Whilst the initial impact of flooding on the landscape is readily apparent – with broken branches, defoliated plants, soil loss, debris and sediment everywhere – the most significant damage is not so obvious and may take a while to manifest itself. |
As flood waters subside, poorly-drained soils can lead to waterlogging. Few garden plants are able to cope with long periods in ground saturated with water. When soil is waterlogged, plants literally drown. Water fills all the air spaces between the soil particles and this prevents oxygen from reaching the roots. In turn, this causes the soil to stagnate and prevents root growth.
Most flood water leaves behind debris and silt that will need to be cleaned out before further use of the garden; however, it is important to make sure that the water used to remove the debris is clean and does not possess any harmful elements. Some property owners try to clean their gardens using sprays designed for fruits and vegetables, or worse, chlorine or bleach solutions. This is unwise and unsafe.
The first step in post flood restoration and garden recovery is to allow the soil to drain naturally. Working with wet soil may cause long-term damage to soil structure through compaction. This is a particular problem with heavier soils which tend to compact to a greater degree. Heavy clay soils will take several days to dry out to the point where work can commence. If plant foliage is heavily silted or covered in debris it is advisable to hose them off gently, taking care not to add too much to the already sodden conditions. Silted leaves will affect the plant's ability to function effectively. Creating Better Drainage
If the garden is not properly equipped for drainage, flood waters can leave behind saturated soil which, in most cases, may cause crops or plants to literally drown. Once this is done, it is nearly impossible to remedy, however, steps may be taken proactively to cut down on the level of damage before flooding becomes a problem.
Proper garden drainage may be achieved through several methods, such as filling the area with a top quality compost mix and using a tiller to mix the compost into the soil. This procedure should be repeated several times over a period of months, and should provide a marked improvement in water drainage.
If the soil has been compacted, it will not allow water to penetrate very deeply, resulting in saturation and overflow. Fill the area with top quality gardening mulch, tilling the mulch into the soil, and the quality of the drainage should improve immensely.
The backyard area (where most gardens are found) can also be elevated in order to provide the setting for more effective runoff due to the effect of gravity on water flow. Just make sure the flow is directed properly away from the home.
Shrubs and fruit trees are particularly vulnerable in waterlogged soil during the winter months, says Alys. Shrubs aren't able to put on new roots as quickly as perennials and cannot cope for long periods of time underneath water. Planting trees and shrubs on raised ground will help to improve drainage.
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