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Check Soil Drainage Before Planting

Avoid planting failures by checking soil drainage before selecting and placing plants, especially trees and shrubs in the landscape.

Soil drainage can vary greatly throughout even a small lot. Check soil drainage by digging a hole about 1 foot deep and 1 foot in diameter in the proposed planting site. Fill with water and allow it to drain.

As soon as it completely drains, refill the hole with water and measure the water level. Measure the water level again in 15 minutes. Multiply the number of inches the water level dropped by 4 to get an hourly rate. Less than one inch per hour indicates poor drainage. Most plants need between 1 to 6 inches of drainage per hour to thrive.

Select moisture tolerant plants, amend the soil in the planting bed, create a raised bed or look for a new location in poorly drained sites.

A bit more information: Select drought tolerant plants for fast draining locations. Add organic matter to planting beds prior to planting to increase the water holding ability of the soil. Mulch with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to help conserve moisture, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose.


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