How to Correct Poor Drainage in a Lawn

Written by tanya khan
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How to Correct Poor Drainage in a Lawn
Improve soil drainage to prevent water from pooling on your lawn. (Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

When nurturing lawn grass in the hopes of it turning lush, green and healthy, nothing is more nerve wracking than finding puddles of water throughout the area due to poor drainage. Every variety of grass requires good soil drainage; otherwise it slowly turns brown and dies. Waterlogged soils increase susceptibility of grass plants to root rot and other fungal diseases. While loam and sandy soils do not generally have a problem with drainage, clay soils are notorious for giving gardeners constant headaches. There are several techniques to tackle poor drainage.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Manual aerator
  • Rototiller
  • Grass clippings, gypsum, wood chips or manure
  • Topsoil
  • Garden hose
  • Shovel
  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Stone
  • 4-inch-wide perforated pipe
  • Fabric
  • Gravel

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  1. 1

    Aerate the soil to remove cores of soil, allowing air to penetrate through. The molecules of compacted soil are close to one another, making it difficult for water to pass through. By removing parts of the soil, you provide an inlet for moisture and air to pass through the soil and improve drainage.

  2. 2

    Rototill the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to improve its composition, so it drains better. Soil, a mixture of mostly sand and clay, does not drain well if the clay content is too high. Add 3 to 4 inches of organic compost such as grass clippings, gypsum, wood chips, straw or manure and mix well.

  3. 3

    Improve any low spots or depressions in your lawn that cause water to pool, signalling poor drainage. Such areas also indicate the presence of excess clay in the soil. Improve the soil's composition by adding organic compost to the low spot, and fill it with quality topsoil until it is level with the surrounding soil. Tamp it down and moisten lightly so it settles in place.

  4. 4

    Build dry wells over spots in your lawn that drain poorly. To create a dry well, dig a large hole in the area where the water pools and fill it with pieces of brick, concrete and stone. The water sinks into the well and then slowly absorbs into the surrounding soil.

  5. 5

    Install a French drain in your lawn to serve as a permanent solution to drainage problems. The drain directs the flow of water from one part of the lawn to another. Starting at the point where the water collects in your lawn, dig a trench 6 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep, ending in the area where you want to release the flow of water. Slope the trench slightly away from the area where water pools. Line the trench with 2 inches of gravel and lay a 4-inch-wide perforated pipe over it. Cover the pipe with fabric to prevent soil from clogging the holes, and cover it with a thin layer of gravel. Cover the trench with soil.

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