Dealing with Boggy Yards – When You Have A Sinking Feeling

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It’s monsoon season here in Georgia. I haven’t been able to tend to my garden in over a week because of the rain, which is why the pineapple I’d been growing ended up getting eaten by bugs before it could be picked. There’s not much in my yard that’s high and dry. In fact, the whole area has been inundated by puddles. The smaller ones come up to my ankles and the bigger ones have been known to entrap large pickup trucks. Instead of going for walks in the afternoon, the dogs have been going for swims. Clearly my new yard has some serious drainage problems. However, (cue nefarious villain voice) there are some way of dealing with little problems like that.

Making Amends

Read any good garden book and it’s likely that all-knowing authors will advise people with drainage problems to amend their soil in order to get more out of it. The problem with taking their advice is that amending large portion of soil is an expensive procedure. Just looking at potting soil prices sometimes sends me into Ebenezer Scrooge mode. The last thing I want to do is try to price a full half acre’s worth of dirt, compost, peat, sand and whatever else I might need to fix the issue at hand. Then, there’s all the tilling and digging to get the improvements worked into the ground so they can be of use. If you’re into garden maintenance produces that are labor intensive and have a high cost, you can definitely go that route. I’d rather not.

Raise The Roots

Putting plants on bricks or other raisers keeps them out of the mud.
Putting plants on raisers keeps them out of the muck.

I personally prefer a low-key, budget approach to gardening. The easiest way to keep plants from becoming swamped is simply to get them out of the marsh. One way of doing this is to put them in containers with quality soil and move them to a dry spot. Raised beds and hanging baskets are also good ways to prevent gardens in damp spots from flooding. My plants were already in containers when I realized the yard had a problem so I had no trouble moving them out of the puddles to healthier spots. The ones that didn’t mind the rain but disliked sitting in puddles went on top of a picnic table outside. The others went under the carport so they could stay dry.

If it won't stop raining, putting plants under the carport will keep them from becoming soggy.
If it won’t stop raining, putting plants in a dry spot will keep them from becoming soggy.

However, gardeners who put their plants under shelter of some kind will definitely want to make sure these plants get watered occasionally. After all, it’s very easy to look at the ominous clouds and be under the delusion that everything is getting drenched again. Just remember that if you moved some of the plants, it’s no longer the case. I’m quite guilty of this delusion myself. Fortunately, the plants I temporarily forgot about were mostly cacti and other succulents. They lived. The others weren’t so lucky.

Good Plants for Boggy Places

Canna lilies are a good choice for boggy areas.
Canna lilies are a good choice for boggy areas.

Of course, having to put an entire garden into containers can run into some serious money and effort. If you’re the sort of person who regularly drops and breaks the terracotta pots, the costs associated with a container garden are naturally going to be higher. (Not that I would know anything about being a butterfingers). The cheapest way to go is to use plants in your yard that can handle the preexisting marshy conditions.

Canna lilies, mints, lemon balm, meadowsweet, pitcher plants, papyrus, and aquatic plants like water chestnuts are all good options for soils with varying degrees of constant moisture. Just be aware that you don’t want to dig a hole and plant the Saracennia species in your backyard. These carnivorous plants need a nutrient-free soil made mostly of sand and peat moss. However, they’re pretty happy to float around in a saucer full of rainwater as long as their roots are anchored in their preferred medium.

Any plant that requires drier growing conditions, such as cacti and Mediterranean herbs, should be kept out of the ground in places where flooding is a problem. These specimens should instead be grown in containers so that they can be moved to a less soggy spot if the area where they’re hanging out becomes submerged. Of course, putting arid climate plants in boggy environment means they’ll require extra tending but some specimens are worth it. Aren’t they? Happy Gardening!

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About Lauren

Lauren Purcell is a freelance writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is the proud owner of two spoiled little dogs. Her hobbies include gardening (in case you hadn't noticed), cooking, traveling when she has money, and waiting on her key lime tree to produce fruit.

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