Front gardens benefit from proximity to road drainage systems, but backyards often have chronically wet areas. Moisture flows toward the lowest-lying land, and that could be a corner in your garden. Compacted clay adds to the problem, trapping water in densely textured soil and eliminating oxygen from the root zone, causing plants to be unable to process nutrients and have weak and spindly growth.
If water puddles in spring and after heavy rain, and soil is constantly saturated during summer in your garden, poor drainage is the problem. This can be improved by installing weeping tiles along the outside perimeter of a planting bed—an easier project than it sounds.
However, the first line of defence is to select specimens that perform well in moist conditions, in addition to creating interest throughout the growing season. Bear in mind such plants can behave dramatically, wilting quickly when deprived of water; they like consistent moisture all season. Drooping flowerheads and limp or collapsing stems are distress signs indicating water is needed immediately.
- Before planting, amend the soil with organic materials and five-millimetre stone grit to improve drainage.
- Increase air circulation and reduce fungal diseases by limbing up nearby trees, thinning out overhanging foliage and removing one-third of the canes in overgrown shrubs. Check weekly for diseased foliage: collect and dispose of it in the trash (do not compost).
- Use only granular fertilizers, not concentrated water-soluble solutions. For transplanter fertilizer, use a granular product with a higher middle number (phosphorus), or scatter a handful of bonemeal into each planting hole.
- Even in chronically wet spots, monitor the soil moisture every week to determine if plants require water. If the wet area dries out in mid- to late summer, you’ll need to irrigate regularly until fall.
Have a wet corner in your yard? Plant our sophisticated corner bed!