I have 12 sweet viburnums (Viburnum odortatissimum) in a row as a future privacy hedge. I had to replace 2 of them just recently because they suffocated from sitting water when I had heavy rain at the end of the fall. They all discolored but only 2 died, thankfully. So basically, this whole strip of land these viburnums are planted on has poor drainage when it rains a lot and I'm wondering the best and cheapest way to add some drainage when there are already plants there? I know they'll be a bit stronger as they mature, and possibly survive the suffocation, but not necessarily, and I don't want to take the chance. I'd hate to see them die off after maturing should a drenching rain leave water sitting for a month.

1 Answer 1


You need somewhere for the water to go. If there is anywhere close by that is lower than the planting area then:

  • dig a trench to the lower area about six inches wide and at least six to twelve inches deep.
  • Place four inch perforated drain pipe with sleeve in the trench
  • backfill the first four inches with gravel
  • Optional -place a layer of landscaping fabric on top of the gravel
  • backfill to ground level with soil

Or construct a french drain. I find a sturdy plastic bucket with the bottom removed works well. Line with gravel, top with landscape fabric and soil and you are done.

  • 2
    Additionally, if the area is relatively level or an area where water naturally ponds, it might be possible to install sand wicks, aka vertical drains. We deal with a lot of areas with a few feet of clay near the surface, but with sand underneath. In these cases we dig a few 6" (or larger) holes through the clay into the sand. Then we fill the holes with gravel or just more sand. This way the ponded water can flow down this very permeable layer to the sand, where it is absorbed easily.
    – That Idiot
    Apr 2, 2015 at 11:11
  • 1
    @ThatIdiot This is a french drain under another name. Very interesting idea as it depends on a unique soil profile. We would need more information from the user to recommend this.
    – kevinskio
    Apr 2, 2015 at 13:09

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