Preventing your garden from flooding

Along with the cold, the winter months also bring the wet weather. While flooding in the UK is a relatively isolated problem, many homeowners may find that a torrential downpour can often leave their garden flooded and waterlogged.

It’s obvious that flooding has the potential to damage you're your property, but it also has a number of negative effects on your garden. Waterlogged gardens can damage and in extreme cases kill your plants and trees.

Ordinarily preventing flooding in your garden can easily be achieved by using a little common sense and some basic garden maintenance. 

To prevent your garden from flooding, there are a number of preventative measures that you can take long and short term. 

Short term solutions: 

If you are expecting a lot of rain, then some of these short term measures may help prevent your garden from flooding. They aren’t particularly taxing and are basic garden maintenance tasks that you should undertake anyway for a healthy lawn and healthy garden. 

1. Clear drains and guttering: Make sure any rain water has somewhere to go. Remove any fallen leaves and debris from your drains and guttering allowing the water to run away easily without any bottle necks. Collect fallen leaves and debris from any nearby paths and lawns to prevent them being swept onto drain covers which could cause a blockage. A quick and easy way to collect fallen leaves from your garden is with a garden vacuum like the Flymo GardenVac, which is readily available in most good retailers and garden centres. 

2. Add organic mulch: By placing mulch onto your lawn and flowerbeds it will increase the absorbency of garden. A good top soil or mulch like bark would be suitable. For areas of the lawn that regularly flood, it may be a good idea to mix a good top soil with a little sand. 

3. Add leaf mould: Leaf mould is a great soil conditioner and should be added once a year. Leaf mould helps enable the soil to absorb and retain more water which is ideal if you are expecting a downpour. 

4. Ensure soil is well aerated and not compacted: Often a common cause of flooding in the garden is because the soil is compacted therefore preventing the water from penetrating into the soil. This causes the water to sit and collect on top of the soil which eventually floods the garden. By aerating your lawn it not only helps oxygen reach the grass roots which is essential for healthy grass growth, but it also provides a way for the water to sink into the soil. You can aerate your lawn with an ordinary garden fork or with a hollow tined aerator. An aerator will remove a small plug of soil from the lawn which allows the soil to move into, reducing the compaction in the lawn. 

Long term solutions: 

If your garden floods regularly then it may be worth considering a couple of the below longer term measures to help prevent it from flooding in the future. 

1. Minimise the areas of concrete and hard surfaces in your garden: These surfaces remove areas in which water can be absorbed and creates areas in which water often runs off and collects nearby. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice patio etc. to sit on. If you want to create a nice sitting area try using smaller bricks or slabs and lay them using sharp sand to maximise the drainage. 

2. Level off areas that flood frequently: If your garden slopes then the water will collect in a single area which is at risk of flooding. Try levelling the area out with extra top soil to prevent the water from collecting in a single area. 

3. Create run off areas: If your garden often floods in dangerous positions, you could consider creating run off areas that diverts the water into other less problematic areas of your garden. This is a good solution if you have a larger garden. 

4. Lay drains: A more drastic measure is to dig up your garden and lay drains. This will help take water away from your garden and home and into the sewage system. Before you do this you will need to get written permission from the council.

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