How to Isolate the Drainage Problem in Your Garden


Success in any garden depends on well drained soils. Water needs to percolate through the soil, to benefit plants in the process. Standing water can be serious, especially if it lodges around the necks of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees, or causes waterlogging (complete soil saturation). Waterlogging leads to the drowning of plant roots, the build up of poisons in the soil and eventually, in extreme cases, the death of plants. Suspicious areas, where water stands around on the soil surface for any length of time after rain ceases, need investigation. Try to isolate the specific cause of the problem and then deal with it. A totally effective drainage system is likely to be achieved by a combination of construction work and soil cultivation.

Drainage Problem Garden

Starting with some of the more obvious causes of standing water:

Roof water

Where water from any roof is allowed to fall unchecked onto borders underneath, flooding is inevitable, and that can result in waterlogging and root suffocation. The permanence of the flooding depends to a large extent on the nature of the soil — light sandy soils drain away the quickest. However, life on all soils is made virtually impossible for plants as soil is washed away to disturb and expose their surface roots to the elements.

Fit guttering and down spouts to all buildings, and preferably direct the rainwater into a water butt. Where space is at a premium, and it is neither practical nor convenient to accommodate a water butt, direct the roof water into the nearest domestic drain.

Run-off water from paths and hard-surfaced areas

Similarly water running off paths and large patio areas, onto nearby beds, can be a nuisance. Here French drains taken out alongside the hard-surfaced area can solve the problem.

Dig out a trench about 40 cm (16 in) deep and a minimum of 20 cm (8 in) wide. Make it wider where the problems are serious and the areas involved are large. Fill up the trench with small stones or broken rubble to within 5 cm (2 in) of the surface, and then level off with small chippings.

Another possibility to consider is the interception and diversion of excess water. Concrete gulleys built into paths and driveways can help. Construct these gulleys so that they channel the water to, and discharge it down, service drains.

Water run off from higher ground

Whether the water is from a neighbour’s garden — or your own garden — the treatment is much the same as when dealing with wetness alongside hard-surfaced areas. Take out a French drain to intercept the flow of water.

Sloping ground

Surface water run off down sloping ground can cause waterlogging at the base, erosion and wash down, of soil and stones. This is a problem which can frequently be minimized by contour planting across the slope, provided the slope is not too steep. Ground cover shrubs like rose of sharon and periwinkle are ideal for the purpose. Plant the shrubs closely to give dense ground coyer quickly.

Drainage Problem Garden

Water standing around the base of a retaining wall needs prompt attention, or you risk destabilization of the wall. Seek the advice of a qualified surveyor.

Standing water on lawns

In extreme cases consider putting in a rubble-filled sump.

Blocked drains

Check for blocked or broken drains and weeping water mains.

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  4. How to Level a Garden Ground as a Beginner
  5. How to Water Your Garden in the Right Way

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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