The right amount of water helps your landscape and garden thrive and stay healthy. Water regularly—but do not overwater. More plants die from overwatering than from any other reason. Roots need air; waterlogged roots can kill even large plants.
Standing water around plants is a sign of overwatering. It’s caused in part by our region’s clay soils, which prevent good drainage. You can do everything right—dig a good hole, use the right soil and compost mix, and add your plant. But if the surrounding soil is thick with clay, you’ve created a clay “pot” without a drain: most plants in this landscape environment will die, because the water can’t get out. Roots can’t breathe in water, and the plant drowns.
Improve soil drainage with care. Amending the soil—adding organic material like compost—can help drainage. However, compost works only briefly because it quickly breaks down. Adding sand can help, but too much sand can turn your soil into a brick.
A great way to improve drainage is to create a raised garden and landscape bed where you prepare the soil before planting. A good bed lets air and water move freely in soil that is not too wet or too dry. Avoid using finely ground materials in your bed. Decomposing finely ground materials such as sawdust, grass clipping and finely ground bark create slime, which can settle and create a wall between the garden bed and the earth below.
My garden drains well because I amend the soil with PermaTill ™, a long-lasting, environmentally friendly soil additive that loosens clay while improving soil structure and drainage. Add a ratio of 35% to 50% of PermaTill ™ in the native clay with about 15% to 20% organic matter. Because of the air space in the PermaTill ™ particles, roots can grow deep into the soil, which protects them from extreme temperatures. PermaTill™ does not replace the need for organics, so you’ll still have to add compost from time to time—but you only need to add PermaTill™ once. PermaTill™ is sold at garden centers.
Two nurseries in North Georgia that carry PermaTill: