Repairing Your Garden After Flooding
The winter of 2015 saw extensive flooding right across the UK, with some areas even being hit with flooding on more than one occasion. Hopefully things are now starting to look up and houses are becoming more recognisable as family homes once again.
Whilst the garden may have been at the bottom of your priorities you may now find that you have a bit of extra time and energy to concentrate on repairing your garden after flooding. Follow our tips below to help restore your garden to its former glory.
Give your garden some time to recover
Following a flood, the best thing to do is to allow your garden some time to recover. The floodwater needs time to drain away naturally, and walking on saturated ground will cause further problems in your garden by compacting the soil even more. Allow the water to retreat and keep off your garden for a while.
Look after your plants
Most plants will survive a couple of days under water. They will show signs of stress but don’t assume that they will not recover. When the flood water has drained away, wash your plants with some clean water using a hosepipe or a watering can to remove the silt layer from the leaves. This will allow the plants to photosynthesis and make a quicker and healthier recovery. Cut back any branches or leaves that are badly damaged or dead and then give the plants time to recover. It is also a good idea to prune back any ornamental plants so that they can concentrate their energy on strong root growth to recover from the flood. Over the months following keep an eye on your plants and they will hopefully make a full recovery.
If you have been growing any fruit or vegetables in your garden, unfortunately the safest thing to do is to get rid of the crops. Flood water can be contaminated and contain sewage and waste so it is best not to eat them just in case. Remove any existing crops, loosen the soil and add in plenty of organic matter and then just give the area some time to recover and for any pollutants to naturally wash out of the system.
Freshen up the Borders
Typically flooding adds lots of nutrients to soil, that’s why river floodplains are so fertile. It’s a bit different in urban areas though and flood water can wash away lots of vital nutrients such as nitrogen and can introduce waste and pollution. Excess water also compacts soil and removes vital space and air molecules within the soil structure.
Once the water has had plenty of time to fully drain, dig over and loosen the soil with a garden fork. Following this, mix in lots of organic matter such as organic compost or well rotted manure. This will help to replace any lost soil and replenish the much needed nutrients ready to bring your garden back to life. Adding organic matter also helps the structure of your soil and improves drainage to help in any future wet weather. You can also apply a multi purpose fertiliser to give your borders an extra helping hand.
Repair your Lawn
Lawns are pretty robust and can still survive after being submerged in water for five days. Like your borders though, the soil beneath your turf will have become compact and vital air pockets will have been removed.
The first task to repair your lawn is to rake away any debris and silt on the surface of the lawn. Following this your lawn will then need aerating. Use a hollow tine aerator which removes plugs of earth from the lawn. This will allow air to reach the grass roots and make space to alleviate compaction. See our blog on lawn aeration for more tips. In spring and summer add fertiliser to your lawn to help it recover and grow strong and healthy roots again.
If your lawn has been under floodwater for a week or more, chances are it will have died and will not come back. In this instance it is unfortunately a case of starting again. All debris should be removed and the area will need to be rotovated. This will add vital air back into the compacted soil and by mixing in organic matter too it will improve nutrient content and the fertility of the soil for when you are ready to lay a new lawn.
So in summary, your garden will appreciate the following after suffering from flooding:
- Wash your plants to remove silt from the leaves.
- Throw away any fruit or vegetable crops.
- Add organic matter to your borders and loosen them with a garden fork.
- Rake away any debris and silt from your lawn.
- Aerate your lawn using a hollow tine aerator.
With a bit of TLC your garden will soon be back on track. Given time your lawn will be back in top condition and your borders will recover and will be full of nutrients once again. When you are ready, you can then add plants, flowers and all the other finishing touches to bring your garden back to its former glory.