How To Fix Garden Drainage Problems?

Drainage in the garden can be a problem, can’t it? Many plants will refuse to flourish if they get their feet too wet for too long. How to fix garden drainage problems? It’s an issue! Luckily, there are a good few solutions out there that you can try – let’s have a look at some of the best options.

How Do You Fix A Waterlogged Garden?

How Do You Fix A Waterlogged Garden

It’s a real pain when your garden turns into a massive swamp, isn’t it? Most of us have to deal with this at some points during the winter, but when it’s all year round it can become a bit of a drag.

Luckily, there are a great many things you can do – and most of these options don’t involve digging the whole lot up and starting again!

Generally, adding a few bits and pieces to the soil is enough to solve the problem – in more serious cases you might have to work out a more permanent drainage solution.

  • Aeration. Allowing the soil to become aerated will help any excess water to drain away and prevent problems with waterlogging.
  • Add mulch. You may not think that adding material to a soggy garden will help, but mulch will break down over time and give more substance to the soil.
  • Plant boggy plants. This is a great and very simple solution – if you have a wet garden, plant things that like to grow in wet conditions!
  • Collect rainwater. Waterlogged gardens are caused by an excess of water, so catching it before it gets to the garden is a good solution.
  • Dig a French drain. This will help channel the water away so that it drains, rather than pooling in your garden.
  • Add a soakaway. (You can do this whether or not you are installing drainage trenches.)
  • Start again. Obviously this is a last resort, but if you have tried everything and nothing works, digging everything out and adding better drainage from the ground up may be your only option.

Here is an article talking about drainage in gardens, and the best ways to improve it.

What To Add To Garden Soil For Better Drainage?

If digging drainage ditches and collecting the rainwater doesn’t help, you may wish to consider what you can add to your garden to improve the drainage.

  • Coarse grit. Mixing a good layer of grit into your soil can help it immensely if you have the type of heavy, sticky soil that collects water.
  • For slightly lighter soil that still hangs on to too much moisture, a dose of sand will cure a lot of its ills.
  • Well rotted compost. Adding good organic matter to your soil will not only provide a good lot of nutrients, it will also give the soil a bit more substance.
  • Similarly to compost, mulch will add a bit more aeration to your soil, thus aiding drainage.
  • Fork it. Simply digging the tines of a fork into the soil will allow it to drain better, as you will be slightly breaking up the soil.
  • Plant trees. Adding trees and shrubs that suck up a lot of water will do wonders for your waterlogged garden.
  • Marshy plants. If you can’t beat em, join em! If your garden is determined to stay wet, plant things that thrive in wet conditions.

If you have a lot of lawn that gets waterlogged, it is trickier to add soil improvers – after all, you don’t really want to dig up a whole pile of lawn!

However, this may be your only option, unless you want to be walking across puddles for six months of the year.

In this case, you may have to dig up the whole thing, install some drainage or add some grit or sand, then start again with grass seed or turf.

How Do I Make A Garden Soakaway?

A soakaway is basically a big hole, that is connected to a garden drainage system such as a French drain, that allows the water to drain away from areas where it is not needed.

Before you make your garden soakaway, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  1. If your garden is on heavy clay, chances are your soakaway will not work, as clay does not allow water to pass through it.
  2. Situate the soakaway at least 5 metres away from the house, to protect the foundations from being damaged.
  3. Work out the size of the soakaway before you start digging, so that you can be sure of having the right size for the size of your garden.
  4. Make sure the soakaway is positioned at the lowest part of the garden, to ensure that the water will naturally head for it.
  5. Now, to dig a soakaway!
  6. Having worked out how big your soakaway needs to be and where it needs to be positioned, start digging. Measure out your hole beforehand so that you know how much you have to go.
  7. Once the hole is finished, line it with heavy duty landscaping fabric. This will prevent the soil from clogging up the gravel.
  8. If you are connecting to a French drain, connect the trenches so that they flow into the hole.
  9. Fill the hole with heavy gravel (around 20mm) or clean builder’s rubble until it is filled to about 5” from the top.
  10. Wrap the fabric over the top of the gravel.
  11. Fill the hole with topsoil, overfilling slightly as it will settle with time.
  12. Wait 2-3 weeks, then sow grass seed or lay down turf to cover the soil.

If you like visual instructions, here is a video about how to construct a simple soakaway pit, using a crate:

Final Words

Now that you have your garden drainage problems sorted out, you can get on with growing the best roses, biggest vegetables, and herbs worthy of a Michelin star restaurant!

Having a soggy garden can be a bit disheartening, but thankfully there are lots of solutions you can try to fix it.

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