Drainage - Knowledgebase Question

Platte City, Mi
Question by Thegr8dad
September 27, 2009
I just planted a perennial garden. I adden what I thought was sufficient enriched soil to a garden spot of almost all clay. I have found that the amendment wasn't enough. What can I add/do now to increase water absorbtion?


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Answer from NGA
September 27, 2009

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Clay soils can take years of incorporating organic matter to turn it into good garden loam. 4-5 inches spread over the top of the soil and dug in to a depth of 8-10 inches is a good start. Then, after planting, spread another 2-3 inches over the bare soil between the plants. At the end of the growing season dig this into the soil and replace it with 2-3 inches of fresh organic matter. Repeat for several years and you'll eventually end up with nice loamy soil. Since it will take several years to improve your soil and right now it is too soggy, you may need to install a curtain drain, which is really nothing more than a gravel filled trench alongside the bed which will give the excess water a place to go. Choose the lowest side of the bed, dig the trench there and fill it with gravel. 18 inches deep by 6 inches wide should do it. If you need to dig in a lawn area you can fill the trench to within 3 inches of the soil level and then add 3 inches of sand so the lawn can root in the sand. Once it grows in, you will hardly know the curtain drain is there, except that the flower bed will not be as soggy as it is now.

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