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New Builds and garden drainage problems

Hi all,

I’m after some advice if possible.

I’ve recently been doing some landscape work on a few new builds, but I’m facing the same problems. The ground is so wet and sludgy, it’s a nighmare to work in and not only that, I’m concerned wether the ground will hold up over time. ALL my clients have complained to the original contractors but they haven’t done much/anything about it. 


Has as anyone come across this issue before?

How did you resolve it?

What is the main cause of this?

I know over the time the newly laid turf will absorb some of the water, I guess another concern is the patio area


All comments welcome. Thanks in advance 



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  • About 30 years ago I was helping a friend of mine who was a landscaper and we were on a new build where the ground was saturated, particularly at one end where the ground was lower [of course]. You could see the bricks on the house below the damp proof strip were also saturated. I had never seen that before, or since. We were levelling and laying turf. We did manage it, but it was a pig and as it wasn’t my job, I have no idea how it faired afterwards. Sadly they will build houses on a swamp if there is cash to be made.

    If I were asked to do a job like that now, I would either advise the client that we should wait until the ground dries out, or I would walk away from the job. You can’t level wet ground/soil satisfactorily. I have found that any client will appreciate and respect professional advice like this as it shows that you are not just out to do a rough job and take the money.

    The only way to proceed if you must is if the ground is pretty much level to start with and it is possible to build up the required levels with new, dry topsoil which can be raked, levelled and worked with. It is better to build up certain areas with new dry top soil than to mistakenly try and rotovate and move mud, which can’t be done. But even with dry top soil, if the ground is a quagmire to start with, I would wait for it to dry out.

  • Hi Dan,

    If it were me I would postpone the work until you get a good run of dry weather. Where I work here in Belgium, the soil can turn to glue very quickly after heavy prolonged rain. It's absolutely no advantage to you or the soil to work it when it's in that  bad a condition. I have worked a fair few front and back gardens on new builds, back in Ireland during the celtic boom. The problem is compaction brought on by heavy machinery,constantly going back and forward pummeling the ground in all kinds of weather. Add in buried everything from the builders, and sprinkle over a smidgen of 'top soil', and that is my guess what your dealing with.' It's only a bit of grass after all.'

    I dont know the site so I can only guess but your gonna have to get down and relieve the compaction . Hopefully with a small digger. If you can get one in to the garden, be careful for services and also that you dont smear the soil as you use the bucket. I use it like a spade to break the compaction, down and pull back back without turning the bucket itself ( If that makes sense).If you smear it by turning the bucket you will in effect create a pan where the water cant pass through quickly enough, just like the builders did. you will need to get the soil back working again too. A good dose of compost 3cm layer on the top of the area and worked in.dont be tempted to add too much compost as after a while it will disappear and you will get soil sinking too.. Or use a soil regenerator of sum description to wake up the soil. 

    I hope this helps in some small way.... courage!! 



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