Backyard water pooling

Asked February 7, 2019, 10:19 AM EST

We have a large, healthy white pine in our back yard. One of its roots has created a dam causing the natural water runoff to overflow our yard. We’ve ruled out removing the tree. I am looking for a practical solution or solutions. The yard is currently a muddy mess. It makes letting our GSD out very difficult. HELP!!!

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

It would be very helpful if you could send us a photo (attached to a reply) of the area in question so that we can see the lay of the land.

In general:
You can fill in above the root with topsoil to bring the soil level even with the root, so that the water assumes its prior course. Do not add more than 3-4".

You can divert the water below the root to where you want it to go with landscape timbers (or other hardscape) or a shallow swale or low berm.

You can create a rain garden of native plants (many stunning possibilities, plus butterfly magnets) to catch the run-off. Here is our page on rain gardens:

Keep in mind that we are still seeing the effects of abnormally high rainfall last year (more than Seattle!), so you may not have much problem in the future. Though, with climate change, more rain is predicted.

It is not easy to have a lawn and dogs. You did not mention the site and how much sun or shade you have. If you get about 4 hours of sunlight you should plant tall fescue for full sun to part shade. If you have shade then consider fine fescue. However, this is snot a good combination for dogs. Fine fescue does not tolerate a lot of foot traffic.
You may need to divide your yard in half and restrict your dogs from going into the area where you are trying to establish a lawn and then work on the other side. The best times to seed are late summer-early fall to late winter into early spring. If you have dogs, you may find that you need to overseed in the fall as a general practice.
Another option is mulching areas for the dog instead of planting grass.
Here is a good article on lawns and dogs