I've been reading posts here and there, all that deal with bits and pieces of my own lawn issues, but have decided to just put my own inquiries out there and see what I get.

My husband and I purchased our first home last fall. We sit on a quarter of an acre lot, it's a gradual slope from the SW corner toward the house and the NE corner of the property. The soil looks to be heavy on the clay. My flower beds are thick with grub worms and I've even occasionally found some scattered across the lawn. We have every weed imaginable. It drives me nuts! During our heavy rain season (which is now) water will collect in small pools, including one particular area near the house which my husband and I agree can largely be fixed with some guttering (not sure why it wasn't there in the first place!) We can't go out into the backyard after it rains for weeks because it's so soggy. The yard is very uneven. One of the nitwit homeowners before us dug a trench to divert water from the house, but it turns into a river that pours out over the retaining wall to the north of the property and into our neighbors yard/driveway like Niagra Falls. The fence on that side is beginning to rot because of the water damage it's sustained.

My thought is to start from nearly scratch on the backyard ... till up the soil, add whatever amendments it needs to get it draining better, bring in some fresh soil to fill in those holes and trenches ... I'd like to flatten it out from the house with a slight slope away toward a retaining wall that we would install after building up and flattening out the higher ground toward the rear or SW part of the property. It would still have a gradual slope toward the North, so we can continue the natural runoff, but we'd install a french drain along the newly installed retaining wall in the backyard as well as along the existing one on the north side ... replacing the rotting privacy fence while we're at it.

My husband takes issue with this because we have underground utilities in our backyard and I don't believe they're very deep. We would be working directly on top and close to the utilities. If we were to flatten out part of the backyard, we'd probably cut into the gas line. Would the utilities bury them deeper on request?

I would love some input on whether my expectations are realistic, if it would work and solve our landscaping/lawn issues, if the underground utilities pose a problem and if it can be worked around, and even some alternative suggestions. My husband suggests building up the dirt level around the house and basically just dumping new soil on top of what we have. But I'm concerned that his idea won't truly solve our problems.

Thank you all.