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Old 08-05-2009, 09:45 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
11,892 posts, read 12,503,295 times
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How can you tell????

Can someone please tell me how to determine if I have well drained soil or not and what do I do if I don't???
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Fly-over country.
1,765 posts, read 6,240,790 times
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after it rains, in the spot you are checking, does the water stand a while? does the soil seem wet to the touch for several days after a rain? if, so, it is not well-drained.

otoh, if it rains and there's no standing water or if the top layer of "soil" is dry a few days after a good soaking rain, it is well-drained.

if your soil is not well-drained and is "moist" most of the time, look for plants and trees that like that soil or are adaptable to soil types
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:51 AM
 
Location: San Antonio
11,892 posts, read 12,503,295 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caution View Post
after it rains, in the spot you are checking, does the water stand a while? does the soil seem wet to the touch for several days after a rain? if, so, it is not well-drained.

otoh, if it rains and there's no standing water or if the top layer of "soil" is dry a few days after a good soaking rain, it is well-drained.

if your soil is not well-drained and is "moist" most of the time, look for plants and trees that like that soil or are adaptable to soil types
What a perfect answer! Thanks a million. I bet I'm not the only one that didn't know. Time to move some plants.
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 12,445,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camper1 View Post
How can you tell????

Can someone please tell me how to determine if I have well drained soil or not and what do I do if I don't???
Dig a hole 1 foot deep, 2 feet wide. Fill it with water from the garden hose. Keep an eye on it. If it takes about 30 minutes to drain away, your soil is considered to have good drainage. If it takes under 10 minutes, you probably have lots of sand. Under 10 minutes, over 30, add organic material to hold more moisture. You may want to try this in several spots in the yard. Not all areas of the same lot will be the same.
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Mishawaka, IN
855 posts, read 2,124,404 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paperhouse View Post
Dig a hole 1 foot deep, 2 feet wide. Fill it with water from the garden hose. Keep an eye on it. If it takes about 30 minutes to drain away, your soil is considered to have good drainage. If it takes under 10 minutes, you probably have lots of sand. Under 10 minutes, over 30, add organic material to hold more moisture. You may want to try this in several spots in the yard. Not all areas of the same lot will be the same.
Just to add to this advice, if it takes a long time you've probably got clay or overly compacted soil and it can indeed vary from one part of the yard to another.

I've done a lot of planting in front the last couple of years and while we've got very good soil overall, we've got clay anywhere from 12 to 18 inches down. While it does drain pretty well thanks to our yard being sloped, that probably wouldn't be the case if it were level.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:55 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
11,892 posts, read 12,503,295 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paperhouse View Post
Dig a hole 1 foot deep, 2 feet wide. Fill it with water from the garden hose. Keep an eye on it. If it takes about 30 minutes to drain away, your soil is considered to have good drainage. If it takes under 10 minutes, you probably have lots of sand. Under 10 minutes, over 30, add organic material to hold more moisture. You may want to try this in several spots in the yard. Not all areas of the same lot will be the same.
ugh!! It drains right away, I would say instantly. Stuff grows but takes a ton of water. Should I dig stuff up and replant? I have plumbago, Esperanza and tall Mexican petunia. They get the morning sun ( which is hot right now in Texas) and are covered by the shade of the house about 5:00.

All three wilt something awful every day until I give them a drink ( and it soaks in right away.
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:09 PM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 12,445,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camper1 View Post
ugh!! It drains right away, I would say instantly. Stuff grows but takes a ton of water. Should I dig stuff up and replant? I have plumbago, Esperanza and tall Mexican petunia. They get the morning sun ( which is hot right now in Texas) and are covered by the shade of the house about 5:00.

All three wilt something awful every day until I give them a drink ( and it soaks in right away.
Soaking in on top of the soil doesn't mean you have good dirt beneath. That's why you dig a hole to test it. You could have some nasty hardpan that causes the water to move horizontally rather than vertically. If you are worried, add some compost to the soil. You can buy it or make your own from shredded leaves. In your area, I'm betting you have alkaline soil too. For now, you should be mulching well using a fast degrading mulch, like straw or finely chopped wood. It will eventually break down and add organic material to the soil. Texas gardening is a real challenge anyway with the lack of rain you guys have had lately.
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:51 AM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
5,288 posts, read 17,482,726 times
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The answer to improving either clay soil or sandy soil is to add organic material....and it takes a long time to actually change the composition of soil - many years actually. I love raised beds because you still have room for the extra volume of soil that results from adding lots of amendements.

The easiest thing is to grow what does well in your area - what you see doing well in your neighbor's yards and usually what they are selling at a good local nursery....buy plants that grow well in your area without a lot of expensive amendments.

Last edited by Cattknap; 08-06-2009 at 05:00 AM..
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:32 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,434 posts, read 41,608,566 times
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Your extension agent should have a list of good growing plants for your area. They are so valuable and people really don't know how to use them . Good luck
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Old 05-06-2011, 08:29 AM
 
1 posts, read 14,393 times
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Default How to turn soil into a well-drained one

What should I do to turn our wet soil areas into better drained ones? The area around the patio stays wet for weeks after the big rain, because the water keeps seeping from the mountain above...
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