Water, water everywhere

by zoe | 19.02.2014 | water , garden , flood , flooding , uk | 0 comments | Rating: 2 votes




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How to garden in a changing climate. Or how to prevent water-logging in your garden.

It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that parts of the UK have had the wettest January for 100 years, with 175-200mm of rain falling in the south and west. The Environment Agency has warned that more homes in Herefordshire and Worcestershire will be flooded as river levels continue to rise. Meanwhile, the Met Office has issued its first red warning of the winter, with high winds expected,, severe flood warnings for sixteen areas including Berkshire, Surrey and Somerset and less severe flood warnings for another 350 areas.

Whilst David Cameron has committed to spend „whatever is necessary“ on flood relief efforts, Labour leader Ed Milliband has argued that the UK should be spending more on flood defences in the future to make the UK more resilient. And it’s true that climate change is causing extreme weather events to become more and more common.

But preventing flooding is not just about large scale projects like the Thames Barrier. It’s about considering drainage in all aspects of life, including Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) and protecting wetlands. At a smaller level you can do your part in your garden to increase drainage, which will prevent waterlogging and damage to plants; gardening presenter Alys Fowler suggests that all gardeners should work to improve drainage by aerating the soil and planting trees and shrubs on a raised mound. "And I can't stress enough the importance of adding compost. The more compost that's in, the better the drainage and water holding capacity."

Whilst we can’t stop floods from happening, here are some top tips to prevent waterlogging in your garden:

In the short term:

  • After flooding, wash down hard surfaces and collect up debris to prevent drains blocking and soil surfaces being covered.
  • Don’t walk on the soil until it has dried out, to avoid compacting it.
  • Remove damaged shoots and leaves from plants.
  • Apply a fertiliser to counteract leaching of nutrients.
  • Roots may be damaged, so in subsequent dry spells, water plants thoroughly.

In the long term:

  • Choose permeable surfaces for drives, paths and patios.
  • Consider planting trees on a slight mound.
  • Grow plants in raised beds.
  • Consider installing a green roof on your home or garage.
  • Create a seasonal pool or ‘swale’ that fills in winter and dries to a bog garden in summer.
  • Dig ditches for drainage, or a dry well – dig a large hole and fill it with pieces of brick and stones. When it rains, the water will sink into the well and be slowly absorbed by the soil around it.

Image Source: Boston Public Library (Some rights reserved)

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