The importance of good garden drainage

Creating your dream garden is exciting and many people can’t wait to get stuck in. As a result, they begin planting without considering their soil’s structure or how it drains – an oversight that could literally make or break your garden.

Unfortunately, on the face of it, drainage isn’t exciting. But the difference it can make to your plants should get you excited! That’s because while all plants need water, that water must drain away.

Ask any gardener or landscaper and they’ll tell you that one of the easiest ways to kill a plant is to over water it. This is obviously difficult to do when the plant is growing in gravel, but it’s very easy to do when it’s growing in clay.

Poor drainage manifests itself in several ways:

  • A persistently boggy or water-logged lawn
  • Plants that wither or die after heavy rain could be drowning in excess water
  • Undermined foundations due to soil erosion

How to test your garden drainage

A simple way to test your garden’s drainage is to dig a small hole (approximately 6 inches in diameter and 1 foot deep) somewhere in your garden. Choose a spot where you suspect drainage might be poor, like a place where plants continually struggle to thrive.

Now fill the hole to the top with water and let it drain away. Then, fill the hole to the top again with water and this time measure how long it takes to drain away. Less than 3 hours and your soil is okay. More than 4 hours and chances are you’ve got a drainage problem which you’ll need to address.

In next week’s blog post, we’ll show you how to improve the drainage in your garden and give your plants and flowers the best possible chance of thriving.

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