One of the most frustrating challenges we hear of from homeowners is the “Squishy Yard” nightmare. Stories abound of homeowners trying to address it themselves. With everything from crazy pipe and drain contraptions to spending bank on landscape solutions that just don’t work. Unfortunately, this is something you or your landscaper is not equipped to handle.
Changing Environmental Rules
Your “Squishy Yard” is soil science matter that needs to be addressed by a Building Biologist. Today’s homes are advancing at such a pace that Codes and Regulations just can’t keep pace with the Science. A good example is Moisture Intrusion Management and the effects it has on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). It all starts with the era your home was constructed in.
When Was Your Home Built?
What does the era of your home’s construction have to do with a “Squishy Yard” you might ask. We find that it has everything to do with it. Construction standards differed as synthetic materials were developed. Land use expanded and more and more environmental rules were implemented. A home built in 1985 has different environmental considerations than one built-in 1950. Your “Squishy Yard” might be a sign of bigger moisture issues than you realize.
New Jersey – The Swamp State
Take New Jersey, for example, it’s basically a “swamp.” It was normal to relocate streams or fill wetlands to create land to build on. Farmers liked to plant in wetlands that today might not be the best place to build a house on. Environmental rules were changing how the land was developed.
Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act
With the introduction of the Clean Water Act in 1975, Freshwater Wetlands became protected and the practice of filling them ended. But what about all those homes built on an old wetland? What about older homes that are now being re-built with bigger basements. In neighborhoods that historically were prone to water intrusion due to wetlands? Bet they have that “Squishy Yard.”
Structures Built on Wetlands
Older homes built on filled wetlands could have a hidden moisture issue that creates that “Squishy Yard”. That “Squishy Yard” could be migrating into your home via “Capillary Draw” and degrading its IAQ. Understanding soil science and how it interacts with your yard and home is key to managing your “Squishy Yard.”
So What Do I Do?
Every home has its own unique drainage considerations. There is no easy “one size fits all” answer. First, find an Environmental Contractor well versed in Building Biology to help. They will assess your unique situation and point you in the direction of relevant moisture management & drainage techniques. Then, start educating yourself. Here are a few resource links that can help:
USGS Water Science School
USDA and Soils Information
EPA Wetlands protection & Restoration
Princeton Soils Institute