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How To Cope With A Waterlogged Garden...

February 15th 2013
By: Melanie

The recent cold weather has left our gardens in a pretty poor state and melting snow has caused many of them to become waterlogged, which can be very damaging for plants, especially shrubs and fruit trees that cannot stand to be immersed in water as they are unable to put out new roots as quickly as perennials. When plants become waterlogged they literally drown, as water fills the air particles in the soil and stops the oxygen from getting to the roots.
 If your garden is waterlogged you might notice these various symptoms:

•  Yellowing or drooping leaves, which drop off

•  Saturated soil - if the soil is completely saturated and puddles are visible,

•  When the plants are lifted up the roots appear black, soft and soggy,

•  The grass is boggy

• The soil turns to mud easily.
So how do I prevent my garden from becoming waterlogged?

The first thing to do is to try and avoid walking on the wet soil as this might compact the earth, dig up water logged plants and put them into plant pots, remove any damage caused by the water and replant in free-draining compost. Use a fork or a spike to make small holes in your grass which will help the water to soak away more easily.
If you would like to reduce the damage caused by a waterlogged garden, you can apply mulch over the root area of plants, feed them during the growing season to encourage new root growth, if you have clay soil try and mix it with free-draining compost and build raised beds filled with well-drained top soil.

Sometimes after severe water damage, plants can seem as though they have survived and quite often it’s not until the following season that the full extent of damage can become apparent, and they die off.  So if your shrubs have been waterlogged for some period of time this winter, it would be a good idea to take cuttings. Future consideration, where possible would be to plant trees and shrubs on higher ground, where the soil might drain away better. Also by pruning ornamentals right back it will give plants a better chance of survival, as then they have less weight to support.
If you have a continual flooding problem in your garden, then you might need to re-think your planting, try and grow plants that love boggy conditions.