smelly yard

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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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Was there ever a septic system in the yard?

to
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No, never.

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The Data Rat wrote:

Have the soil tested. Look close at the PH. Go from there.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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Do any neighbors have septic systems? The algae is worrisome and suggestive of biomass rotting. I suspect either a sewer line leak or seepage into your yard from a neighbor's septic system. I would dig a test hole with a posthole digger in the greenest part of the yard, to see what kind of mung seeps into it. Sewage tainted water typically turns the earth around the area green, especially in sunlight.
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No, this area has always been on city water and sewage. I don't know if being at the edge of a swamp (the last part of the Great Dismal Swamp) has anything to do with it. That is odd that the situation you suggest sounds so close to mine. Just to make sure, I went to the city records and asked my neighbor who bought his house new, and there was never septic here...before the area was built, it was all swamp. Sure couldn't happen now with all the laws protecting wetlands.
Thanks
Suzi

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Sounds like Return Of The Swamp Thing! :^/
If the land used to be swamp, I suspect that is the core of your problem. Cheapass land developers often just bulldoze all the trees and stuff into a low spot, and bury them. That, plus a high water table, will rot for decades. You don't have a basement, I take it? Even if your lot is solid dry ground, if you have the low lot in the development, stuff that outgasses from the swamp may collect in your yard.
Need to do some deep (10 foot, at least) boreholes, and see what is down there. There may not BE a cheap solution. Unless you can eliminate whatever is rotting, the only other solution is to eliminate the water, which could mean drainage changes in the entire neighborhood. Maybe an excavator could take off the top few feet, and fit a clay cap, like on a landfill?
aem sends...
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snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net (ameijers) says...

Swamps will outgas methane all by themselves with no help from humans. He may have thousands of years of buried organics under there. The problem may not be high water, it may be that they drained the swamp. Anaerobic conditions could have preserved swamp muck since the last ice age, then draining the swamp let it start to decompose.
Test cores are definitely indicated.
--
http://home.teleport.com/~larryc

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Umm, make like your going to do some more extensive digging, and call your local utility locating service, and have them locate the utility lines that run on your property.
That and a few well placed test digs should tell you a lot.
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cheap and easy way, but slow, is to stop by your local lawn care center and get a couple bags of lime, spread that on the lawn. . Don't expect instant miracles. Heavy clay is tough to work with, but lime will help break down the surface and will probably get rid of the algae and mold. RJ

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Are you sure he wants lime? I wonder if gypsum might be better for clay.
http://www.humeseeds.com/gypsum.htm

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I have used TONS of gypsum...literally. It lasts for about a year before I am back to hard gray clay.

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I think I will do that. I am getting ready to deck what yard I have left and I don't want the smell coming in under the deck. I think I will put on powdered lime and then cover that with palletized lime. I was thinking of making the deck angle down ever so slightly and forcing the boards as close together as I could to keep the area dry so it won't smell under there. Does that sound reasonable? I know I am being unreasonable now. Last weekend I had a cookout and we ended up moving it to the front yard because it smelled so bad.
Thanks P.S.
Art, I am a woman!!! :-)

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The Data Rat wrote:

This doesn't sound like naturally occurring odors, even with two dogs. Are they mastiffs? If they potty in one confined area, perhaps. Clay is almost like a "container" - a pot - that traps what enters it. I would make a concerted effort to walk the dogs and keep their toileting out of the yard for a while - a month, at least. Then (or sooner if you are inclined) I would have the city look at it for possible sewage line ruptures. If there is a lot of vegetative matter in the wet area, I would clear that as well. Putting in a gravel bed and a french drain may be the solution.
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Does it smell like 1) swamp muck (that black stuff on the bottom of the lagoon), 2) sewer gas when a trap has no water in it, or 3) rotting wood or vegetation?
Do you have a basement, or are you too far south to need one, or is ground water too high to have one?
You know you are a Redneck when... you have so many dogs you can smell their urine outside (not just on the carpet).
--
David Efflandt - All spam ignored http://www.de-srv.com /

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Hi,
I am 7 miles form the ocean front so nobody does the basement thing around here. We hit water at 10-15 feet easily. My well that I use for the yard is okay...high in iron, like every other well around here. The smell is a dirty swampy smell you speak of. The development is 30 years old and there is a drainage canal right behind my yard. My dogs are 2 shar pei, no gigantic breed.
wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@xnet.com (David Efflandt) wrote:

Uh oh.
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8^\~~~ Sue (remove the x to e-mail)
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What is the smell?? Does it smell like sewage or "swampy"? I live in So. Alabama, totally impervious clay soil, when I open up my swimming pool and clean all the algae out of it, my yard smells "swampy" for several weeks. You might need to consider better drainage :-( RJ

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It may be sewage, if you dont know your sewer run talk to your water dept and have them show you where your sewer run is . They may also have a better idea, like Hoffas grave.
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Hahahaha! I was gonna ask about an old indian burial grounds or something. I agree with the lime. Works for dead cattle!

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