dirty yard

My yard smells. It is heavy clay and when it rains, it holds moisture and turns green with either algae or mold. (I have had 2 loads of top soil brought in, tilled it and amended it per the dept. of agriculture. It always started out great, then turns back to clay. Overall, I have spent about 3K on the back yard)
Oddly enough, where it smells the worst is in an area that gets full sun to bright shade all day. The yard is graded correctly, it slopes down, away from the house. I do not have any trees in the yard, but there are very tall pine tree's behind the yard.
My question is what can I put on it to neutralize the smell? I am getting ready to deck the remaining yard in so I don't care if it kills the grass, (what little there is). I also have 2 dogs and the smell of urine stays forever. Baking soda doesn't work and I have actually tried Febreeze. It's just a rank smell.
Thanks!
Suzi
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any chance there is sewage perking up thru the clay??? it couldnt be an old drain field? has anyone added gypsum to the clay to break it up? bad smell in a pond is always due to anaerobic fermentation. if the soil is aerated it wont stink. I use plain old dish soap to wash our dogs urine off the concrete and frankly, it works better than anything else I have tried. I put a big squirt of joy lemon into about a gallon sized open bucket and slosh that around. I do fence my itty bitty backyard so the mutts cant just go anywhere they please. urine is like ammonia, need an acid to neutralize it, altho like I said joy dish soap works. Ingrid

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ List Manager: Puregold Goldfish List http://puregold.aquaria.net / www.drsolo.com Solve the problem, dont waste energy finding who's to blame ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Unfortunately, I receive no money, gifts, discounts or other compensation for all the damn work I do, nor for any of the endorsements or recommendations I make.
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Thanks,
I live in a 30 year old city development that was woods before the houses were built. There never was a septic tank. 3 years ago, I took samples to the local dept. of agriculture and added gypsum, sifted top soil, sand, peat moss, and perlite just as I was told to. This cost a freaking fortune because I had to take down a tree, my privacy fence so the excavating equipment could get back there to remove several dump truck loads of the clay and dump in the amended soil. I had a great yard for a year...then the clay came back. I have tilled it every year and added more gypsum since then and it is a waste.
As I said, I have decked half the yard and am getting ready to deck all but a 10 x 10 area for the dogs. My neighbor showed me where the sewage lines are and there are none in the back yard. They run from the front side of the house to the front. But, I think you are right about the anaerobic fermentation. As someone asked about my post, it is a swampy mucky smell. Trouble is, I have done everything to aerate but . the clay seems to rise to the top.
No that you mention Joy dish soap, I did use it in hose end sprayer one year and it worked. That's what I will do tomorrow!
Thanks everyone! I feel so much better getting some suggestions. My neighbor put in an in ground pool and his yard is all concrete. Maybe I should open a pottery studio since I have the clay!

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On Mon, 31 May 2004 22:16:19 -0400, "The Data Rat"

Perchance does the ground need drained? Does it actually stay soggy? Or just stinky?
Is there any chance you could be in anything like a "Love Canal" like area? Yeah I know you said there were woods there, but what kind of woods? How far are you from a substantial body of water, canal, lake, ocean?? What kind of trees where there... if you know?
Janice
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Hi,
[Message Start]

and
3 years ago, I took samples to the local dept. of agriculture and added gypsum, sifted top soil, sand, peat moss, and perlite just as I was told to. This cost a freaking fortune because I had to take down a tree, my privacy fence so the excavating equipment could get back there to remove several dump truck loads of the clay and dump in the amended soil. I had a great yard for a year...then the clay came back. I have tilled it every year and added more gypsum since then and it is a waste.
But, I think you are right about the anaerobic fermentation. As someone asked about my post, it is a swampy mucky smell. Trouble is, I have done everything to aerate but . the clay seems to rise to the top.

to
Hmmm...that sounds like my clay, NOXIOUS! Like someone else asked, it is a mucky smell, not a sewer type smell. That would also explain why it got worse after I added the peat moss, gypsum and other organic material. What do you do about this? It is bluish gray, slippery and slimy when wet, dries hard a brick and cracks when it is dry.
[Message End]
I facing the same problem as you before.
I got a land at the river side, surrounded by wetland. Water from wetland pass through below my land to the river.
I dig a 4' wide, 3' deep diversion drain around my whole land and connected to the river to intercept water coming all around from wetland. This solve the problem.
Now there is some one feet long common snakehead(channa striata) in the diversion drain I dig(with backhoe), I'm thinking of doing some fishing when free. <g>
Regards, Wong
-- Latitude: 06.10N Longitude: 102.17E Altitude: 5m
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May I ask, where do you live? It's possible your yard contains 'Marine Clay', an especially noxious form of clay that can, when saturated, cause anaerobic decomposition of any organics within the soil structure. This decomposition without oxygen causes really bad smells as all sorts of alkyds and even alcohols are produced.
If you tell us where you live perhaps we can look at soil maps of your area.
Dave

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Hmmm...that sounds like my clay, NOXIOUS! Like someone else asked, it is a mucky smell, not a sewer type smell. That would also explain why it got worse after I added the peat moss, gypsum and other organic material. What do you do about this? It is bluish gray, slippery and slimy when wet, dries hard a brick and cracks when it is dry.
I live in Virginia Beach, VA at the very edge of the swamp. Even though I am 7 miles from the ocean, there is absolutely no sand, Incidentally, last year I bought 50 pounds of three different types of earth worms to keep the soil aerated. I guess they are just more organic fodder for my clay.

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On Mon, 31 May 2004 22:22:45 -0400, "The Data Rat"

Ah HA!!! at the edge of the Swamp!!! yep clay, ground is too wet.. should have spent money putting up a sealed concrete bunker with one way valves for moisture to go OUT not IN.
You're on swamp ground ..that's been "reclaimed".. sort of. Dry on top, wet underneath. Sounds like you need some way of "draining" the soil, but the only way I know of doing that is for them to dig drain ditches, but if you're at the edge of a swamp the ditches would just fill up while they were digging them. I don't know if you have any kind of a sump, doubt you have a basement, but about all you can do is try to find things that will grow there that will utilize that type of soil. Willows, Mangroves wouldn't grow without brackish water I imagine, but .. have you talked to your County Extension agent.. master gardener.. or better.. see if you can talk to the actual agent if at all possible to see if he/she knows about your area or knows anyone else that has experience with that area. If the ground is basically water logged clay there is going to be precious little that can live in it except bog plants and the stuff that's living over there in the swamp, might be time to look around there and see if there are things you like. Get some pitcher plants and sundew! Find any plants that could grow there, the more you get growing the more moisture it can wick up out of the soil, the more it'll "sweeten" the soil.
Good Luck!!
Janice

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wowow... after spending all that money for additives. you need to get somebody in there can tell you if there is any way to drain the area or if it is just going to keep coming and coming and coming. I mean all that nice stuff worked in. sheesh OTOH. http://puregold.aquaria.net/landscape/gravel/gravel.htm my back yard is 25' x 25' and it is low too. not that greasy stuff it is actually well drained. But if it was me I would start by putting down impermeable later of something like permalon or epdm and use gravel instead of grass on top of it. That will stop the stink AND water will drain off the gravel (as long as it is sloped at all) then build your garden UP with boxes over areas that dont have plastic. that way everything gets dry soil on top and can put their roots down into wet (I would go for plants dont mind wet feet). soon I will update my backyard pictures cause it is like a jungle back there now. Ingrid

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ List Manager: Puregold Goldfish List http://puregold.aquaria.net / www.drsolo.com Solve the problem, dont waste energy finding who's to blame ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Unfortunately, I receive no money, gifts, discounts or other compensation for all the damn work I do, nor for any of the endorsements or recommendations I make.
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If you are in the Hampton Roads area, the water table is just under the soil - anywhere from one foot to maybe 6 feet in most of the more low-lying areas. This is why you don't find very many basements there. (They would be weeping water year round). I think you pretty much have to accept that the soil will remain somewhat saturated all the time except in exceptional drought years - which means that you won't get the mix of air into the soil that would lighten it up and fix the smell problem. I think your best bet, short of moving, would be to plant the kind of things that are native to swampy parts of that area - in particular, sweet bay magnolia, which is a beautiful tree, and perhaps bald cypress. Their roots MIGHT open up the soil enough to ameliorate some of the problem - but no guarantees.

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Sounds like you've either got an old septic field that's perc-ing up through your soil, or an anaerobic sediment. Call your state agricultural college and see if someone in the soils department might be willing to look at a sample, and your local extension service office to see if they've got your property on a soils map.
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yard, removed much of the clay, but, all the land around you hasn't changed, so there is an impermiable layer of clay all around your yard. Your yard is now a giant bowl, holding a lot of water, just under the surface.
If you can drain the sub-surface water, the smell will go away.
dig a test hole to see how much water collects in it over a 24H period, how many inches to the water. If you can get the water down to 5 feet below the surface, (in a flat region, 3 feet on the side of a hill) that should take care of it.
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On Mon, 31 May 2004 11:42:35 -0400, "The Data Rat"
Any worms out there than you noticed in that clay ground? It sounds like there is no drainage, and worms would create lots of holes for water to percolate down into the ground, but a lot of places have nothing for the worms to eat.. no organic matter, and it sounds like with no leaves and sounds like it must be bare or close to it ..are there any plants that develop tap roots? something needs to open that soil up for it to drain properly. Soil acid? before you put more top soil on it. If you had room to bring in all that soil, was it a new construction with the icky clay subsoil left after they scraped off the top soil? Otherwise, how did you have room to add truckloads of more soil?
Yes as others asked, need to have some idea of what part of the country you're in. No, don't need your address ;-)
Janice

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