

The front and back gardens of our new house are the same. I'm thinking of doing away with all the lawn out the back; haven't come up with a plan for the front yet though.

NanTheWiser Tue 07-Mar-17 16:41:47

Actually, large trees probably don't help - they will suck the soil dry in the summer, turning it into concrete, but will be dormant in winter (usually our wettest months), leaving the clay sodden. ( For marjolaine... )

Squirrelfruitandnutkin Tue 07-Mar-17 17:15:30

We like the lawn (dcs are 5&7). And I hate artificial grass. So we need to work with it.

A purposeful bog garden sounds like a recipe for midges in the summer though. 😬 Although ds would be in his element with mud and potentially all sorts of creatures

The garden bloke we spoke to said putting in a drainage system would be even more expensive and in his opinion less likely to work than the massive gravel filled hole.

I really don't want to spend £££ on a hole in the ground.

MontePulciana Tue 07-Mar-17 17:30:51

My dad physically dug down and got rid of as much of the clay as he could. His lawn is lovely. We laid ours last year and it is also a soggy mess right now. Our neighbours is lush though. Starting to regret a rear lawn (north) too since we got a dog not long ago as well.

Lostpangolin Tue 07-Mar-17 17:43:38

A French drain is used to interrupt the flow of water across a slope usually. If there is no positive outfall the water will lie in the trench. A soakaway is a large hole filled with stones. I've installed both and don't rate either particularly highly. Without taking the water off site, which is difficult and expensive, there isn't much you can do. Long term, incorporating organic matter into the clay may improve drainage, but will take years.

SloanyAnne Thu 09-Mar-17 07:56:52

My neighbour had porous pipes laid under his lawn. They drain away but I can't remember what they drain into. Anyway, they cost a fortune for his large lawn but he can use his lawn in winter whereas ours is a quagmire. Nan is right about trees in our case too.
What has helped us in our back garden but only slightly and temporarily is having Green Thumb areate the lawn by taking plugs out of it. It's got a name but I can't remember it at the moment.
That 1 winter the lawn was less wet rather than dry.

shovetheholly Thu 09-Mar-17 08:40:39

Bog gardens don't have to have standing water- just wet soil.

shovetheholly Thu 09-Mar-17 08:41:53

Oops, posted too soon. If you don't have problems with midges now, I can't see how planting with things that suit your wet, heavy soil would encourage them any more than grass??

SloanyAnne Thu 09-Mar-17 09:27:23

I suppose where you live might be a factor for midges but l have no problem with them in my bog garden. I suppose if you want to keep the lawn for the DCs though, it's going to be costly drains.

Squirrelfruitandnutkin Thu 09-Mar-17 13:08:30

Oooh! Sloane - green thumb do our lawn too - I'll ring them about the holes - aeration I think? confused

We do get the odd cluster of midges - we live near canals so guess they hang out there mostly? I don't want to give the little buggers any more scope for biting me!

Looks like £££ for properly sorting the drainage. Which is probably never going to be a priority- as dh says there are a lot more fun ways to spend that sort of money.

Lostpangolin Thu 09-Mar-17 13:29:25

Aeration removing plugs is called hollow tine or hollow core aeration. Useful to unseal a capped surface or to effect a physical change in soil type, if you add a free draining bulky top dressing afterwards. If your soil is clay to depth the relief will be minimal and temporary.

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