How to Assess Garden Drainage
Garden drainage is important for having a healthy garden and for the safety of the structure of your house. A yard where there are drainage problems will be a nightmare in the long-run because all the water-logging can lead to serious damage to the foundation.
If you are planning a new garden it is important that you assess the drainage situation of your garden prior to any planting. You may have picked a site or section or your yard based on the amount of sunlight it receives and how much wind exposure it has. Now you are ready to check the drainage in the area – you should dig a hole of about 12 inches in diameter and makes it twice as much in depth. Now fill the hole with water with your hose till the halfway point. Check the hole periodically and it should ideally be completely drained in a 24 hour period. If there is water after 24 hours it is an indication of drainage issues and you should consider ways to improve the drainage in the area before moving forward with your garden plans.
One of the easiest and most effective ways of improving drainage is to bring in additional dirt or soil into the garden. By creating ups and downs or hills and slopes, you can help the water drain away better. If your garden has extremely hard clay, you can add a few inches of good quality topsoil which has better drainage and is generally easier for plants to establish themselves in during the early seasons. If these changes to the soil seem to be ineffective, then you should consider installing pipes to improve your garden drainage. Properly installed drain pipes will be invisible once the garden is planted and will go a long way in helping move the water away from the garden and the foundation. So, make sure that your pipes are laid in such a way that they direct the water away from the house and its structure.
Sometimes over time, a garden may develop drainage problems. Before you can find a way to fix it you will have to find out exactly what is causing the problem. The best way to do this is during heavy rainfall or immediately after. If you step out into your backyard while it is raining, you will get an immediate understanding of where your drainage problem is starting. If the additional water is puddling below a downspout or if it is accumulating between two raised beds before spreading all over, you know that your solution will involve addressing the drainage situation under the downspout or in the area of the raised beds. By spotting these problem areas early and addressing them immediately you can prevent a serious garden drainage issue. A French drain, drain pipes or tiles, dry wells, effective use of landscape plantings can all be solutions to water drainage problems in the garden. You can use one or a combination of them to help the water drain away quickly and efficiently. Whichever method you choose to remember to follow the natural tendencies of your landscape: water does tend to flow downwards; notice the parts of the garden which are already a little soft and soggy and ensure that you do not add in any way to the water in that area while planning your drainage. In most cases, poor garden drainage is fixable with some thought, planning and digging.
During your assessment, if you find that there is noticeable accumulation under the deck or close to the foundation, you should get professional help promptly. Garden drainage is not just a matter of having some healthy and attractive plants but a significant issue for building safety and stability.