Improve drainage in your backyard

ARTICLE Tom Kinross

In areas of high rainfall, drainage needs to be at the forefront of the gardener’s mind. If water constantly pools in the garden bed it could be a sign of poor drainage, which makes it incredibly difficult to grow plants, vegetables and fruit.

With a lack of adequate drainage the garden becomes over-saturated with water; starving the roots and the soil’s valuable micro-organisms of vital oxygen. This makes it just as difficult to carry out necessary cultivation work as it would if the garden was deprived of water.

With this in mind, here are a few solutions to aid drainage so your soil remains healthy and your plants, veggies and fruit can flourish.


The quickest and easiest solution for a poorly drained garden bed is to incorporate a generous amount of compost to the soil. Poorly drained gardens often have weak soil structure that prevents plants from absorbing the required nutrients; compost assists this by neutralising pH levels and introducing vital nutrients to the soil that aid the growth of plants.

Compost has both immediate and long-term positive impacts on soil structure and can be the simple solution to a lack of drainage.

Install a raised garden bed

Another relatively simple solution is to install raised garden beds. This can be an effective option for people with smaller yards and is ideal for areas with heavy seasonal rainfall.

Make permanent garden beds with sides of brick, stone blocks or railway sleepers or alternatively use planks of wood or corrugated iron for a less expensive and temporary solution.

Raising the garden bed by at least 22 centimetres allows the roof zone of most plants to grow in well-drained conditions regardless of soil conditions or quality.

Remember to keep a gap or at least 45 centimetres between garden beds for wheelbarrow access and put a layer of rubble in the base of the bed before filling it with soil. This aids drainage further. Once you have filled the bed with soil, let it settle for two weeks before planting anything.

Pipe drainage

If the garden bed is constantly water-logged and there’s nowhere for the water to go, then installing pipe drains is the only option.

However, digging trenches and laying drains is labour-intensive and requires the use of proper equipment, so if you’re unsure of anything it’s a good idea to consult a professional before proceeding.

You might be interested in reading: How to keep your garden free from aphids.

This article by Tom Kinross featured on page 34 of Issue 011 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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If you would like to discuss drainage options for your outdoor renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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