It is not unusual to find that you have diverse soil conditions in your garden. That is my own experience, I have bone dry soil in some areas and I can’t dig without a shovel and then other areas are very wet.  By far for me, the more challenging is gardening in wet soil. When I say wet soil I mean areas that never dry out and at times even have standing water. If you dig a hole in your flower bed about one to two feet deep and water collects in the hole overnight than you definitely have a problem with wet soil. While this can get a great obstacle, the good news is that there are solutions.

When you have really wet soil, the soil is robbed of oxygen and causes the plant roots to rot. There are several things that can cause the soil to be this wet and they include:

  • The main soil component is clay.
  • You have a high water table in your area.
  • You have a location where water is diverted and collects as a result of natural contour or man-made drainage solutions.

If you find you have too much clay than 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 the soil isn’t your problem, it might be there is a high water table then you may need to consider installing raised flower beds which will elevate the soil level above the water table or possibly install a drainage system that can move the water out of the space. This type of 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 or you could solve one problem but create another.

My own problem has historically been a combination of clay soil and the grading of my yard by the homebuilder in an effort to channel the water away from the foundation. I’ve tried improving the soil and attempted to divert the water elsewhere but can to the realization that the best solution has been to work with it rather than try to change it. Today this is known as a rain garden and it involves 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 all of which thrive in these wet conditions. These plants have actually at times been underwater during and after heavy rains and it hasn’t bothered them a bit!

I selected these plants because they are native plants. Other plants you can try are Ferns if the location is shady or Joe-Pye Weed if you are in the need of something that is taller. My solution to this problem and other trouble spots is to “make lemonade from a lemon”. It can be expensive and frustrating to change what Mother Nature has put in place and often it is much easier and to come up with a creative solution 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.  

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  • Apr 10


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