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The Home Depot

Why is My Garden Waterlogged?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > Why is My Garden Waterlogged?
Why is My Garden Waterlogged?

A waterlogged garden creates a poor impression, leads to muddy homes, and can cause plants and lawn to rot, reducing the curb appeal of your home. As such it is essential for you to understand the reason for the water logging and fix it as soon as possible. Your children, family, and plants will all thank you for a usable garden. There are many potential reasons for a garden to become waterlogged and you need to examine them all before deciding on a viable solution.

  1. 1.Too Much Watering

    One possible reason for your garden becoming waterlogged could be too much watering. Consider reducing the amount of water you are using and see if the problem disappears.

  2. 2.Bad Drainage

    Another reason for a waterlogged garden could be bad drainage. Clay soil does not drain water as easily as sandy soil. Compacted soil too does not allow water to drain away, leading to a waterlogged garden. If the soil in your garden is clay you need to take steps to drain the water by installing drains or pricking, slitting, and spiking. If the soil has become compacted, then you need to first stop walking on it as this will compact it further. You should then take steps to treat the compacted soil so that it again begins to drain freely.

  3. 3.Treating Compacted Soil

    Treating compacted soil will go a long way in ensuring that your garden is not waterlogged. For this you need to add organic manure or compost to the soil as this will increase its ability to drain the water.

  4. 4.Pricking, Slitting, Spiking

    Another way of treating a waterlogged garden and improving its ability to drain is by pricking, slitting, and spiking. For this you can use either a manual tool such as a hand spiking tool or a garden fork or a mechanical device if the garden is larger. You need to wait for the water to drain and then make shallow one inch holes throughout the area that was waterlogged. You can also make deeper six inch holes using a specially designed spiking tool. These holes should then be filled with horticultural sand or proprietary lawn top dressings. This will ensure that the water drains off your garden to deeper level. This needs to be repeated in the autumn every few years.


    By pricking and spiking your garden in the autumn you will be able to ensure that it does not become waterlogged in the winter rains.

  5. 5.How to Drain a Waterlogged Lawn

    Sometimes, clay soil in a garden cannot be treated by just spiking and slitting. Instead, you need to ensure that you install drains to create a path for the excess water to leave your garden. The drains will have to be connected to a larger drain or to a sump that pumps the water away. Most experienced gardeners suggest using a herringbone pattern of drains to ensure that your garden does not become waterlogged. This can be hard work involving plenty of digging, but is worth the effort as you will be able to have a great garden and enjoy using the lawn as well.

  6. 6.Installing Drains

    In order to install drains in your garden to prevent water logging you need to identify the slope. Begin at the top and dig a main drain to the bottom of the garden from this point. Once you have the main drain, dig support drains in a herringbone pattern to across the garden to meet the main drain. These support drains must be spaced at 10 feet intervals if the soil is clay and 25 feet intervals if the soil is loamy.


    Once you have completed the digging, line the drain and trenches with landscape fabric. Fill this with gravel and cover it with the fabric. This will ensure that the gravel does not become clogged with dirt. Next, fill all the trenches with soil. Ensure that the sol is loosely packed and that you do not compact the soil. However, add more soil than the height of the drain to allow for natural compression.


    The main drain must end in a gravel filled shallow pit that helps the water to drain to a lower level in the ground. If this is not possible, you need to drain the water to a sump and pump it out.

  7. 7.Returf

    Once you have installed the drains in your garden you should cover it with grit sand and then either returf it or plant over it as per your landscaping plans.

While laying extensive drains in your garden can be time consuming it will offer a permanent solution to the problem of water logging. By taking the time to lay the drains, you will be able to grow your favorite flowers, have a kitchen garden, and a great lawn that is a fun place for the family to spend time in. It is fairly easy to lay drains in your garden; however, if you are unable to find the time for this, you could always take the help of a professional gardener to complete the work for you.


The garden is an essential part of your home and you need to maintain it properly in order to enjoy the many benefits it can provide. Since plants will not survive in a waterlogged garden, you need to take steps to remedy this situation before you begin your gardening efforts. Once you have solved the issue of water logging, your garden will thrive and add to the beauty of your home. You too will be able to spend enjoyable hours either working in your garden or relaxing in or near it with family and friends.

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