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This year I ripped up some sod to put in a garden, and roto-tilled the dirt. We live in a very nutrient rich area of the country and the plants seem do be doing very well. However I didn't add any mulch or other lighter soil to the ground while I was tilling. Now when it rains or when I water the garden, the water seems to pool for a longer period of time than I would personally like to see.

What are the negative effects of pooling water in the garden, and what can be done to correct this now that the plants are already growing?

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  • How long does the water pool for typically?
    – Om Patange
    Jun 29, 2012 at 1:06
  • A few minutes at most
    – Tyler
    Jun 29, 2012 at 14:44
  • A few minutes doesn't sound like a big deal.
    – sharptooth
    Mar 14, 2013 at 9:09

3 Answers 3

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The best conditions for vegetables are a soil that is pH neutral (pH of 7) and rich in organic matter. What you have sounds like a clay soil. Clay soils are slow to warm in spring and, depending on soil pH, can have critical nutrients tied up and unavailable for plant growth.

A lot depends on what you are growing. As you have seen clay also drains poorly. This means roots are waterlogged and unable to exchange air.

This can be solved as part of your annual garden chores. In spring and fall top dress with compost or other organic matter. Repeat yearly and the drainage will improve in the bed.

However you may still have poor drainage in the grass area around the bed. You have to assess the likelihood of storms dumping many inches of rain in your area versus the work involved in installing my preferred solution of four inch drainage pipe with sleeve.

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You said that you roto tilled it so I would imagine that you have created in a clay soil what I would call a soil pan. This unfortunate is a layer of skimmed subsoil, in this case thick clay, that has over the summer formed a compacted layer under your nice top soil. It has pooling water on top and does not allow drainage to occur. So next time, double dig it and fork the bottom of the trench. That will aid in adding extra drainage, I would also include large amount of manure to add air to the soil and add moisture during the summer. This all helps with badly clogged up heavy clay soils.

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If your soil stays wet for too long, it can lead to root decay and even some fungus problems on the surface of the dirt, moving up to your leaves on your plants.

I have a similar problem as my garden is on a slight slope, and it all collects in a bottom corner. What I did was plant very thirsty plants in the collection areas, such as watermelon to drink it all up. They love it and it keeps the soil from being a mud pit.

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