February brings with it some welcome signs that spring is on its way. The days are getting slightly longer and the spring bulbs are making their presence known. The mild winter has seen daffodils already in bloom but it’s been a wet and soggy start to the year so far which has brought specific problems to the garden.
Lawns are the most obvious areas of waterlogging in the garden but containers and beds can also suffer. Signs of waterlogging are yellowing leaves that wither and drop just as if they are in need of water. In fact, the roots are struggling to breathe and the plants are literally drowning. Other signs are puddles forming and soil that turns easily to mud.
Whatever you do, stay off wet soil or waterlogged lawns. Why? Because healthy soil is full of air pockets but the weight of the water will close them and compress the earth. The additional weight of someone walking on the soil will compact it further by squeezing out more air – the air in the soil allows the roots of plants and micro-organisms that live in it to breathe. These conditions also provide the ideal breeding ground for diseases and fungal attacks. For example, box is prone to box plight in poorly drained areas.
What to do
Waterlogged pot plants should be taken out of the pot, damaged roots and dead or dying shoots removed, and repotted in new, free-draining compost. Remember to put crocks in the bottom of the pot and place pots on feet to allow the water to drain away.
For waterlogged beds dig them over to get air back into the compacted soil and dig in well-drained topsoil and/or organic matter to replace nutrients that would have been washed away by the rain.
The good news for lawns is that they are tough and the grass is likely to recover from a wet spell. However, we have just experienced the wettest December on record, and January hasn’t been much better, so your lawn might need a bit of TLC to recover. To help a heavily damaged lawn back to life you need to wait until the weather has improved and temperatures are at least 8OC, and then take the following steps:
- Aerate the area well by spiking the lawn or using a motorised aerator.
- Brush a layer of lime-free sharp sand over the lawn. Don’t use building sand as it can contain salts and other impurities.
- Overseed the affected area and cover with a light layer of topsoil.
- Keep the seeded area lightly watered if we don’t get enough rain to do so naturally.
If you follow these steps your lawn will recover in no time but make sure it is well established before mowing. If you have a more serious drainage problem it might be that you need to install a drainage system or soak away. This will involved ditches being dug out and filled with gravel to allow the water to drain. Give us a call if you think this could be the solution to your problem as we have the heavy equipment needed to dig drainage ditches.