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What Should I Know About Garden Drainage?

By Erika Peterson
Updated: May 17, 2024

As an essential element of any garden, proper garden irrigation not only includes sprinklers and drip systems, but also garden drainage. Proper garden drainage allows for a beautiful garden area and a structure that is free of foundation damage. Garden drainage ensures the heath and prosperity of your plants and the safety of your home.

Prior to beginning any new garden project, it is important to check the area’s drainage. In fact, it is best if a garden area is chosen based on a specific location’s drainage as well as environment. Once you have chosen the best location for your garden based on sunlight and shade, the best thing to do is to check drainage of the area before you plant your garden.

Checking the garden drainage of a perspective area is a relatively easy task that is as simple as digging a hole. The needs to be an even shape with a depth that is twice the width of the hole, try digging a hole that is 12 inches x 12 inches x 24 inches (about 30 cm x 30 cm x 60 cm). Next, fill the large hole halfway with water from your garden hose and wait 24 hours. The next day the hole should be empty. If it is, you have found an ideal garden location because it has great drainage. On the other hand, if the hole still has water in it, your chosen area may need some help with increasing drainage before creating your garden space.

There are many ways to increase an area's garden drainage. One of the most popular — and easiest — ways is to add dirt and soil to create hills and slopes in the garden. In areas that have clay or other hard soils increasing drainage may be as simple as replacing a few inches of hard soil with a high quality top soil.

However, if these methods do not work, garden drainage piping may be the only answer for your desired garden space. Garden drainage pipes should be installed prior to any work being completed in a garden. In fact, they should be invisible to the eye after the garden is completed.

Besides making sure that your garden space has the appropriate amount of drainage, the direction of water flow is also important. Regardless of the drainage method that is used, the water should flow away from a home or structure. This will prevent any structural damage to the building and ensure a healthy garden and home.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By wfarmer — On Aug 23, 2009

I think you should check out the math in your answer to the question "What Should I Know about Garden Drainage?” There are 2.54 cm/inch. Thus a hole 30 cm wide and 60 cm deep would be approximately 12 inches wide by 24 inches deep, not 75 inches by 150 inches. The latter would be a very large hole for checking drainage, although digging such a hole might go a long way toward fixing a garden that had poor drainage.

By the way I like your site. It was a big help with explaining "digging bars".

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