It’s a little swampy in your garden, or perhaps it’s more like a lake. Whether your gutters have overflowed or you’ve suffered from an actual flood, your garden may have standing water, eroded soil, and damaged plants. Here’s how to turn your soggy garden into a livable outdoor space once again.
Take a Deep Breath
Before you panic about your flooded garden, wait until the water recedes to assess the situation. While plants need water to live, when roots are in water for a long time, the plants can die. Toxins can build up in very wet soils, and excessive water makes it harder for plants to grow. Fungi that are dangerous to plant health also thrive in wet soil. However, if you have hardy, well-established perennials that are in their winter dormant period and flooding has not lasted long, your plants may survive. Most plant casualties from temporary flooding are vegetables and seedlings.
If your plants are very muddy, you may need to wash them off so that their leaves can continue to photosynthesize. Do this after the water has drained from your garden so that you don’t add any more water to the waterlogged soil.
Watch your plants for signs of stress. Plants may have yellow leaves, wilted leaves, or early fall color because they are stressed from having too much water.
Restructure Your Garden Space
Before you replant, consider how you can prevent flooding from happening again. To do this, you need to look at the causes of the flood. Did it occur because of something that happened around your home?
Perhaps your gutters were clogged and water overflowed onto the landscaping around the gutters. You need to clean your gutters more often or add gutter covers to deal with this problem.
What about the drainage in your garden as a whole? Do you have french drains that can help water move into the soil and away from areas that often get wet? Can you add texture to your landscape, adding swales that move water along a pathway and allow it to nourish the plants while redirecting water away from the areas that don’t need any more water?
Give Your Soil What It Needs
If flooding happens a lot due to normal rainfall, you may have to amend your soil. Clay soils do not drain well. If your soil contains a lot of clay, consider adding some sand to encourage drainage. If your soil is tough and compacted, add mulch on top of the soil or add compost to increase its organic content.
A garden with a lot of clay soil, rock, or heavy, compacted soil is easier to work if you add raised beds. You can build the soil that you need in the beds, and you don’t need to worry about the soil underneath.
After flooding, fertilize your garden with a natural fertilizer to replace nutrients that have washed away. Add mulch or organic matter to add slow release fertility to the soil.
Embrace the Water
If you live in a climate that’s very wet and you frequently have puddles in your garden, you can work on your soil and your garden space. However, you can also choose to live with some of the puddles and turn them into intentional wetland spaces. If there’s a large dip in your garden and it’s too difficult to rework it into a regular garden space, turn it into a pond or other water feature. Add fish, wetland plants, and a bench, and turn your problem into a focal point of your garden.
The same applies to garden areas that are slightly damp most of the time. Instead of letting them get muddy, plant water-loving plants such as irises and columbines. Since rain gardens are often ideal for wet areas near a path or driveway, ensure that any garden plants will not disturb concrete or brick paths or drain pipes that you’ve installed to move water. For example, willow trees love water, but they’re notorious for their ability to damage concrete.
Create a Portable Garden
If you experience frequent flooding for reasons outside your control, consider adding annual plants to your garden. That way, flooding won’t damage your more pricey perennials. Annuals look lovely in window boxes, in planters on a deck, and in portable containers that you can easily move if the water moves in.
At Harry Helmet, we want you to have a beautiful, safe home. We’re here to help you keep your home safe from winter storms and spring floods. With our gutter covers, you can improve your home drainage system and help ensure that your home is working at its peak. Contact us today to learn more about gutter guards.