Soils that are mainly composed of clay or silt have a higher water holding capacity. Their larger surface areas make it easier for the soil to hold onto water. If your backyard has clay or silt soil, you will have a higher chance for ponding and pooling. Increasing organic matter will help your soil retain water. The United States Department of Agriculture maintains an on-line Soil Survey that you can access to find out more about the soils where you live. How well drained are they? How deep or shallow is the seasonally high water table? Is it prone to ponding or flooding?

Adding compost, manure, and using native landscaping are all healthy ways to add organic matter to your soil. If you would like to have your soil tested please contact the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory. It is a great way to ensure fertile soil without excess fertilizer pollution and runoff.

What is a Drainage and Utility Easement?

Every Nearly every residential property contains a drainage and utility easement around the perimeter of the lot. In many cases there may be a drainage and utility easement elsewhere on the property. The property within this easement is owned by the homeowner; however, the city and utility companies are permitted to use the easement for drainage swales, storm sewers, water lines, or any other utility such as telephone, cable tv, gas and electric lines.

Generally the easement runs along the property line and is 5 feet wide on the sides and 10 feet wide in the front and rear. The City recommends landscaping outside the easement. You are not allowed to change the grade or place structures within the drainage and utility easement unless you have applied for, and been granted an encroachment agreement to do so. Keep in mind that your plantings or any other improvements made within the easement could be damaged or removed if work needs to be done in the easement and any replacement costs will be borne by the land owner.

Additionally, trees and shrubs, unless suited to wet conditions, usually don’t do well in drainage swales and could create drainage problems if they impede the natural flow of water. Other easements could be located on your property.

If you are unsure, call the City Engineering Department prior to planting a tree or shrub or grading your yard. Any grading in excess of 50 cubic yards or 5,000 square feet will require an earth work permit.

Historic Topographic Map

See what type of land your backyard is historically!  
1905 Historic topographic map
1907 Historic topographic map
1958 Historic topographic map

Historic Aerial Map

Carver County has developed several interactive GIS mapping applications that are available to the public. Their property information application has unique tools to allow you to compare your property currently to what it was like in 1979! Was it wooded, in agricultural production or was it a wetland area? All you have to do is open the historic photography application and select which year you would like to compare with.