During hot dry periods, in areas with expansive soils, cracks will appear in the ground. In the Dallas and Fort Worth area, the cracks can become huge. In some parts of Irving and Grand Prairie, we have seen cracks that were up to 6 inches wide and went down as far as 20 feet.
As a homeowner, you want to know:
1. What causes the cracks – Cracks are caused by clay soils drying out. Expansive clay soils absorb water like sponges. Just like sponges, clays swell up as they absorb water. When a wet clay in a swollen state dries out, it shrinks. How much a clay shrinks depends on how much it swelled up. Some clays will double in volume as they go from a completely dry state to a saturated wet state. That means that when the same clay dries out it will shrink by 50%!
Conditions that cause drying cause cracking. Conditions that will dry out your yard include:
- hot dry weather
- low humidity
2. What do they mean – Cracking soils mean that soil in your yard is shrinking. If the soil shrinks enough, your house can settle. Why? The cracks are evidence of the soil shrinking sideways. Because we are standing on the soil we do not realize that the soil is also going down. In some areas with really expansive soils, such as Plano, McKinney, and Frisco, soils can dry and go down as much as 6 inches in a single summer!
3. What should you do about them – The only thing that you can do to prevent soil from shrinking and cracking is to water the yard. During a hot dry summer, it can take a staggering amount of water to keep your yard from cracking. I have heard of people with water bills of $400.00 a month! Since you most likely do not want to spend a fortune on watering, and alternative is to use soaker hoses.