WE have experienced some very heavy rain showers in the last few weeks that may have spoiled the look of some areas as plants that end up in soggy wet ground lose a lot of their vibrancy especially summer bedding plants.

You may have noticed water gathering in parts of the garden that doesn’t normally when rain is exceptionally heavy. It is important to check all drains are clear of debris. Soil, leaves and debris often get washed in to drains causing issues with blocked drains and this can have an effect on other parts of the garden.

Soil also becomes more compacted as the weight of the water blocks air space movement in the soil. It is in these air channels that roots survive and grow, if these air channels spend too much time under water this eventually leads to soil saturation and plants are unable to survive with the roots being devoid of air.

If our soils around plants have become too compacted it will have a detrimental effect on the growth of the plant and if they are standing in water it might be an idea to move to a drier part of the garden once the weather allows.

Working on the soil when it is in a saturated condition serves no benefit as we only cause smearing of the soil when we insert forks or spades and this further affects the structure of the soil. It is best waiting until the soil has returned to a more moist condition before undertaking any soil digging. We often recommend digging the garden over before winter this is to allow the weather to break the soil structure over winter and this is done usually with the help of frost but until now we have experienced very little in the way of frost therefore it might be an idea to turn over soil again once the weather has improved and allows work to be undertaken.

Another effect of the heavy rain and flooding is a loss of nutrients from the soil as a result of being under water or the continuous heavy rain depletes garden soils of nutrients, consideration should be giving to adding a soil conditioner and some nutrients back in to the soil once we feel we are out of the grip of the incessant heavy rain.

It may be necessary to install drains to assist with water in the garden, this could be in the style of a gravel drain to prevent rain water gathering in one particular area of the garden or simply to slow the flow of water across the entire garden. It is important before installing a gravel drain that you are aware of any underground services or existing drains.

Gravel drains can be six inch wide or even as wide as twelve inches and twelve inches deep and filled with gravel, this type of drain is not ideal through the lawn but if it can be at the edge of the lawn or in a discreet area of the garden it can assist with slowing the flow of water in very wet areas and allow gravity to drain the water held in the drain. This type of drain could be spaced out across the area that water flows in the garden, this helps during the heavy rain that if the first drain is passed over due to the flow then the other drains will catch the water further down.

It is best to avoid any use of the lawn at this time as any walking or work on the lawn will compact the soil further and as mentioned earlier compacted soils make root growth difficult. Once again when weather permits consider adding air in to the lawn by spiking or pushing in a garden fork to allow water to drain away from the surface and by allowing air in to the soil this also makes for healthier stronger roots.

Paul Brannan