A waterlogged lawn is becoming commonplace in some areas and with the recent bouts of heavy rainfall, many gardeners are noticing a distinct increase in flooded gardens across the country. Changes to the world’s climate have been steadily worsening over the last few years, and there are some reports that heavier and more frequent rainfall will become the norm for the UK in the coming years. With that in mind, homeowners should act sooner rather than later to keep their gardens as protected (and dry!) as possible from the wet weather.
Some of the problems excess water can cause include ‘drowning’ plants and grass, compacted soil, and disease. Plants need oxygen to feed their root system which enables them to grow, but when plants are left to sit in water their growth may be stunted and they begin to wilt. Plus, the plant’s roots often turn black and the surrounding soil has the distinct aroma of rotten eggs. Grass roots also ‘drown’ in the same way – oxygen is unable to reach the root system and the roots begin to die, which turns the grass yellow. Gardeners can help alleviate the problem in plants by building up beds and borders and digging in plenty of organic matter and grit, or by building raised beds filled with well-drained topsoil. Replant damaged plants in a free-draining compost and try not to walk on the soil as this will compact it further. Applying mulch over the base of plants will help to improve drainage as will feeding the lawn and plants during the growing season to encourage regrowth.
Soil is also affected by heavy rainfall which creates boggy lawns that quickly turn to mud. The soil becomes compacted and water refuses to drain away due to the lack of air in the soil. Try not to walk on the lawn if it is waterlogged as this will only worsen the problem and compact the soil even further. It’s also a good idea to aerate the lawn with a mechanical aerator and treat with lime-free sand, which will improve drainage. If you are considering laying a new lawn, it’s worth digging in plenty of organic matter and sand before laying the lawn to prevent drainage problems from arising in the future.
Disease such as fungal diseases and Phytopthora (root rot) is one of the most common causes of root and stem base deterioration and can affect trees, plants and shrubs. Symptoms include sparse or yellowing foliage, branch dieback, and wilting – in many cases the plants slowly decline over a period of time, before eventually dying. Affected plants and soil should be dug up, thrown away, and replaced with new topsoil to prevent spreading the disease.
If your garden is often waterlogged due to living in a high water table area and the soil is mainly clay-based, it may be worth investing in plants that thrive in moist conditions such as Irises, Carex, Primulas, Hostas, Hydrangea macrophylla and Weigela. To prevent future waterlogging, ensure the lawn is aerated every year. It could even be worth considering installing a drainage system in your garden if your budget and time allows.