Waterlogging can be a challenge for any homeowner who maintains a lawn and garden. Water is the essence of life for your grass and plants, but poor drainage can create unhealthy conditions.
There are a few things you can do to prevent waterlogged soil. Trying a combination of the suggestions we offer will help you achieve better drainage and create a friendlier environment for your landscape.
What Causes Waterlogging?
Too much water is the simple reason waterlogging occurs. But any gardener will tell you that the simple answer isn't always the most helpful. A better way to explain the cause of waterlogging is to consider how your garden and lawn receive moisture.
The area in which you live plays a big role. If your neck of the woods receives a lot of rain, waterlogging is more prone to occur. It isn't just the abundance of rain that creates a problem, however. In maintaining your lawn, you also have to find that balance between watering and letting nature do its work. That can be a challenge. The tendency of some gardeners is to overwater. They think that too much water is an easy problem to fix.
Poor drainage is another common cause of waterlogging. We often give more consideration to the aesthetics of a garden than we do to its function. Knowing how the water will drain from your landscape is a must, and you should know before you plant. Try putting your ideas on paper before you jump into planting.
Preventing Too Much Water in Your Garden
A good starting point for preventing too much water in your garden is determining the best type of irrigation for your landscaping. If you use raised beds or containers, this is much easier. A well-placed soaker hose in your flower beds and consistent watering of your container plants will do the trick. In this type of garden, you can also easily observe the buildup of water before it becomes a real problem.
If you have a more extensive landscape, extra thought is required. In almost every case, you will find that hoses offer you more flexibility than expensive irrigation systems. The homeowner is best served by being able to easily control the amount of water that is being delivered. For this, there is no substitute for good hoses. Leave the fancy irrigation to the commercial applications where it is needed most.
You should also invest time in plant selection. If you are gardening in an area that will hold lots of water, choose plants that are going to require more of it. The type of mulch you select is also crucial. You want something that allows the soil to maintain a little bit of springiness.
Over-mulching will make it harder for water to disperse. You can also think about using attractive elements such as rain barrels to collect and direct excess water.
Fixing a Waterlogged Garden
If waterlogging occurs despite your efforts to prevent it, don't despair. There are actually a few things you can do to repair waterlogged soil.
Organic matter, such as leaf mold or manure, added to the soil will help absorb moisture from your garden. At the same time, it provides valuable, rich nutrients that will keep working for your plants in the off-season.
Consider areas that include the use of raised flower beds. Not only are these structures easier to maintain, they also offer endless creative opportunities. You can use raised beds to create beautiful patterns and flows that enhance the visual appeal of your lawn while reducing the chance of waterlogging.
Those who use containers will want to keep those containers off the ground. Most containers today have built-in drainage that will prevent too much water in the container, but the runoff around the base of the container can be a problem. Elevate your containers to aid with water absorption and evaporation.
Finally, you can use stones and other path markers to help direct water. Sometimes the simple fix for waterlogging is redirecting how the water moves throughout your garden. Naturally direct it toward those areas where it can be better absorbed or run off.
Waterlogging is an issue that can be avoided with a little forethought. Take the time to plan for healthy irrigation before you create your outdoor paradise.
For more general watering information, read the following articles:
How to Choose a Garden Irrigation System
Garden Watering Made Easy with These Top Tips
Everything You Should Know About Deep Watering
How to Keep Outdoor Plants Watered When You're on Vacation
A Guide to Water-Efficient Gardening
Plants and Water—A Brief Look at How Water Affects Plant Growth
Does Watering Plants with Soft Water Help or Hurt?