Do geotextiles clog up?

The most common technical question we are asked “Doesn’t the fabric around the drain clog up?”

The answer takes more than a simple “no” or “yes.”

Most of the misunderstanding about geotextiles comes from their original introduction into the golf course industry when they were first used as “socked pipe.” The industry installed the “socked pipe” into a bed of gravel. When failed systems were removed from the ground it was noticed that clay and silts had accumulated around the sock and the sock was blamed for the drainage failure.

In reality, the gravel had failed because it was not sized properly for the native soils. If the gravel had been the proper backfill the fines would have never reached the sock. If a backfill material with smaller particles had been used, such as a coarse sand, the native soil particles would have never moved to the sock.

By definition the description of a properly built seepage system is a stable system. The entire objective of particle sizing is to build a system that is stable. The system should allow for the movement of water without the movement of fines in the water stream. This is why TDA has recommended coarse sand as the proper backfill material to be used with geotextiles since 1984 when we introduced “Turf Drain” to the golf course industry. Geotextiles used in combination with a properly sized coarse sand will not clog over time.