The Q&A Archives: Garden drain issues

Question: We just bought our first house a few months back, and in order to add some instant curb appeal I planted a small garden right in front of the house. I have some hibacus, lillies and a few ground shrubs. A few weeks back when it was extremely hot I began watering the garden twice a day, after about a week of this we found that the concrete (of our slab house) was moist. I stopped watering and we dug up the area alongside the house and we then sealed the concrete. Luckily nothing was damaged however in order to help prevent this what should I do about my garden? I hate to waste all these flowers but the water isn't draining away! Is there any easy fix to this? This garden is basically completely flat... would it help if I put in a raised bed?

Answer: I think you're right in being concerned about excess moisture next to your foundation. It isn't a good idea to plant too closely to the foundation, both for moisture related problems and because some roots can compromise the concrete. Most landscapers suggest keeping plants 3-5' away from the foundation. You should be able to plant low-water use plants close to the house, but you'd be taking a chance by putting water-lovers there. I would incorporate a slope (by raising the bed) to help facilitate drainage. You might also consider installing a curtain drain close to the foundation. A simplistic overview is to dig a trench, line it with gravel, set a PVC pipe with perforations all around and cover it with more gravel. This will give excess water a place to go, but you'll need to direct it away from the foundation so the excess water can drain.

You may also be able to cut down on the amount of water required by the plants if you amend the soil with organic matter. Compost (or aged-manure) mixed into the soil will help it drain quickly, but will also help hold just enough moisture to keep the plant roots happy. This should result in healthier plants with less water usage.

Hope these suggestions are helpful.

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