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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 12:30 PM CST
I live in what is usally dry country, but we do get occasional heavy rains and snows. I had a landscaping company dig out 12" of heavy clay soil for a garden bed and add a mixture of topsoil, compost, and a bit of sand. Unfortunately, the landscaping company filled the bed at a level lower than the adjoining land and shrubs. I then planted seven seedlings in the bed and immediately got a heavy rain. The seedlings were drowning, so I pulled them out and potted them. The company came back and added more topsoil and compost to the level of the adjoining shrubs and lawn. We then got another rain that night (and my lawn and underground sprinkler system turned on-it is now shut off). I'm attaching a picture of how it looked as it rained. It did soak in overnight. Do I need to add more topsoil/compost, create some sort of drainage system, or do nothing?

Thumb of 2016-04-21/Barbalee/2dd0df

I would sincrely appreciate any advice you can give me. I have just bought this house and am brand new to gardening. I sure want flower beds!

Thanks in advance,
Barbalee
Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
Apr 21, 2016 1:06 PM CST
It's way too flat around it, and concave in the middle. The middle of the bed where the standing water is, should be a higher mound than what is around it, so that water runs off. If you leave it this way and do not add dirt, you could make a small trench, lengthwise in front of the bushes and dig so that the runoff goes away from the patio (opposite side in the photo). If it were me, I would add more soil to the garden and make it somewhat mounded to help.

The other current problem is that it appears water is running into the bed from the left of the photo. The garden's delineation is too flat, and will allow water to run into the garden and just sit. Something should be blocking the water to the garden. Gravity is not your friend right now, but you can make changes so that it works to your advantage.

Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 1:14 PM CST
Thank you very, very much Alyssa!!
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 21, 2016 1:15 PM CST
The other problem is that the clay layer is still there under the garden. A raised bed might be your best choice.
Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 1:22 PM CST
I thought I'd try to get somebody to construct a raised bed on the next one, but this one has already cost me over 500, so I'm hoping to fix it as best as is possible. Thanks, Daisy...you're very right about that!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Apr 21, 2016 4:37 PM CST
Digging out part of the clay and topping it with lovely soil in effect has created a "bathtub". Since the underlying clay is still there it will continue to prevent the water from draining properly. @RickCorey is good at explaining this. Raised beds Thumbs up might be the easier way to achieve positive results; the other choice would involve some seriously deep digging to get below the clay layer...ugh. Thumbs down
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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 5:22 PM CST
Thanks, @Greene. I heard from Rick Corey on another spot, and he suggested French draining it. I may consider just turning the bed back into a lawn and getting some raised beds done...alternatively, maybe I'll go ahead and plant it to see what happens. Ack! Decisions, decisions. I hadn't thought about the "bathtub" effect...I thought having 12" of good soil would give it enough room to drain since we don't often have much water. Hmmmm.....
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Apr 21, 2016 6:30 PM CST
Don't feel bad. Before I learned (from RickCorey) I had already assisted to murder several fruit trees by unknowingly planting them in "bathtubs". Live and learn worked for me...not such a good outcome for the poor fruit trees.
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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 7:00 PM CST
But, ya know, even with most raised beds, it'd still be sitting on clay soil at the bottom unless it was up on stilts! I'm sure glad I'm not alone with this problem, Greene, but it bothers me that a landscaper created this problem for me!
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 21, 2016 7:05 PM CST
You've spent too much money on this project so find some plants that like living in those conditions. I think your next step with this garden is bog plants.

Daisy
Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 7:07 PM CST
A whole new hunt, Daisy! That could certainly be done...and maybe I should just buy big pots for the ones I've bought for this bed! And I could, alternatively, just put the pots on top of the darn bed!
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Horntoad
Apr 21, 2016 7:19 PM CST
Barbalee said:But, ya know, even with most raised beds, it'd still be sitting on clay soil at the bottom unless it was up on stilts! I'm sure glad I'm not alone with this problem, Greene, but it bothers me that a landscaper created this problem for me!


When you dig a hole in clay the bottom and sides are clay which fills up like a bathtub. When you build a raised bed the bottom is clay, but the bed is above ground level. When the excess water reaches the clay it can leach out of the raised bed through the bottom where it meets the soil and through any seem or hole in the wall of the bed. Also since it is above ground level you won't have water draining from other areas into the bed. It will only receive water that fall directly on the bed from rain or hose.

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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 7:22 PM CST
True, true, Jay (thanks). I'm considering drainage pipes from the sides... but, oh my, more digging! Crying
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horntoad
Apr 21, 2016 7:38 PM CST
I doubt there is much you can do about the "bathtub". But if you could just raise the soil level in that area a few inch so you don't have water draining into it, creating a pool you would probably be ok.
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Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
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MISSINGROSIE
Apr 21, 2016 7:44 PM CST
I may be off on this...but why couldn't you ask those workers come back and dig a 6-8 inch trench 8 inches deep (guesses) around the new bed..and fill with pretty gravel/ rock? This rain is unusual for you..and for the few times it floods the water will run off it will hit the rock first and sink. Plus, it would give the present bed edging a finished look. Eventually, your plantings can overhang it a bit. And, if you hired a business with any suggestion in their ads of landscaping savvy...then I would ask them to come back..trench that..fill that at no cost. It won't cost them hardly anything but labor time. They should have known better. Advised you differently. If that is not possible...then you should raise that up as others have suggested, ...maybe with the cement blocks the big box stores sell..maybe you would just need one row...could you do it yourself?

Last..stock tanks are relatively inexpensive maybe two sitting in front of the shrubbery for now....fill with things you love -- things with height and things that grow over sides and no bending!

I would not do bog situation if the rain is a rare occurrence.
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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 21, 2016 8:31 PM CST
Thank you, Rosie and Jay. The bed was actually after the landscapers did what they thought was raising it...it was definitely worse before.

That's a great idea, Rosie! It combines the idea of French drain drainage and building the bed higher! The rain is fairly rare, so it's not really a bog situation except occasionally. I'll talk to the landscaper--maybe he will agree on that.

I had thought about stock tanks as a way of doing a raised bed. That could definitely be done. I couldn't really do cement blocks by myself in the location it's in, but I've thought about using those for a raised bed in the future.

Thank you~!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Apr 22, 2016 8:36 AM CST
I took another look at the photo you provided. Is that a metal edging I see? It seems to be acting like a dam to hold the water inside the bed. If you could remove the metal edging and dig what they call a "Botanical Edge" it would cost nothing by time and elbow grease; here is a link to an image:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/177540410280640985/

Here is another link to show the method:
http://homesteadgardens.com/blog/how-to-create-natural-edgin...

I learned about this type of edging at the Botanical Garden in Statesboro, Georgia.

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Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Apr 22, 2016 8:37 AM CST
[quote="DaisyI"]You've spent too much money on this project so find some plants that like living in those conditions. I think your next step with this garden is bog plants.
That's what I was thinking! I did that one time with Cannas when I had my bathtub!

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Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 7a)
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Barbalee
Apr 22, 2016 8:41 AM CST
Yup, that's what I'm seeing. This was suggested by Rosie (above) to fill with rock or at least pebbles. Between that and "mounding" the bed itself, this looks like a fabulous solution. I feel sure of it on the lawn side, but I'm not so sure about the patio or shrub sides... Do you think it would work there, too, Greene? This is an absolutely fabulous suggestion! Hurray!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Apr 22, 2016 11:23 AM CST
Lots of good suggestions here!

The "botanical edging" sounds like a great idea. If you had some slope right at the edges of the bed, it would even convey at least a LITTLE surface runoff water around the bed to the lowest spot.

You can prevent a lot of water from running downhill INTO the bed with a deeper trench up-slope from the bed, leading runoff away ... to some other low spot. If you have a low spot.

If you had a spot in your yard LOWER than the bottom of the new bed, you could make a French drain from the bed down to that spot ... but it sounds like that isn't an option. That's the only way I know to give a below-grade bed a non-flooding root zone.

If the soil in that bed is any kind of decent soil, it might be a recoverable investment, if you throw more money at it, or if the company that cheated or sabotaged your yard will make it good (so you don't sue them?)

Maybe they would dig that bed out again, and move the good soil to where it SHOULD have been for a RAISED bed - namely raised ABOVE grade. They might only pile it up, and leave it to you to add raised-bed-walls (wood, cinder block, paving stones on end, pretty boulders).

Maybe let them back-fill the hole with "whatever".
If they did that, they could then move the good soil back on top of "whatever" and your raised bed would be where you originally planned it.

Or line it with plastic and have a "water feature". (You would need to add water during dry spells. )

The company that dug your bed DOWN into non-draining clay should be shot, or at least forbidden to call themselves landscapers. Even if you "seldom" have heavy rain, a bed that drowns every plant "occasionally" is no bed.

I think the most extreme form of re-engineering the yard, (other than totally re-grading everything which would ruin lawns and even some trees, and might not even be possible), would be to dig down wherever the current lowest spot is, make a deep hole there, like a mini-well, and backfill with gravel. Yup, a full-blown French drain. And then trench other beds down TO that new low spot. If its bottom happens to have at least a little "perk", that would help.

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