Water-Proofing Your GardenColin Campbell-Preston
Since the Met Office started naming UK storms last November, we have already rattled through Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank. Many of these storms caused significant devastation throughout the UK, with many homes flooding and gardens facing ruination.
Whilst some properties and areas faced such extreme levels of rainfall that the following tips would have been a redundant exercise – many of us experienced only superficial damage, which could have been easily avoided. So, as this winter’s rainfall won’t be the last time the UK suffers lashings of rain, we have put together a handful of tips to help protect your garden from anything more extreme than a moderate downpour.
Obviously keeping an eye on the weather forecast can help you identify any upcoming storms which may cause a problem or two for the garden – allowing you to act swiftly and accordingly. It is possible on a small scale to protect your special plants by covering them. The best way to do this is by using a bell cloche.
At Capital Gardens, we also stock a selection of covers in different shapes and sizes which can be used to cover plants which hate having continuous wet foliage for example many of the Sedums , Salvias and lavender.
Raise the Flowerbeds
If your flowerbeds are located at the lowest level of your garden, then naturally heavy rainfall will head towards them and potentially start to flood the roots. Raising the flowerbed can help alleviate the risk of flooded roots – lifting the whole plant above the oncoming water level. This YouTube video offers an in-depth guide to raising the flowerbed easily and affordably.
Of all the tips to water-proof the garden, this is perhaps the most difficult – requiring a certain degree of skill (unless you hire an expert). To install your own drainage system, the first step is to consider where the excess water will be drained and delivered. Nearby ditches, streams and soakaways are suitable locations to serve as a drained rain destination. However you do need to consider the effects of any drainage on neighbouring properties as you can be held responsible if you cause problems on adjoining or even nearby ground.
You’ll have to invest in porous drainage pipes from a building and construction merchant (Jewson have a good selection) and bury these about 45cm under the surface of your lawns and flower beds – leading towards the ditch, stream or soakaway. There are different lay outs you can use but drains are usually laid out in a herring bone pattern, the distance between pipes and size of pipes will differ. A general rule is the heavier the soil the closer the pipes are laid.
If you are contemplating a drainage scheme it is better to do this in the summer months, as it is easier to bury the pipes when the ground is dry.
Wet Weather Weeding
The wet weather also offers opportunities as well as pitfalls – providing the perfect time to complete tasks such as weeding. When most soils are damp they become more malleable, weeding is easier as taproots slip out of the earth – rather than weeding when the turf is dry causing the stem to inevitably snap. Leaving the taproot in the soil will only lead to the weed returning in due time.
Be aware though not to weed when soils are too wet, basically saturated. A simple test is to put a small amount of soil in your hand a squeeze into ball, if water drips out easily then soil is saturated. Weeding in too wet soil is tiring as it is incredibly difficult to dislodge the soil from roots and one tends to damage the soil structure by placing any weight on the ground.
To help you enjoy fruitful gardening throughout the colder, wetter months – Capital Gardens can help you stock up with all the important bulbs, tools and accessories. For more information about our three garden centres and online store, visit our homepage or call us now on 0208 348 5054.