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Managing Water in Your Garden

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Water is important to your garden, but it can also damage it. 

It rains, and then it rains some more. Whether you’re in the middle of a storm or your part of the country experiences frequent heavy rain, if you have water everywhere, it’s time to take another look at your garden and home landscape. A puddle here or there is all right, but if water is pooling around your home and garden, you need to manage that water so it turns from something that causes damage into something to celebrate and enjoy. 

Why You Need to Manage Water Around Your Home and Garden

Water is critical to a healthy garden, but it can damage your home. Rainfall doesn’t always come in moderation, and when it’s too abundant, the soil becomes saturated and water begins to pool in different places around your home and garden. How can water be a problem in your home landscape?

It can pool near your foundation, making the soil loose. This can lead to a shifting foundation since it’s no longer surrounded by sturdy soil. A shifting foundation can crack, and then the water moves into the cracks, causing both serious structural damage and water damage to your home.

Water can pool on top of your roof, causing leaks and rot over time. If you don’t have an adequate drainage system or your gutters are not protected with a gutter cover, you’ll find that you need to be constantly on top of water flow from the roof to the ground, especially in the rainy times of the year. If your gutters get clogged with debris, the water that was supposed to flow into them can sit on the roof instead.

Water can also move around your garden, pooling and shifting depending on the amount of rainfall you receive. A large puddle of water can be a hazard to people who walk through the garden, and it makes your garden muddy as well. Rapidly moving water can quickly erode your garden soil, sending it down a slope and making you lose flowers, shrubs, and even trees from your garden.

How can you manage water around your home and garden and keep water under control in the long term? 

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Reduce the number of puddles and the amount of erosion around your home. 

Your Home and Your Landscaping Should Work Together

To manage water around your home, you need to take a systems approach to water control. That means that your home and your landscaping should work together.

For example, if your gutters are clogged, they could overflow onto the ground, causing damage to your home foundation. That water can also spill over into the garden as a whole, leading to puddles and erosion. A simple gutter cleaning or gutter cover could eliminate this problem.

When you’re considering what to do next with your excess of water, think about your home and garden as a system. Rather than treating the symptoms, treat the cause of the water problem.

Managing Water During Heavy Rainfall 

When the rain is coming down, what can you do to manage the inflow of water into your garden? Around your home, you can install structures that help move the water from your home and into the garden or a drainage area.

  • Maintain your gutters so that they’re working well, not leaking or tipping away from the house. Add new seamless gutters if your old gutters are full of rust and leaks.  
  • Add a gutter cover or schedule regular gutter cleaning so that water moves easily from the roof to the ground.
  • Make sure that the drainage at your foundation is working well and is not clogged by tree roots or damaged over time. 
  • Decide where the water will go once it leaves your roof. Does it go into the garden, or does it go underground into a pipe? 
  • Consider adding a water catchment system such as a rain barrel or underground water storage, so that you can use that abundance of water at another time of the year. 

After water moves into the garden, you need to control where it goes. 

  • If water moves off the roof into the garden, plan a rain garden to keep that water well-organized, or send it into a pond. According to This Old House, “by building a rain garden, you can divert your gutter water into an attractive planting bed that works like a sponge and natural filter to clean the water and let it percolate slowly into the surrounding soil.”
  • Rather than allowing the water to find its own path, make puddles, and erode the garden, add French drains or swales to move the water slowly around your garden. A swale is a small ditch on contour, water pools there, slows down and then sinks into the soil. Planting just below the swale allows you to prevent erosion and water your garden plants at the same time. 
  • Add new soil or regrade the soil if you find that you’re having trouble with puddles.
  • Add compost and other nutrients to the soil over time to build its capacity to store water. Water will move off or pool on clay soil, which can make it difficult to manage.

Managing Water During a Drought

Oddly enough, many of the techniques that work to keep your home and garden safe during wet times of the year also help during dry times. 

  • Channeling water into certain areas of the garden such as ponds and wetlands helps you focus landscaping around these areas. When it’s dry outside, these areas will naturally be a little less dry, nourishing the plants around them. 
  • Garden structures such as swales not only keep and slow water when it’s raining heavily. They also allow that water to sink into the soil, nourishing the plants near the swale. According to Permaculture Reflections, “once constructed, swales greatly assist the growing of trees by capturing rainwater that would otherwise run off the land, eroding the soil in the process.” 
  • Managing water well can also reduce erosion caused by the interactions between water, air, and soil. If water erodes the soil and exposes it, this can lead to more erosion during dry times as the exposed soil moves into the air or moves because of foot traffic.

Water is extremely important to the health of your garden, but managing water flow in the garden can be a challenge. At Harry Helmet, we focus on helping you manage your home, so that you don’t need to worry about maintenance problems like clogged gutters. Whether you’re looking for a new roof, seamless gutters, or a gutter cover, we can help you create a home that is well-protected from the elements. Schedule a free estimate today. 

Written by Del Thebaud

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