How to Improve Waterlogged Soil? [5 Tips]

In Lawn & Garden by Jamie

If it often rains in your area, your lawn may be prone to waterlogging, but rain isn’t the only reason your lawn is waterlogged. Let me help you learn more about waterlogging and how to improve waterlogged soil!

What is waterlogging?

Waterlogging is when soil has too much moisture from flooding that the pore spaces close. This could be harmful as it becomes inhabitable for plants and other organisms to grow normally.

Aside from heavy rain, watering too much could also saturate the soil which could fill the pore spaces. Without these pore spaces being able to breathe, plants and organisms will struggle.

Poor drainage can also contribute as a cause of waterlogging as well as poor irrigation. Sometimes, the pipes underneath our lawn could burst and cause water to seep. The longer the soil is soaked in water, the faster the spaces inside close.

Just like any other living things, plants need to breathe as well. Pore spaces play a role in helping plants become healthy as these spaces help roots grow and become thicker. The earthworms and microbes also glide through these pore spaces and their excrement produces nutritious matters which make plants grow healthier.

If your lawn is waterlogged, most likely, there is little to no room for the soil and plants to breathe in.

Air cannot circulate with waterlogging. Nutrients from the ground will not find its way to the roots. If you had grass or plants planted, it could decay fast because the soil has too much water in it or if you have a small backyard farm, waterlogging could slowly wither them and cause your crops to yield fewer products.


Prevent a Waterlogged Lawn

One of the ways we can avoid waterlogging is by mixing manure or grass cuttings with the soil you will use. This way, they will slowly dig their way through the soil, leaving spaces along the way.

However, if you are dealing with waterlogged lawns at the moment, you can still make your lawn fit for cultivation and planting by the means of reclamation.

Overseeding is another way you can prevent waterlogging while you are waiting for the rainy seasons to pass.


How to improve Waterlogged Soil?

The best way to improve waterlogged soil is to remove the excess water in the soil. The easiest way to remove excess water from the soil is to create a proper drainage system. An easy drain system for your home would be a French drain. When the excess water drains out from the soil it will become better for overall growth for both plants and grass.

5 Ways to Improve Waterlogged Soil

1. Build a Drain

Build a drain to get rid of the current and future waterlogging. This process could take you a lot of time and effort, professional help could save you time. However, don’t be scared to do this yourself, it is certainly an easy DIY project. This can be a permanent solution to flooding.

Eliminating flooding will improve overall soil quality, making growth much more susceptible. 

Steps to build a French drain? Look at these 4 steps to creating a French drain at home:

  1. First, figure out where the water is flowing or sitting on your property
  2. Next, dig a trench about 4-5 inches deep and 6-12 inches wide. Dig in a way where the water can flow down and away from the property. (water does not flow uphill!)
  3. Many now add a plastic pipe for water to flow, but it isn’t required. Add gravel in the trench, this allows water to flow away easily.
  4. Finally, add soil and/or sods on top of gravel to hide drain. Now the water shouldn’t flood, it should flow away in drain.

2. Aeration

By the means of aeration, you can also improve your waterlogged lawn. This process will not need any use of too much water. You will simply need a garden fork or shoes designed to help aeration. However, the depth of the tine you will need depends on the severity of the waterlogging. The more water, the deeper holes you will need to make.

The goal of this process is to poke holes and loosen the soil to draw out the moisture or distribute the excess water to the dry part of the soil. You are simply spreading the water into other areas of your lawn, this helps minimize the waterlogged areas.

Aeration is almost like loosening a hard-packed soil except you will be using less effort since the soil is a bit softer due to the flooding under. It would be best to loosen the soil until you reach the part that is no longer wet.

3. Dethatching

When fixing waterlogged soil aeration is a great way to provide the soil with proper amounts of water and access to breath oxygen. However, waterlogged soil can cause issues with your lawn rather quickly. I actually talk about this in our article “Why is my Grass Turning Brown After Lots of Rain?”, check it out if interested!

Anyways, dethatching is a great process that removes a layer of dead and potentially soggy grass that could be growing fungi, and causing other diseases in your lawn.

Basically, you use a dethatching machine but it isn’t required. You can also use a good thin needled gardening rake. Dethatching is simply the process of removing the dead grass and unwanted materials of your lawn, without stripping the healthy green grass.

It helps significantly with waterlogged soils, mixing dethatching, and aeration techniques can help build super healthy soil. It eliminates excess moisture and enables the soil to get back to a healthy state. With a thick soggy layer of dead grass above the soil, it makes things difficult to begin growing. This can be why waterlogged lawns have terrible growing issues. Cleaning up gives great odds to better lawn growth.

4. Use a Watershed or Collector

Use a watershed or water collector to prevent flooding. Collecting water can not only prevent waterlogging, but the accumulated water can be saved and used later on to keep the soil moist, clean front yards, water the garden, and many more. The area kept dry by the watershed does not remain dry as the water is distributed evenly beneath the topsoil.

Waterlogging is a very common issue that can be caused by man-made factors or natural causes. This could be fixed by removing the excess water from the soil using different methods. Healthy soil can be identified by the correct amount of organisms that live beneath it, sufficient pore spaces, and the right amount of moisture. Tensiometers could also help you in regularly checking if your soil is too moist or too dry. This device has prongs you have to stick to the ground to test the amount of water absorbed by the soil.

Keeping your grass healthy begins with keeping the soil healthy. A regular check-up is required as the change in the climate, the amount of sunlight, and the amount of water could change the growth of what you plant. Before you start to plant grass on your lawn, always make sure that it is cultivated well and it is fit for planting: not to dry, not to wet.

5. Reclamation by Leaching

Reclamation by leaching is one of the ways you can fix a waterlogged lawn. Reclamation leaching is the process of eliminating salts from the grassroots causing growth development issues. Though the soil is already saturated with water, this process can remove the alkali present in the soil by flooding it so it dissolves in the water. The filtered water then joins the water table and drains. The process of leaching must be repeated until the salts are reduced to an acceptable amount or completely washed away.

You may be wondering why alkali and salts are mentioned in this process?
This is because soils are naturally rich in minerals like salt and this is beneficial to plants. However, because of waterlogging, they accumulate in an area rather than being evenly distributed and this is harmful to the plants. The goal of leaching is somewhat like cleansing the soil from salt to remove excess and crystallization when the soil dries.


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, waterlogging could really cause you a headache if you don’t put time and effort into keeping your soil healthy. Just like a domino effect, an unhealthy soil will produce an unhealthy plant, and trying to care for unhealthy plants is just a waste of your time.

Always make sure that your soil is composed of organic materials to make it livable by organisms. Use your previous grass cuttings and purchase sacks of manure to mix during cultivation seasons. This will help your lawn grow greener and will be less likely to be waterlogged.

The garden fork is also useful in making sure the soil is dry and any trapped flooding can be freed and distributed evenly in dry parts of the ground. Making sure that your lawn has reliable drainage underneath could lessen your worries during the rainy season. If your house has a good drainage system, it will be unlikely that water will be accumulated in the ground, as they can be taken through the pipe to the sewers directly.

Before planting season, make sure that your lawn is ready to be covered in grass. Always check if the soil is healthy if there are enough pore spaces for roots to crawl around, and lastly, make sure that the kind of grass you are planting is appropriate for the climate. You can find more information about the best type of grass in different climates by clicking here.