A yard that’s always wet and muddy is a sign of poor drainage. Waterlogging soil can make the problem even worse because water will always stand in one place in the yard, causing a wet and muddy yard. Some solutions to this can be temporary while others are permanent. So, how can you fix and dry up a soggy yard?
The best way to fix a muddy yard is to construct French drains and fix your drainage system. Ensure your downspouts also dump rainwater where it can be driven away instead of stagnating. For a quick temporary fix, apply pine flakes and sand to dry up the wet yard.
A muddy yard has many disadvantages one of which being that it weakens your grass. Too much water in the soil suffocates the roots of your grass making it prone to diseases such as fungus. Besides that, too much water in the yard isn’t pleasant to look at. It can also lead to a flooded home especially when the house is on the lower side of the yard.
Why is my yard always wet and muddy?
If your yard is always wet and soggy, it is time to look at the landscaping, soil type, soil condition, drainage, and if there are dogs doing the damage.
Here’s why your yard is muddy or wet and soggy all the time:
1. Poor drainage
The most common reason for a soggy lawn is poor drainage. If water from irrigation or downspouts runs onto the lawn and sits still, you probably have a drainage problem that needs to be fixed. Check if the downspouts lead water into the drainage ditch or other designated low-lying area.
If water is collecting on one area of your yard, it’s because the lawn slopes towards that place or is level in the middle. Proper landscaping and lawn leveling can be a great permanent fix to a soggy yard.
2. Dog trails
Dogs don’t follow designated paths in the home. Rather, they take the shortest route from one point to the next.
Dogs form trails that can often be from muddy areas to the grass or from wet areas that create mud when their feet mix the wetness with the soil. A muddy yard created by dog trails isn’t so mucky and poses a smaller issue than flooding for example.
3. Rising water levels
If you live near a major water body such as a lake, river, or even sea and you notice the ground becoming wetter with time, chances are high that the water levels in that area could be rising and causing a soggy lawn that’s really hard to dry up.
However, you’ll need to first rule out the possibility that the wetness is not caused by soil compaction, poor drainage, or other reason.
4. Poor ground elevation
If the soil is well-aerated yet it still soaks up in water and mud, chances are that it has poor elevation. It could be that there are particular spots on the yard that are lower than the rest of the yard.
Water tends to collect into these lower spots in the backyard. It could also be that the whole yard is curved towards the center, making it hard for water to drain away when in excess.
5. Compacted soil
Compaction or poor aeration refers to the clogging up of the ground such that water doesn’t drain away correctly. This often happens when the upmost layer of soil is sticky and impermeable.
When the water covers every inch of the soil, it further compacts it making it hard for the water to drain away, leaving the yard always soggy and wet always.
How to Fix and Dry Up a Muddy Yard Fast
All of the causes of a muddy yard can be fixed and the process starts with identifying the reason and applying the appropriate DIY or professional solution. While some solutions such as pine flakes are a temporary solution to a muddy yard, others such as installing drains can be a permanent fix.
There are different ways to fix a muddy yard depending on the cause.
1. Build a french drain or trench
If you have a drainage system such as a sewerage system, gutter or other drain close to your yard, dig a trench to it from your yard such that the excess water in your backyard drains to it.
A French drain is lined with landscape fabric then filled partially with gravel. You then cover it with soil and even reseed it. This way, the drain stays underground while grass and other plants grow at the top without any sign of the drain.
To permanently fix a muddy yard, build french drains around the lawn that are about 8 inches to 2 feet to constantly divert and drain away water that would otherwise be stagnant.
An alternative, quicker solution is digging up a trench around the soggy area.
While a trench is the fastest solution here, but it is more of a temporary fix. Use a shovel, gas-powered trencher, or other tool to dig a trench towards the drainage system. It will, however, leave an unsightly drain in the yard.
2. Elevate the yard
If your yard has certain low-laying areas that easily soak up water when it rains or after watering, or it’s wholly low-laying and poorly shaped such that excess water doesn’t drain away as needed, you could have a major issue on your hands as far as flooding goes.
The solution to an elevation problems is leveling the yard.
Fill up the low-lying spots with a mix of soil and fine gravel (or soil alone) to the level of the rest of the yard. If it’s a whole yard, rebuild the whole backyard landscape to prevent water soaking up in particular spots.
In either case, soil is needed with the amount depending on the extent of the work to be done. Both cases may require a replanting grass in the affected areas.
For this solution, make the yard slant slightly to one side instead of being flat to improve drainage. The best choice is to have it slope about ¼ inches per foot (about 2% slope) away from the house or path. Use a spirit level to find the right amount of slope for the yard while landscaping.
READ MORE: How to Fill Holes in Your Lawn
3. Fix the faulty drainage system
Another simple solution is to deal with the source of the water making your yard wet. Downspouts, the parts of the roof gutter pouring water on the ground might be the cause of a soggy yard.
If you have downspout pouring water directly onto the ground, fix them and ensure they are at least 6 feet from the foundation of the house, and into a form of channel that directs the water away from the yard. With the right slope, water from your roof shouldn’t muddy up your yard.
4. Core-aerate the yard
Easily one of the most convenient ways to restore your yard to its natural look and feel, aeration provides the water with a way to seep farther down into the soil instead of puddling up. It does not direct the water away from the yard but instead helps it drain in the soil layers in the ground.
This solution only works if the water is logged in the upper layers of the soil but the lower layers aren’t logged with it.
If you have a small and sizeable yard, aerating is quite easy as you only need to poke holes into the ground either with an lawn aerator or pitchfork. The holes don’t need to be very deep but just about more than half of the pitchfork’s prongs is enough. Larger yards may need more hands or a gas-powered core-aerator.
5. Add organic material to the yard
At times, the top soil is the main issue and won’t allow water to drain away. Clay and other soils similar in properties make it quite hard to drain water away. Amend the clay soil by mixing it up with another less compact material. It loosens the soil making it much easier for the water to drain away.
Some of the materials to use include:
- Peat moss
The problem with this method is that it’ll destroy your yard such that you’ll need to plant new grass (or other plants you have in it). When done, however, you’ll have effectively gotten rid of the drainage issues that cause wetness and mud.
6. Apply pine flakes to cover up the yard
Pine flakes are a quick temporary fix for a muddy yard because they absorb water quickly in wet and soggy areas making the yard dry up quickly. The shavings remain on the soil surface because of their size and are a great natural solution even for muddy dog trails.
To use them, collect enough pine flakes and apply them generously in areas that are wet, soggy, or muddy. Spread the chips evenly and level them up. After about two hours, the pine shavings will have soaked up the moisture and formed a cover on top of the mud in your yard.
Note: This is a temporary fix that will only work if the lawn is wet but not with excessive running water. Constructing drains is a more permanent solution I’d recommend.
7. Cover up with straw
A temporary method to quickly get some work done or create a clear path through a muddy yard is putting bales of straw in the muddy areas. These elevate and cushion the ground long enough to pass through to the other side but will not last for too long.
Hay or straw take quite a while to dry up and will thus need to be used as a temporary solution. They’re also easily blown away by wind and can stick to the bottom of your shoes when wet. They are, however, quite a good option to use as mulch if you need some.
8. Plant better ground cover
To deal with the menace of dogs muddying up your yard, killing your grass with urine and other annoying antics, you can harden up your yard with other plants and materials such as winter creeper, Irish moss, silver carpet and clover.
These are tougher than normal yard grass and will give you a better cover even when you have active dogs around.
9. Dethatch the lawn
With time, old grass dies out and forms a layer between the green visible grass leaves and the ground. This layer of dead grass is called thatch and can make it hard for the ground to absorb water once it reaches a thickness of about ½ inches.
To prevent this, you should dethatch at least once each year. You can use a power rake or a convex rake for the job. This method requires doing a second raking to remove all the debris kicked up by the raking. Using a lawn aerator which will dig holes in the ground for better aeration is also recommended.
10. Set up a rain garden
At times, the solution to a muddy garden is embracing the water and setting up rain garden. This is a garden which, instead of dry land, is made up of plants growing in a pool of water. We advocate for this kind of garden only when your yard can’t support grass due to being too wet.
With a rain garden, you need to create a spot where the excess water in your yard drains into then you add plants that can thrive in water such as goldenrod, blue vervain, swamp rose and elderberry. This should be a part of your yard that’s at least 6 feet from the foundation of the house. If you stay in a relatively warm area, you can be sure to take care of any mosquitoes and other insects that may breed on the water.
11. Use hardscaping
Hardscaping refers to the use of construction materials to create artificial paths in the yard or other area affected by water. In this case, you have the option of cement, wood, limestone and other materials to build a path over a muddy area.
The reason hardscaping is a great solution is that it has the benefit of hardscaping is that it permanently does away with the muddy patches of your yard. You can use the hardscaping to create paths between houses and other points of interest in the home.
Some muddy spots can have overhead cover as well as ground cover. You can erect a patio, gazebo or other type of roofing to keep the place dry when it rains. This is well complemented with a hardscaped area to keep dry.
12. Add gravel or crushed limestone
Gravel does a great job at keeping your yard dry especially when you need a quick but permanent solution to it. With gravel, you just need to pour enough of it to make a level above the ground water.
You’re better off pouring it in large mounds then leveling it off with a shovel or other tool to the desired shape. Gravel is the best when it comes to creating paths and under trees that take long to dry in the rainy season.
13. Use shingles
Using shingles to create a path in your muddy yard is much better than using straw since the shingles can be strong enough to allow a truck pass through the muddy section without getting stuck. While it too is a temporary solution, it’s better than other temporary solutions since you can take away the shingles afterwards for other purposes.
14. Prefab pavers
Prefab pavers are among the permanent solutions to this issue as they can stay in place for years on end. They’re also easy to put in place as you just place them on the ground in the design you want and you’re done.
Best temporary fix for a muddy yard
The best temporary fix for drying up a muddy yard is applying straw, pine shavings, or organic mulch. These solutions can dry up the yard just enough to work on it either with a vehicle or on foot.
However, you’ll still need to replace them with a permanent solution as they won’t serve you for long. Temporary fixes get rid of the excess water and can leave the ground firmed-up and easy to use.
Solutions such as sand and pine flakes can also help level the lawn and stop dogs from carrying mud on their paws right into the house.