Determining Soil Drainage

The first step to a bountiful and beautiful garden is making sure that your soil is healthy and that it has the proper drainage for your plants.

Today I will explain how to determine your soil drainage (i.e. the porosity of your soil . . .that is, how well your soil retains the proper amount of water)

Not every plant likes to have “wet feet” all the time while others love it, so the secret to “happy plants” is to match the plant to the soil or correct your soil drainage. Don’t just leave it to guesswork!

Before you start checking your soil drainage, you will need a clean garden spade, a ruler, a garden hose, pen and paper, and compost.

Step 1: On a sunny mild day, take your clean spade, go to the middle of your planting area, and dig a hole about 1 to 2 feet deep and wide.

Step 2: With your garden hose, fill the hole with water. With your ruler, measure the water depth in the hole and record this number.

Step 3: Every 15 minutes, measure the water depth and record each new number. If the water disappears after an hour, drainage is too quick. Correct the soil by adding a 3 inch layer of well rotted manure or compost and mixing well.

If on the other hand, you have clay soil and the soil drainage is next to nil, mixing compost and even peat moss with your soil will help.

Step 4: If level drops an inch an hour, you have proper soil drainage.

The biggest advantage of determining soil drainage is that you will know which type of plant will best fit your drainage situation, so less money will be wasted on trial and error.

To your gardening success!