Proper drainage is a key element as to what will grow in your landscape and what won't. Even if the top 2 inches of soil is quality top soil with the perfect pH, if water leaches through quickly or is left standing in puddles, plants will have a tough time growing. You must determine the proper drainage for your yard so the landscape grows and adds value to your home.
Start watching the yard after a good rain. Determine where the water runs off quickly and where puddles develop. Examine the slope of the lawn at these points to see which way the ground slants.
Dig a small sample of soil from the yard where puddles have been forming and add the soil sample to the glass jar. Fill the jar with water and shake it for several minutes. Allow the jar to rest for 24 hours. The soil will settle into layers.
Observe the layers of the soil to see how much is sand, clay and loam. The bottom layer is sand. The middle layer is loam. The top layer will be clay. Check other areas of the yard with this same method, as no lawn has the same soil everywhere.
Add proper drainage to clay areas by installing drain pipes or adding more compost and sand. Loam and clay added to sandy areas help retain more water during dry periods.
Examine the plants and trees growing in the landscape to check for stress due to under- or over-watering. Wilted leaves or deformities in vegetation often happen due to improper water levels. Check the soil in these areas and correct as necessary.
Keep watching for stress among the plants to help maintain the proper drainage for your yard during the growing season. Adjust watering schedules accordingly until a more permanent solution is managed.