Get the best from wet soil

Get the best from wet soil

If the soil in your garden is always moist, here's how to get the best from it.

Do you have wet soil in your garden? Some clues may be that moss and mind-your-own-business thrive, holes fill with water and plants often succumb to fungal diseases. Moist soil needn’t be a disaster for your garden – many plants thrive in damp conditions.

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Alternatively, you may simply live in an area of the country that has very high rainfall, leaving your soil permanently moist. If you have an area of your garden that is very wet, consider creating a bog garden. Discover 10 plants for a bog garden.

Cultivating healthy soil and matching plants to your soil type is they key to successful gardening on wet or moist soil.

More on gardening in wet soil:

Here are our tips on getting the best from moist soil.

Moist soil needn't be a disaster for your garden - many plants thrive in damp conditions. 

Add coarse grit

Adding grit to the bottom of a planting hole
Adding grit to the bottom of a planting hole

Adding coarse grit can help to improve drainage, especially in winter, when most plants hate sitting in cold, wet soil. It’s also a good idea to add grit to the bottom of the planting hole when adding new plants.


Grow moisture-loving plants

Candelabra primulas
Candelabra primulas

Many plants enjoy moist conditions, including Hydrangea macropyllaHydrangea paniculata, spiraeaLobelia cardinalis, wisteriabamboohostasligularia, drumstick primulas (Primula denticulata) and Japanese primulas (Primula japonica), Lythrum salicaria, astilbe, actaea, Viburnum opulus and Hesperantha coccinea.


Build raised beds

Raised beds planted with box and lavender
Raised beds planted with box and lavender

If you have very wet soil, consider creating raised beds, both for flowering plants and for veg – you can fill these with the perfect soil mix for the plants you would like to grow. Alternatively, plant onto mounds of soil so that excess water can drain away.


Protect plants from slugs and snails

Adding grit around the base of a hosta plant
Adding grit around the base of a hosta plant

Slugs and snails thrive in damp conditions, where they wreak havoc on young plants and vulnerable plants such as hostas. Scatter slug pellets sparingly – organic ones have been found to be just as effective as chemical ones and are less harmful to wildlife. Find out how to control slugs and snails organically.


Add organic matter

Forking on well-rotted manure to a garden border
Forking on well-rotted manure to a garden border

Forking in some well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost to wet soil will improve its drainage. A coarse organic matter is ideal, as this will help to create the air pockets needed to boost drainage. Find out more about the types of organic matter to use in the garden.


Fork over the soil

Forking over wet soil
Forking over wet soil

Heavy rain can compact the soil, creating a ‘pan’ on top. To avoid this happening, fork over the soil lightly – this will help the rain to drain into the soil, rather than sitting on the top.


Avoid treading on the soil

Avoid treading on wet soil after rain
Avoid treading on wet soil after rain

Avoid walking on the soil if it is wet after rain. If you need to dig or plant, work from a plank to avoid compacting the soil further.


Install a drainage system

If the soil is waterlogged, rather than just damp, you’ll need to install a ground drainage system.

Garden spade

More plants for moist soil

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