Poor Drainage

Description: Poor drainage is a common landscape problem and is considered by many to be one of the biggest killers of landscape plants. In areas with poor drainage water moves slowly and soils are easily waterlogged causing root decline, root rots, and eventual death of all but the most tolerant wetland species.

Natural poor drainage may be due to heavy clay in the subsoil. Typically, a soil contains half solid materials and half pore space, filled by air and water. In poorly drained soils most of the small voids are filled with water for long periods of time, leaving too little air.

Symptoms: Consistently wet soils often have an odor caused by bacteria in the soil. Dull colored or gray soils can also be an indicator of poorly drained soils.

Poor drainage can be a result of construction damage. When topsoil is removed for building, all that is left is subsoil. Heavy equipment compacts the soil, reducing air space. Improper grading of the site can lead to ponding in low areas, as well as runoff water from roofs or downspouts. Sometimes the problem can be solved by grading the surface to allow runoff or by diverting excess water.

In soils that are consistently wet, fungal root diseases can affect trees that are not suited for this condition. However, there are tree options that may work if the drainage cannot be corrected. River birch is a tree that tolerates wet conditions.

Action: When a tree is being negatively impacted by poor drainage, one solution possibility is vertical mulching. Vertical mulching is the process of making many holes in the soil of the root zone of a particular tree with the purpose of creating many entryways for air, moisture, and nutrients to reach the roots of a given tree. This process improves the overall health and vigor of any tree.

Thank you for reviewing this information. Schneider Tree Care is committed to preserving and enhancing the quality of your property through tree care education and services. We employ professionally trained and certified arborists who are available to meet with you for a consultation at no charge. If you have any questions or need additional information regarding the health of your trees, please contact us.

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