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So I have a crawlspace door with mulch that goes right up to it, and the ground level is slightly depressed at the level of the door. The main problem I think is that the ground underneath the mulch seems to be clay and probably doesn't drain very well, because I have some water seepage into the crawlspace when it rains.
See pictures of the outside here:
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(I forgot to take pictures of the clay underneath, but just trust me on the fact that it definitely doesn't drain well).

My question is this: what is the right way to prevent rainwater from entering the crawlspace? I could feasibly see myself digging up more space just outside the crawlspace door to make sure water doesn't seep in over the mulch, but I feel like that would just cause rainwater to pool there as it drains from surrounding areas into that big hole I'd have created. And I can't put any more mulch in front of the door than I already have, so the reverse (creating a mound) isn't really an option.

Do I have to do something a little more transformative here, or is there a simple solution I'm overlooking? I wouldn't mind getting rid of mulch altogether but the clay underneath is really frustrating me.

Btw I live in zone 7b if that indicates anything about the soil.

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  • if there a downspout entering the ground at that corner? if so you might be able to tie into that for a drain at the door, then you can make that hole and trust that water can drain away Sep 19, 2023 at 12:42
  • If you have a way to daylight it, a french drain right at the door might help.
    – Huesmann
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:53

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As a rule, correcting water problems around a building mostly comes down to creating a slope (of the actual ground) away from the house, 1% being a typical figure for "minimum effective slope" (1/8" per foot (close enough) or 1cm/m.) Ideally slope away for at least 10-12 feet (3-4m.) That probably falls under "more transformative" in your problem description.

Mulch does not really help fix slope, it just covers the ground surface, but is highly permeable to water. If you mulch a puddle, you get a puddle-sized area of sodden mulch. So pull off the mulch into a pile, fix the grade of the ground, put the mulch back; or plant things if you'd rather have plants than mulch; or (with different and additional preparation) pour concrete or set pavers or lay asphalt (maintaining that slope away from the house) if that's what you'd rather have.

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