Home or community gardening is gaining popularity worldwide. According to a study by the National Gardening Association (NGA), over 30% of American households are actively engaged in growing their own food. The same is happening in the UK where more people are gardening for food and to combat pollution. Unfortunately, poor drainage can deter many from realizing the full potential of gardening.
What Is Drainage?
Drainage is the process by which water moves or passes through the soil. Gardens with poor drainage can create an environment that is nearly impossible for plants to grow. As such, it is important to always check drainage in your garden if you want to maximize your garden.
Why Drainage Matters
Plant roots need to breathe. Poorly drained soils often get waterlogged causing air pockets in the soil to be compact with liquid and suffocate the root systems. This reduces the amount of oxygen available for microbial population and adversely affects root development.
As oxygen levels reduce, carbon dioxide levels increase, which creates an unbalanced microenvironment and promotes the growth of bad bacteria. With time, the plant roots start to rot or develop fungal or bacterial diseases.
Poorly drained soils also reduce nutrient bioavailability by stopping or reducing the rate of decomposition of organic matter. As a result, root development can be stunted and the entire health and development of the plant restricted.
Factors Affecting Soil Drainage
Soils are comprised of different amounts of clay, sand, gravel, and silt. Soils with high amounts of gravel drain faster than soils high in clay and are prone to soil erosion. Most soils are usually a blend of all the constituents mentioned above. Therefore, understanding your soil type can help you choose the right corrective measures.
Healthy soils are rich in organic matter or humus. These nutrients and life are usually derived from decaying animal and plant matter.
The amount and source of organic material in your soil can affect the drainage. For instance, if your soil contains densely packed roots, it will not drain well.
Apart from having organic matter, healthy soils should also be teeming with worms, healthy bacteria, beneficial fungi, and macrobiotic species. If all these components are present in healthy ratios, they will develop natural aeration in your plant roots and assist in proper drainage.
Millions of people use containers to garden. Plastic containers without drainage holes have poor drainage and this also applies to wooden and clay containers with extra sealing.
How To Improve Drainage
Minor lawn and garden drainage problems are typically caused by clay soil. That explains why you have standing water after heavy rainfall for a few hours. Minor issues can be corrected by improving clay soil.
For more serious garden and lawn drainage issue, you may have to find other ways to improve soil drainage because you can have water standing for several days. These problems are usually caused by low grading, extremely compacted soil, layers of hard materials under the soil and high water table. Here are a few solutions.
Install Land Drains
If your lawn or garden is very bad, you need to install land drains. This involves digging trenches in your lawn and installing perforated land drain from trusted dealers like easymerchant.co.uk.
Water will drain through your lawn or garden into a perforated land drainage pipe and channeled away from your garden to another area.
It is worth noting that some bylaws may prohibit you from channeling the water into public sewer systems, so you have to find a suitable area. For instance, you can channel the water to an area without waterlogging issues.
Grow More Plants
Growing more plants can be an inexpensive and sure way to improve drainage in your garden. That means finding plants that can survive in wet conditions. Sadly, most plants can’t tolerate waterlogged conditions.
Some plants you can consider include maples, ferns, mint, willows, bee balm, Cornus alba, filipendula, and more. These plants can thrive in boggy or wet conditions and can play a huge role in removing excess moisture from the ground.
Improve Soil Drainage
Improving your soil permeability can solve drainage issues in your garden. You can do that by digging in lots of organic matter. Several studies show that soil with high amounts of organic matter tends to allow water to drain through more easily. You can get a constant supply of organic matter by making your own compost.
Manage Surface Water Run-Off
Incorporating sloping surfaces within your garden can improve drainage. It ensures that surface water is channeled to an area where it can be easily disposed of. However, this can be expensive because you may have to hire a mini excavator.
Other solutions to consider include:
- Using bark chippings
- Building raised beds
- Spiking your lawn
- Installing artificial grass
Drainage plays a significant role in gardening. Without proper management, you will not maximize your outdoor space.