With the wettest winter on record, if our gardens are not flooded, they have certainly had more than their fair share of water. Some of our plants will undoubtably suffer from the deluge, however there are ways to manage and minimise any water damage within our gardens, and there may also be some benefits to be had in the long term.
Problems of waterlogged Soil
When soil is waterlogged, plants will literally drown. The water fills all the air spaces between the soil particles and this means that oxygen can not reach the roots. As a result this causes the soil to stagnate and root growth is prevented.
How to know if your garden is waterlogged
Other than the fact it may be undewater … the leaves on plants may turn yellow, wither and drop off. The plant may also wilt, giving the impression that it has insufficient water. The surface of the soil may look soaking wet and there may be standing water upon it. Plant roots often turn black and begin to rot, causing stunted growth or the plants may fail to sprout or shoots die off.
Compaction of Top Soil
Once the soil becomes waterlogged, any traffic, either by foot or vehicle will cause the soil to become compacted and drainage will be significantly reduced. Once the soil becomes compacted, drainage is affected and puddles easily form on the surface. Lawns will quickly become boggy and the soil will retain too much water, easily turning to mud and creating ‘dead’ patches as plants fail.
Disease as a result of excess water
Waterlogging and compaction can create ideal conditions for diseases such as phytopthora and other fungal attacks. For example, box is prone to box blight in poorly-drained sites.
How to reduce the impact of waterlogged soil
Avoid walking on wet soil as this will speed up compaction. If potted plants have become waterlogged, they should be dujg up and any damaged parts of the roots removed, then replanted in fresh, free-draining compost. dead or dying shoots should be removed. Drainage on lawns can be improved by spiking and adding a lime free san
Ways to help prevent waterlogging
When planting, a good covering of mulch can be added over and around the root area. Plants should be regularly fed tha clay soil, roughout the growing season the promote new root growth.
All plants should be regularly watered in the dry seasons as plants are more likely to suffer from drought stress after extended periods of waterlogging.
Soil structure and drainage can be improved, particularly in a clay soil, by adding a good amount of organic matter before planting. The same can be added to a free draining soil to add nutrients and help add bulk to the soil.
Raised beds filled with a free draining topsoil can be a good solution to waterlogging, however if planting in the ground waterlogging can be reduced by forking the sides of the hole to allow the water an escape.Beds and pots can have gravel or pottery added below the soil and then raised above the ground, allowing space for water to drain away.
There are several more extreme methods of removing excess water from the garden including construction of a soak away or specific drainage system. This could be simply a ditch filled with gravel or perhaps a more sophisticated pipe drainage system. For this you may want a qualified and recommended garden company to assist with levels etc.
How to make a feature of your ‘Water’ garden
In some circumstances it may be worth considering what plants are in the garden and what may be better suited to the environment. If plants consistently fail or are poor to perform due to waterlogged soil or flooding, it may be worth looking at replacing them with trees and plants that are better suited to wet soil. Trees and shrubs that do well in moist conditions include salix, cornus, betula, sambucus, liquidambar, ash and amelanchier. You could plant irises, carex, gunnera, primulas, hostas, rheum and rodgersia and create a bog garden. This will also help to promote wildlife within your garden.If you are planning to lay a lawn, ensure the ground is not compacted and dig in plenty of organic matter, grit and sand before laying turf or sowing seeds.
In all cases or if you are unsure about the conditions for any plants within your garden, or are looking for a solution to drainage or planting areas, it is always worth asking the experts www.haskett.co.uk
Haskett Ltd, Rowan Cottage, Cannons Green
Fyfield, Essex, CM5 0TG
T 01277 899325 , M 078507 61865