Using Drainage To Improve Your Garden Soil

By: Gambo Navi

Too much drainage in sandy soil can be an annoyance, you need to water repeatedly in dry weather and it is necessary to build up a water-holding structure by adding as much organic matter as you possibly can. Faulty drainage is a lot more than merely a nuisance, it can be a plant killer. Stagnant water laying around the roots starves them of air.

Helpful bacterial activity is delayed and harmful organisms flourish. Toxic gases build up and the overall result is poor growth in the beginning followed by the eventual death of the plants if conditions do not improve.

Poor drainage is caused by heavy topsoil. Water moves very slowly through clay, so the solution is to enrich the structure by cultural means. impeded drainage is a more serious problem, as the downward movement of water is not just slowed down - it is blocked.

There are three prime causes:

Non-porous rock below the soil, a sub-surface pan below the topsoil or a high water table in the area (the level at which porous rock is saturated with water). Soils with impeded drainage are waterlogged for long periods in the winter time, so some remedial action is essential.

Either of the following methods mentioned below may solve your problem. It all is dependent upon what difficulty that you find yourself having to face as well as the type of soil you have.

Cultural Aids:
Poor drainage caused by a higher clay content in the topsoil can be improved by double digging in the autumn. Under no circumstances should the rough clods be broken Up at the time of digging - leave them to be crumbled by the action of wind and frost during the winter months.

Double digging can also break up a thin soil pan therefore permitting water to drain through. Sometimes the sub-surface pan is simply too thick to be penetrated with a normal garden fork, instead use a pickaxe or steel bar and sledgehammer. In some cases the pan can't be broken. You will probably then have to use a man-made drainage system or else raise the level with brought-in-soil.

The crumbs created by digging provide temporary relief, but you must build up a permanent crumb structure by adding heavy dressings of organic matter at regular intervals. Add calcium in the form of lime or chalk if the soil is acid - use gypsum if it is neutral or alkaline.

If the causes of poor drainage is either non-porous rock near the surface or an abnormally high water table, a man-made aid is usually suggested. Laying drains is a costly, complicated and time consuming job, it is often better to tackle the issue by raising the soil level. Buy good quality topsoil and add it to the whole surface if the garden is small or use it to fill raised beds.

Artificial Aids:
A tile drainage system consists of a herringbone pattern of plastic or earthen ware tile drains. A rubble drainage system is made in the same way, however the drain pipes are left out.

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I have been a keen gardener for many years now, but no one has all of the answers. If I ever need help I always use a company called Landscaper London. They are always willng to offer help and advice as and when I ask them for it.

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