New build garden - draining advice before laying turf

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by Dom L, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. Dom L

    Dom L Apprentice Gardener

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    Firstly, many thanks in advance for any advice offered as a completely new member of this community. So to my problem…

    I moved into a new build in (wet) Manchester in November. The garden hasn’t been turfed but the drainage appears to be poor. A few neighbours who turfed their gardens earlier are complaining of very boggy gardens...

    From the photos just wondering if anyone can recommend a solution? Does it look something that can be fixed by digging in organic matter and perhaps replacing 100-200MM of clay with a decent layer of top soil? Or is some proper drainage needed? Stupid question but I assume what I am dealing with is heavy clay that's cleary been compacted?

    I am pressing the developer to fix but they are notorious for refusing to accept any liability for fixing garden drainage issues unless its a really big problem as there are no building regs to adhere to.

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    Thanks
    Dom
     
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    • DianneW

      DianneW Head Gardener

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      I can only tell you about our previous property in Bexhill on Sea. The property was on a steep incline and ours was in a slight dip to the farm nest door and the neighbour to our left and the end of our garden was lower than the end neighbour..So we collected a lot of water and was like a river running down the garden in average rain full say a days worth would do that..We had one working Well, the depth was about 6 metre, a metre away from the back wall and that had a concrete runaway to the side if ever the Well overfilled...never did...
      So being on the steep hill it then hit our driveway and another gate entry then went across the unmade lane onto the wooded area opposite..also a natural pond was to one side.We had soakaways and the rainwater never went into the main drainage...I worked the land in the farmside by our boundary and dug out and lowered the land. I dug a deep channel like a long trench and the water coming from the farmland in the main ran down towards it now instead of breaking into our garden and down our path....the other side of the farm boundary was a wild bank..I turned it into a waterfall that then run across the lane into the natural pond...
      The soil we had was claypot soil and it was compacted in parts but we built two wildlife ponds and in between we made a stream..it all helped and I think with yours it has nowhere to go so sits and just is going to be bogland..The garden to me needs some expert to deal with it..Surely there are guarantees when you buy a new build...Not something I know actually...
      We ended up putting our down pipes away from the soakaways and into the Mains...cost only about an extra £5.00 a year at the time but it also stopped a lot of the running water...
       
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      • Dom L

        Dom L Apprentice Gardener

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        Thanks. Yes land drains are an option but obviously not the cheapest option and its only a very small garden so don't really wan to go down that route unless I have to.

        The building regs concerning gardens are effectively none existent as long as there is no pooling of water within 3m of the property the builders can sit fairly smug.
         
      • DianneW

        DianneW Head Gardener

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        When I think back my daughter lived on the downwood side aboujt 5 mins walk from ours and although I never saw any flooding around her place..70/80's build...Insuance wise it was called a flood plane area. Within a few metres though there was flooding..this is around and area called Pebsham in Bexhill. before we left there...the long term plans were to build 1200 houses nearby and as soon as were told we put the place up for sale..We had already suffered a lot of changes in the area. The wooded area opposite was privately owned and the owner after 10 years of trying gained planning for 4 houses with a condition that he would pay for the unmade lane to be converted to a 'proper road' corners were cut the drainage was incorrect but ended up installing a all singing and dancing waterways..the houses were built on a piling system because the land was the 'soakaways' at that end of the cycle...was happy there for many a year but..most people agreed it was no longer like living in the countryside..We chose very carefully when we made this move...
         
      • Perki

        Perki Total Gardener

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        It ridiculous really how they can leave it like that even the top soil doesn't look like top soil. Is it wet in summer ? You could try digging in more organic matter and grit / sharp sand . The soil will be compacted due to the builders tramping it so it will help turning it over and adding grit / sand.

        What's the grate for in the middle ? pipe water into it ?

        You could try borer some hole in the lawn using a post hole borer and filling the hole with limestone chips to act like a soak away .

        The forecast next week is heavy rain especially for the northwest and wales , have a look then if it swimming with water you'll probably have to do more with land drainage.
         
      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        I'm looking at the second picture and your garden level looks lower than the road and your path.

        I'm just wondering if the water is all coming off the hard surfaces, when it rains, and your garden is acting as a sump.

        How hard is it to dig, is it solid clay, builders rubble, and what is the subsoil.

        I'm just thinking if it was dug deeply all over, then a couple of ton of topsoil added to bring it up level or slightly above the path before turfing it might just be ok.
         
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        • DianneW

          DianneW Head Gardener

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          But add what you like it is never going to drain if the ground is to be soaked and soakeded and nowhere to run off...Stone will help but do you want a stoneyard..Our place was called Pebbles nice name but pebbles were everywhere...down the side was pebbles packed against the boundary fence to the farmlands. Where we stored our caravan at the start of the plot...this photo is after the road build....the driveway is now less sloped than before the new road...the lamppost was planned to be placed on the right of the caravan front..then we could not actually drive the caravan away...and they called the police when we said..that is not going to happen...so they agreed to move it...and they did...but you can see no drainage was ever put in place on our land..after flooding occurred in the new builds they created stepping stones across the lane like a guide for the water....seeing is believing...amazing the local councils think tank...f1f0dbbc8bb4e6ce0f2e08ed0f480299ce70faff.jpg
           
        • Dom L

          Dom L Apprentice Gardener

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          Only moved in November this year so not sure how it will fair up in the summer.

          The photos were taken after some pretty torrential rain over several days so i think the photos represent the worst it can be if that makes sense. The grate is just an inspection cover - ridiculous building regulations means it was the only place it could go!

          I will report back over this week to see if the pooling of water is any worse. Hoping as you suggest digging out, adding sharp sand and then a decent layer of topsoil might do the trick...
           
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          • Dom L

            Dom L Apprentice Gardener

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            Water run off might be part of the problem but the water seems to form on top off the service quite quickly even where there is no visible run off. That particular photo was taken after an absolute deluge.

            Not sure on the subsoil so will have a dig this week when i get chance - the soil/clay is fairy easy is to dig (only tried when its wet as moved in during November and its not been dry since).

            I was thinking along the same lines...dig out say 100/200mm, work in some sharp sand and then cover with 100-200mm of decent top soil.
             
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            • Snorky85

              Snorky85 Total Gardener

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              Hi Dom, I feel for you. Our old garden literally turned into a pond (with ducks!) in heavy rain and we had to pump it out into a drain.

              Our current garden has a flood patch at the back and we really could do with putting in some land drain. I'ddefinitely recommend putting some draining channels in and directing the water into that man hole (I assume it is a drainage hole). It might seem like a hassle but if you get that done now before you establish your nice garden then you won't have future problems and you'll be pleased you got it done. Then do as @pete suggests by improving the existing soil/drainage and raising the height.

              Oh, you could also create a little pond? I did that and it has helped the draining in the back of the garden a little bit.
               
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              • ric1982

                ric1982 Apprentice Gardener

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              • noisette47

                noisette47 Total Gardener

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                Hello Dom (and ric), I feel for you both. Even on a slope, compacted clay soil is a problem. Ask me how I know :biggrin: After 13 years here, I've finally had to bite the bullet and install land drains. Messing about with adding organic material/grit doesn't solve the problem, especially now the climate is becoming more extreme in terms of torrential rain!
                The classic advice was to arrange a herring-bone pattern of perforated pipes or just trenches filled with rubble, gravel, then sand, then topped with topsoil.
                Here are a couple of links which might help....Drainage: installing
                Everything you need to know about land drains | Drainage Superstore Help & Advice
                If you're serious about making a lawn/garden, far, far better to do this now, with a blank canvas, than to realise, belatedly as I did, that it's the only real solution :)
                 
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                • ric1982

                  ric1982 Apprentice Gardener

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                  Thanks noisette47. I am more and more inclined to what you suggested. Where would water from those pipes would dispose into?

                  Do I need Building Regs for soakaway - trench drain?
                   
                • Loofah

                  Loofah Well used member

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                  Dig some experimental holes, quite deep. The ground will likely be compacted from all the building work and you might also have a load of builders waste under the surface. You can easily alleviate the compaction through digging but going at least a spit down (spade blade length)
                   
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