After spending hours of your time laboring in your garden, the last thing you want is for improper drainage to kill your plants. Poor drainage does this by allowing rainfall to become standing water, which then wreaks havoc on plants. According to Z.A Groundworks Ltd, which specializes in groundworks in Basildon, making sure you have adequate garden drainage is important to having a successful garden.

What Are the Side Effects of Poor Drainage?

Poor drainage in gardens can easily be spotted through issues, such as dead or dying plants. According to Heather Rhoades, standing water ensures that oxygen can’t reach the roots of the plant. This then kills the roots and guarantees that the plant dies.

Unfortunately, the side effects of poor garden drainage don’t stop there. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, reduced drainage can encourage the growth of fungi. Some of the fungi commonly seen in gardens with poor drainage are lichen, algae, and liverworts. Additionally, drainage issues can encourage the growth of weeds and invite pests.

If you know you already have drainage problems, make sure to keep an eye out for these side effects while you work to fix the issue.

What Causes Poor Drainage?

There are varying causes to poor drainage, such as the type of soil used. In particular, Rhoades says that clay soil is notorious for causing drainage problems. As clay soil is denser, the water is slower to absorb, which can cause the issue of standing water. In addition, clay soil can cause the issue of compaction. This means the soil is tightly compressed, making water absorption difficult.

A high water table, or the place underground where the soil is completely saturated with water, can mean poor drainage issues. If you live in a place like Florida, this could especially be an issue for you.

Additionally, layers of hard material under the soil can cause poor drainage. If a hard material, like stone, lays beneath your soil, it will be difficult for the soil to absorb the water, especially in cases of heavy rainfall.

There are many different methods you can use to fix these issues, so don’t worry if either of those describes your garden.

Solutions to Improve Garden Drainage with Clay Soil

There are a few different effects of clay soil, so it’s important to put in place solutions to improve the drainage.

Firstly, avoiding compaction is key. To avoid compaction, you will want to avoid having much foot traffic, if any, in your garden. Additionally, a good way to avoid compaction is to avoid tilling your garden. However, if your soil is already compacted, Ed Macie recommends taking a few measures to fix it.

One option is to mix soils, so, compacted soil can be mixed with healthy compost. This ensures that that compacted soil has air pockets which allow for efficient drainage. Make sure you use 50% of each soil, or it might not work!

Another way to fix compacted soil is through core aeration. Essentially, you will just be taking out pockets of compacted soil at a depth of about three inches. There are some aerators you can purchase that will do exactly that for you.

Lastly, a method you can use for already established gardens is to add earthworms. Earthworms will eat through the compacted soil, leaving behind healthier soil. Earthworms also leave air pockets that will aerate the ground.

There are also some measures to help with clay soil that isn’t compacted, but is still dense and causes poor drainage. A way to improve drainage is to add organic materials, such as compost or manure.

In addition, you can grow a cover crop. When your garden is taking a break during cold seasons, plant a cover crop such as clovers. When it is time for gardening again, the roots and plant itself can be driven into the soil to add organic material.

If none of these options of working with clay soil appeal to you, you can simply grow a raised bed garden. With this, your garden will grow above the soil, eliminating the need to develop ways to improve your poor garden drainage.

General Solutions to Improve Garden Drainage

Improving the drainability of clay soil requires specific techniques. However, the rest of these tips are applicable to any issues. So, whether you have a high water table or merely a lot of heavy rainfall, you can use these tips.

The first solution is to make an underwater drain. A French drain is an easy-to-make option. Essentially, for a French drain, you dig a trench, add gravel, and then cover it back up with soil.

According to Rhoades, another way to improve your soil drainage is to redirect the water flow. To do this, create a berm, which is a small hill covered with grass that redirects the water down the hill to protect the garden.

Another easy way to improve drainage is to simply collect some of the rainwater in a barrel. This is especially effective if you put them under any drains from your house that might direct excess water into your garden.

Lastly, you can build a small pond in your garden to help with drainage.  This requires a little more effort, but can be very appealing to look at!

Go Improve Your Garden Drainage

Gardening can be tricky at first, but some simple tips can go a long way towards creating a happy, healthy garden. These suggestions should help resolve quite a few issues and make your life easier the next time you choose to work in your garden.

As a friendly reminder, keep an eye out for any side effects mentioned while you work on improving your drainage, such as mold or root rot.

Remember, if you have compacted soil, you can use an aerator or even just a raised bed to help fix your drainage problems. There are a number of methods you can use for general draining issues, such as rain barrels or man-made ponds.

Now, go ahead and give these techniques a try. Your garden will thank you!

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