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Wet weather garden survival guide

Martyn Cox / 13 June 2012

There’s nothing like British weather to exasperate gardeners. One minute we’re having to find ways of combating a widespread hosepipe ban, which followed a long period of drought, and the next we’re wondering whether our plots will survive weeks of incessant rain. Fortunately there are ways to minimise the damage that copious rainfall can have on a garden. So, grab your brolly, put on your Wellington boots and take some action.

Watering can, umbrella and Wellington boots in a wet garden
Grab your brolly and Wellington boots and minimise garden damage caused by copious rainfall

Beds and borders in wet weather

Some lofty perennials will collapse due to driving rainfall, while soft-stemmed, clump formers topped by masses of summer flowers will flop as water builds up on the top of plants - a few will bounce back when the weather improves, but others will look like they’ve had the stuffing knocked out of them. Those who shored up these plants in early spring are probably feeling a little bit smug now, but don’t despair if you didn’t get round to it. Use hoop supports or stake individual stems now and the chances are you can minimise damage.

Supporting plants will also help to prevent them from being dislodged in waterlogged soil. However, if the roots of plants have been completely submerged under water for several days then prune back top growth when water has drained away. This will ensure it has less leafy growth to support, giving it a better chance of survival.

Trees and shrubs in wet weather

The foliage of evergreen shrubs can turn a sickly yellow when they’ve sat in saturated soil that’s had all of the nutrients washed out of it. Restore the vigour of plants by giving them a dose of liquid seaweed fertiliser. If you’re planning on planting trees and shrubs in the autumn, plant them on raised mounds to help improve drainage.

Plants in pots in wet weather

Plants in pots are vulnerable to rain. Provide shelter for them by moving containers into the rain shadow created by a wall or fence. Place pot feet, bricks or large stones under containers to raise them off the ground, which will allow excess water to drain away. Make sure any saucers are removed from underneath pots or roots will ‘drown’ in the puddle of water that builds up.

Lawns in wet weather

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t mow the lawn in wet weather. In fact, don’t even walk on the lawn, unless necessary, as the pressure can cause structural damage, especially to those grown from seed in spring. Most established lawns can cope with excessive rainfall, but if puddles do build up, try and improve the drainage in these compacted areas by spiking or aerating in autumn.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.