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Wet Feet
by Mengmeng Gu - posted 10/27/17

This flowerbed is often flooded by excess sprinkler water. Mulch does not prevent sedge from growing, which invades neighboring areas. • After growing two years in a flowerbed with a waterspout, this crapemyrtle had roots growing out of the original planting hole. There was too much water!


Cool-season bulbs like Cyclamen and hyacinth (Hyacinthus spp.) definitely do not like wet feet and require good drainage.

Too much water is a fairly common problem in many flowerbeds in this region, where we may get about 4 inches of rain every month between late fall and early spring. Four inches of rain wouldn’t be considered “too much” water during the summer, when plants are actively growing and transpiring. During the cool season, temperatures are low so water loss through evaporation is limited, and plants are not actively growing, which does not take up a lot of water. Without good drainage, you may have a problem with too much water. Flowerbeds could be flooded and waterlogged by rainwater from a waterspout if the waterspout conveniently ends in a flowerbed. And sometimes the flowerbed is in a location that collects water, and the sprinkler system is just a little bit too generous.


There won’t be too much water at a high spot like this where these grasses are.

Generally it is much easier to avoid potential problems through careful planning. There are mainly three ways to deal with too much water.

1. Do not plant at the lowest spot. Don’t fight nature. Use river rocks to create a dry creek bed or other decorative element.

2. Create a rain garden. Rain gardens have grown in popularity in recent years. They capture water and increase percolation to recharge groundwater. Rain gardens require careful planning, not just throwing some water-tolerant plants together.

3. Or you can just install flowerbeds at a higher spot in the landscape. Then you don’t ever have to worry about too much water, which tend to run away from the spot. Drip irrigation may be needed to water plants in these beds during dry seasons.

     River rocks can be integrated in the landscape. • Raised beds are a simple solution to deal with too much water. It does not need to be too high, as long as excess water has a place to settle outside of the bed. Aesthetics should be considered to protect the integrity of the landscape.


A version of this article appeared in a print version of Carolina Gardener Volume 27 Number 9.
Photography courtesy of Mengmeng Gu.


Mengmeng Gu, Ph.D., is an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Previously, Dr. Gu was an extension agent in Starkville for six years, where she conducted research on ornamental plants and taught a course on greenhouse management.