Q: My husband and I are new homeowners and thought you might be able to give us some insight. We purchased our home in December 2000. We were excited and looked forward to this spring when our landscape would explode with color.
To our dismay, our backyard was not landscaped properly by our builder! With every rain there is not only standing water but a three foot wide stream that runs through the center of our yard. Needless to say, the grass seeds have all been washed away and there is now erosion that is quickly turning into a ditch.
The builder is sending someone to look things over. We want to be able to tell him exactly what we expect: a nice backyard. We were advised by others to have the backyard completely sodded once the water is properly directed. Should we sod with Bermudagrass or plant fescue?
A: You have already figured out your first priority: correct the water situation. Either you or the builder has to identify the source(s) of the water and install the means to direct it through underground pipes or along an aboveground hard surface.
If the water problem isn’t fixed, you’ll always have a problem in your yard. Sodding the area and letting the water run across it is not the answer. Neither Bermuda or fescue will live if water stands on it or frequently flows across it.
In my opinion, home builders have a responsibility to fix drainage problems even after closing has occurred. Grading done before the house is built is sometimes insufficient when the final landscape is installed. In their defense, the house might have been built during the drought last summer and they might never have had a chance to see the water problem. A competent landscape contractor can solve your water woes but it will likely require substantial earth moving.