If your yard is anything like mine then you probably have different soil conditions in different sections of your garden. My garden crosses almost the entire spectrum from areas that are bone dry with soil as hard as a rock to sections that have soil that I can work in even without a shovel. The biggest challenge I’ve faced however, is gardening in wet soil. When I say wet soil I mean soil that never dries out and at times even has standing water in the flower beds. If you dig a hole in your flower bed about one to two feet deep and water collects in the hole overnight then you probably have a problem with wet soil. Over the years I’ve attempted several solutions to this challenge with varying levels of success and I thought I might share some of them with you.
The problem with really wet soil is that it robs the soil of oxygen and causes the plant roots to simply rot. There are several things that can cause the soil to be this wet including soil whose main component is clay, a high water table in that area or even just an area where water is diverted and collects as a result of natural contours or man-made drainage solutions. If your problem is as a result of too much clay then one solution is to improve the soil with organic matter such as compost in an attempt to break up the clay and improve the structure and oxygen content of the soil.
If your problem isn’t the soil itself but the fact that there is a high water table then you may want to consider installing raised flower beds which will raise the soil level above the water table or possibly install a drainage system with pipes that can be buried underground and help move the water out of the space. A drainage system can be very disruptive to the planting area and rather expensive to install. You also need to be sure that you direct the water to an appropriate place. You could solve your problem but create a problem for someone else if you don’t do this properly.
My problem has historically been a combination of clay soil and grading of my yard by the homebuilder to channel the water away from our foundation. I’ve tried improving the soil and attempted to divert the water elsewhere but I’ve found that the best solution has been to “Roll with It”! What I mean by this is finding plants that thrive in these types of conditions and creating a garden with this in mind. I’ve used a combination of river rock that gives the appearance of a stream bed along with plants such as Astible, Cardinal Flower, Bee Balm and Japanese Iris that actually thrive in these wet conditions. These plants have actually at one time or another been underwater during heavy rains and this hasn’t bothered them a bit!
My solution to this problem and other trouble spots in my yard is to “make lemonade from a lemon”. It is often very expensive and almost futile to sometimes change what Mother Nature has put in place. I’ve found it is much easier and in some ways confidence building to come up with creative solutions to a tough problem. If you have had a problem area in your yard that took a creative solution to solve why not share your story on our Facebook page so that others can benefit from your experience.