Is there something we could amend the lawn soil with to help it drain into the ground or dry up?


I have a lawn question. My front yard, approx. a 1/4 acre, creates a “bowl”, we have a drainage pipe that drains the bulk of rain runoff into the woods but half of the “bowl” is still always saturated to the point we can’t mow it and it gets sun almost all day. Is there something we could amend the soil with to help it drain into the ground or dry up?


Jonathan Foster, Home Horticulture Outreach Professional

The surest method of solving the problem is probably to talk to a local landscaper about regrading the area or simply extending the drainage pipe farther into the woods (please check with the Maine DEP if you choose the latter to make sure you are in compliance with any regulations), but there are a couple of other things you can do, as well. I actually like this “Solving Drainage Problems” guide from the Fairfax County, VA, government website—to your question in particular, this section offers advice on amending the soil. For compact areas, you’re looking at a steady process of adding compost or other organic material to the area, which will eventually help transform the soil there into a more porous and well-draining composition. I will warn you that altering the drainage of compacted soil by adding amendments on top can require patience, as it’s not a quick fix.

I will also note that while one of the solutions offered in the link above is to plant a rain garden, you will see in our UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #2702, Adding a Rain Garden that we do not recommend planting them in an already wet, poorly-drained area. If you like the idea, keep it in your back pocket until the drainage of the spot has been improved through the above methods.

Happy gardening.