Simple Solutions For Too Much Water

Standing water in the vegie patch - the water comes from the greenhouse roof. It needs a gutter

Drainage is absolutely key for plant health. Our crops must have oxygenated soil to be at peak performance. Water displaces air, you see, so if your soil is soggy, it is also airless. Soil biology thumbs it’s nose at conditions such as these, and herein lies the deep reason for the drainage – without soil life, there cannot be above ground abundance.

There are, of course, degrees of wetness. From vegie patches that are underwater for long periods – a loud cry for drainage to be resolved, to soil that’s simply a heavy clay – awaiting transformation to a delicious vegie-growing loam.

Start by doing this simple drainage test. Ideally when soils are at their wettest. In this way you’ll understand your worst case scenario and can then shape your land to cope with it.

The great news is that most solutions are simple, but lets first, gather the info we need to do a bang up job of it.

Where is the excess water coming from?

The pertinent question here is – where is the water coming from?

There’s only one way to get to the root cause, and that’s to go out into the rain and track your water flow back to its source, or atleast where it enters your property. Perhaps it rushes in off the road, or you have a high water table or its a simple case of organising the downpipes or fixing gutters. Whatever the case, step one is to figure it all out.

Take your time here. Embrace the wet weather – it’ll teach you all you need to know. Talk to neighbours – local knowledge is gold! Look up council websites to better understand local waterways and tables.

Bear in mind that water flows from high point to low. Straight lines and impermeable hard surfaces like roads, concrete pads and driveways give it momentum. And herein lies the reason behind all our watery problems – this fast flowing water has no time to soak into the soil.

Tanks, Gutters + Overflows

water pouring from the overflow pipe on the watertank

Two of the most common reasons for soggy ground, is broken guttering and overflow from downpipes or water tanks. What an epic difference to your state of your soil when the water no longer pounds on the ground.

Set yourself up so that your tanks and gutters can handle big rain events.

Make fixing gutters, putting in tanks and sorting overflows your first port of call. Potentially a big project, so tick away with it. Check with your local council for water tank subsidies. They really should be.

Continue the overflow into simple mulch drains, that preferably run along contour across your property. It can be useful to use your paths for this. Either end in a pond, or a mulch basin planted with water loving crops, or a wetland, planted up with flaxes, cabbage trees, watercress + taro. Frogs and dragonflies will join the party! Create a hum of biodiversity. You could do this in community with your neighbours – all send your water to one magnificient wetland! Imagine the life!

Simple solutions

densely planted natives alongside the driveway to capture water
Densely planted natives alongside our driveway go along way to soaking up our high rainfall.

Our goal with water, is to slow it down and give it time to sink into our landscape. From there it can be filtered, bioremediated and slowly released – as per natures grand design.

The 2 simplest ways are to:

  • Improve soil. Compost and mulch increase the organic matter in soil, and the higher the content of organic matter, the more water soil holds.
  • Plant heaps of trees and perennials. Big root systems hold onto heaps of water. (Bear this all in mind if you remove trees or clean up fallen trees – leave the roots behind!) Trees go one step further and catch a good percentage of rain in their canopy before it even hits the ground. Use this to your advantage alongside driveways, roads and spots where water puddles or ponds in winter/ spring.

As your trees grow and your soil improves, you’ll start to notice a big reduction in stormwater runoff, seasonal puddles and soggy areas.

Where water is coming in of the road or a slope, intercept it as close to where it enters your property as you can. From there, turn its attention sideways by catching it in a simple ditch or drain, and redirect it elsewhere like passive irrigation, pond, wetland or rain garden.

This sideways pause is so valuable – slowing the flow down allows water to seep into the soil, and go through natural filtration processes which clean it up before it arrives in our rivers and streams. Protecting them, and the end point of all our runoff – the ocean.