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Old January 5, 2018   #1
SuntannedSwede
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Default Garden Water Drainage Issues

I really wasn't sure which subtopic this fit in to, so I'll put it here:


My garden is situated in a bit of a low spot in my backyard, so water tends to collect in a puddle on the far side. This is bad enough on its own, but my soil is very heavy and holds on to moisture quite well (lots of clay and peat). This last summer was so wet, a quarter of the bed on that far side was completely waterlogged and I lost all of the plants there. I would take a few pictures but there's so much snow at the moment, it would be hard to show how the yard slopes into the bed.

Would building up the sides of the bed with some boards and waterproof material help at all? Or am I stuck buying a water pump and hoping for the best?

Last edited by SuntannedSwede; January 5, 2018 at 01:17 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old January 5, 2018   #2
Rajun Gardener
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If you have raised beds then you need to build the beds higher so water drains. You should really do some dirt work to make the water drain away from the garden. Dig a shallow swale/drainage ditch draining away from the garden and use that dirt to fill in the low spots. I'm not talking about a deep narrow ditch, dig a wide shallow ditch(swale) that makes it easy to mow. If you can't do that then the other option is to install drain pipe. You can install a catch basin at your garden and drain it to a nearby ditch or the closest lower area.

I hope that makes sense to you.
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Old January 5, 2018   #3
greenthumbomaha
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I live in a heavy clay soil area too. My growing partner has a large low area next to the main garden and lost his garlic to rot in the rows nearest the bottom. He has moved on to laying dewitt sunbelt and hilling up the bottom rows for squash and melons. It has worked very well. Garlic and onions are still grown in the upper rows. The melons like the runoff. Win win.

- Lisa
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Old January 5, 2018   #4
Rockandrollin
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Would raised rows with plastic mulch work for you?

Pro's: some of the roots above the standing water level, warms the root zone (zone 3a, brrr!), soil under the mulch tends to stay "fluffy"

Con's: the work to put in the raised rows with plastic mulch
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Old January 5, 2018   #5
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuntannedSwede View Post
Would building up the sides of the bed with some boards and waterproof material help at all? Or am I stuck buying a water pump and hoping for the best?
If you are even considering pumping water away, that tells most of the story right there.

I have a sloping yard, but no collection points. Raised beds in steps worked fine for me.

If your soil does not drain well, then you will always get runoff collecting in your lowest area. You need to get that collection point outside of your garden area (somewhere), or consider growing a cold-hardy strain of rice.

If possible, fill and level the area enough to move the low point out of the garden area. Slotted pipe with gravel underneath might even help more (but it has to drain somewhere).
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Old January 5, 2018   #6
Cole_Robbie
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The raised beds are a good chance to also work on your soil so that at least the soil in the beds drains better. Clay is the worst soil to be either too wet or too dry, at least my clay is that way. Soil improvement helps mitigate the problem - both with organic matter amendments as well as aeration material like perlite or coarse sand.

Dark soil and compost also contain humates, and there is research to indicate that humates affect the internal water regulation of the plant in drought conditions. I haven't found any research to suggest that is true in flood conditions, but from my own observations, I think good soil helps when it is too wet, as well. I can have standing water between rows, even for pepper plants, and it not affect them. Humates are like magic in many respects.

Good luck with your garden.
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Old January 6, 2018   #7
SuntannedSwede
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This bed is in-ground, unfortunately! I hadn't realized just how poorly the yard had been levelled, but the last couple of summers here have been much more rainy than usual. If bringing in some more clay and topsoil is what it will take to redirect drainage, then I guess that's what I will have to do. Thank you all for your help! I will post an update come springtime
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Old January 6, 2018   #8
KarenO
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pictures would help but I am wondering if there is any possibility of relocating the garden within the lot? I think working with instead of fighting against what you have is the best thing. You can improve the drainage in that corner and plant thinks that tolerate wetter conditions and move or build a new garden on higher ground
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Old January 6, 2018   #9
rhines81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuntannedSwede View Post
This bed is in-ground, unfortunately! I hadn't realized just how poorly the yard had been levelled, but the last couple of summers here have been much more rainy than usual. If bringing in some more clay and topsoil is what it will take to redirect drainage, then I guess that's what I will have to do. Thank you all for your help! I will post an update come springtime
I don't know how large your plot is, but here's where I started several years ago, but as I said I did not have a water collection point - it's a continuous slope. I took some humps out and raised the low point, as I recall it was about a 2 foot elevation difference in about a 40 foot run. If you can get the collection point out of your garden area then maybe you can also use the same approach. More control over your soil quality this way too!
http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=36285
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Old January 7, 2018   #10
BigVanVader
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Id convert it to a hugelkultur bed. I'm doing the same thing at the bottom of my garden area. In rainy season water will stand a few inches deep. I don't grow anything there but eventually would like too. Soil high in organic matter will act as a sponge and hold a huge amount of water. Plus with the beds raised so high they wont be waterlogged even if it is a wet year. After 3-5 years the wood will break down to the point that your issues should be resolved. https://www.permaculture.co.uk/artic...ts-hugelkultur
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Old January 7, 2018   #11
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The surrounding water will become a blessing.

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Old January 7, 2018   #12
BigVanVader
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I should add that all the wood will be a nitrogen sink, so either supplement with manure/ferts or simply wait a year or 2. This is why I am converting mine before I need to use it.
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Old January 7, 2018   #13
SueCT
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Not sure how large your garden is, but what I did might work for you, also. I basically used stones to make a level raised bed so water no longer rolls down the hill and off the garden, and there is no low point for water to pool in. Works quite well for me.



[IMG]IMG_1786 by Susan Albetski, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old January 8, 2018   #14
SuntannedSwede
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If I had been thinking I would have taken some pictures before the snows came, sounds like you guys got a fair bit yourself this year Karen! Well hey there's a thought, I'll have to look into those hugelkultur beds.

Boy those raised beds look like they took a ton of work, but they look fantastic- thanks you guys. There are two areas I have identified as good areas to redirect excess water. They are about as low if not slightly lower than the bed. I guess it would end up as a combination in-ground/raised bed, which would be nice because I couldn't dig as deeply as I had hoped and this will add to the soil depth (once I order some more). Then once the sides are built it will be a matter of sloping the ground away from the garden and the house and into the ditches.
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Old January 10, 2018   #15
SueCT
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The wall is really nice to sit on to pull a few weeds or just relax a few minutes while working outside. It did take a little work but not as much as it might appear. I did it by adding stones each year and then adding more compost to fill it up. So I started at the lowest spot and just leveled a small area at a time, like 3-4 feet long by 12 inches wide at a time. Then I stacked the rocks. No landscape fabric or gravel or anything behind it because I wanted to keep it simple. I think I only laid 2 levels of stones along the short side and half way along the long side the first year but it was an improvement. A new row of stones each year, no need to level or dig anything, just add them on top of the old ones. Nothing is cemented so if I want add more, I would just lift off the cap stones, stack another layer and put the top stones back on. Most of the work is done in the first year, but you can even stretch that over two years or more to make it easier. I usually have to work alone, so I take my time. Boy do I wish I had done the grass trim around the rocks before taking those pics, lol. I would like to at least give the illusion that my yard and garden are always pristine.
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