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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Shultz

"Wet Feet" - Dealing with too much water in the garden

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Weather, Watering, Or Not!

Water is one of the biggest concerns for most gardeners. Usually the concern is that our plants aren’t getting enough water to thrive. But "when it rains, it pours" right? Some years we get very regular rainfall.

Here are some notes on dealing with too much water in the garden.

Consider Planting a Rain Garden Most plants don't tolerate having wet or soggy roots and can't thrive when there's too much rain or overwatering. A rain garden is a depression planted with specific plants with deep roots that can handle water. The garden is positioned to capture runoff from surfaces that won't let water drain through (like rooftops or driveways) and designed to filter it into the ground. Several native flowers, ferns, grasses and shrubs are perfect for rain gardens - they can handle lots of water but also periods of drought. Use this UT Extension publication to learn all about rain gardens in Tennessee.

Improve Existing Soil

One quality that makes a poor soil is bad drainage. Clay soils are too compact for water to filter through so it just runs off. Sandy soils drain too fast. In both cases, water doesn't stay around long enough for plants to make use of it. Correct a poor quality soil by mixing in organic material (compost, aged manure, decomposing straw), this will help with drainage. Here's a great video explaining how to tell what type of soil you have.

Raised Beds for Soggy Yards

If correcting an existing in-ground soil seems daunting, raised beds might be a solution since you are able to control what soil fills the bed. Raised bed gardens usually drain really well and can be a better solution than in-ground gardens if you know your area holds water. But if you’re still seeing water pooling and not draining from your raised bed – this can be a concern. Standing water can lead to root rot. Create ways to get the water to drain away from the plants – dig a trench downhill, or create plastic water drains to redirect the water. Some tips for improving drainage in raised beds.


Damp, humid conditions breed fungal and bacterial disease. Watch for powdery mildew (white circular powdery spots on leaves, stems or even fruit) which will attack older leaves first causing them to yellow and dry out. Treat it quickly with neem oil or fugnicides with potassium bicarbonate. If not treated quickly, you will need to remove the plant entirely to avoid spreading on the wind to other plants.


Slugs are important in the natural cycle since they feed birds and mammals – but in the garden the slugs eat plants! And slugs love moist weather. Eliminate hiding places (boards or cardboard), sprinkle Epson salts on the soil, or create sawdust barriers around plants, as slugs don’t like crawling over dry scratchy surfaces.

Photo Attribution: People photo created by prostooleh -

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