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What to do if the garden is under water? Preventive measures & tips in case of floods

Heavy rain causes a lot of damage. Especially basements are often affected , especially when it is high water. But other areas are also quickly flooded and are then under water for a long time. So also the garden. Is your garden flooded after a long period of heavy rain? Then you should act to protect all those plants from dying! But what can you actually do? We explain how to protect your garden from flooding, what you can do once the garden is under water and how to take care of it afterwards.

Just as your potted plants don’t tolerate waterlogging, neither do garden plants. And while the natural soil conditions outdoors usually allow enough excess water to seep through to prevent such waterlogging, there may be exceptional cases when a particularly persistent rainy period has just arrived. Clay or loamy soils also absorb water more heavily, so the garden can quickly become submerged. And sometimes it’s the terrain itself that causes recurring problems and simply tends to hold water. Flooded areas and puddles, however, can lead to root rot and ruin all the loving effort and time you’ve devoted to the garden. So you have flooding in your garden – what’s the best thing to do? First of all, prevention is better than cure:

Garden under water – flood protection in the garden as a preventive measure.

Garden under water - tips to drain it dry

If you know that your garden is often affected by waterlogging, you can prevent a major disaster by taking a few measures. You’ll have to decide for yourself which ones are most feasible to implement in your case. These are your options for preventing your garden from being flooded, or at least reducing the frequency:

Mix soil for heavy soils

Mix soil with compost and sand to improve its permeability in beds

Soils with a high clay or loam content have the advantage of retaining water longer, keeping your plants from drying out, especially during the hot summer months. However, during heavy rainfall, they are also quickly saturated with water and can cause waterlogging and flooding in the garden. You can prevent a waterlogged garden by simply mixing compost and sand into the soil every spring when you prepare your beds and also in between. This will make the soil more permeable.

Prevent garden under water with raised beds

Avoid garden under water with raised beds with drainage

Raised beds not only ensure that your plants are not even in the water, but are elevated. You can also mix the soil yourself according to your wishes . So this also keeps the plants away from heavy soils, if your garden is characterized by just such. So in case of heavy rain, the water can comfortably seep through the soil you have mixed (preferably with a drainage layer) and the roots of your plants are protected. Perfect to prevent the beds in the garden from being under water.

Lay a drainage

Have drainage properly installed by professionals.


Drains are more suitable for soils that tend to form waterlogging, to avoid a garden under water. In this case, pipes are laid in the ground through which excess water can drain away in a bundled manner. However, anyone opting for such a solution should proceed with caution and consult an expert to be on the safe side. Indeed, care must be taken not to deprive the soil of groundwater and make it too dry. An expert is able to take samples from the soil and accordingly assess the correct drainage.

Drainage under beds of gravel as a solution for impermeable soils

Another option would be to lay a drainage layer of gravel and sand yourself – as with a raised bed. For this, you dig up the soil of the future bed, lay the layer of gravel and sand and fill the bed again. You can also take advantage of this to mix the soil with compost and sand, as described above, to obtain a more permeable composition.

Loosen the soil regularly

Loosen soil regularly to prevent flooding in the garden


Regularly digging up the soil is also a good preventative measure against a garden under water. While this is not possible for lawns, you can protect your flower and vegetable beds this way. Use a hoe or a so-called cultivator for this purpose. The resulting airy soil makes it easier for water to seep into the soil.

Prevention of garden under water – slopes, ditches and holes

Build ditches against a garden under water as a preventative measure

Design beds with a slight slope, build drainage ditches and water holes (40 x 40 cm). How many such ditches, pipes and drains you will need depends mainly on the amount of rain that falls regularly in your area.

Regular aeration of the lawn

Scarify the lawn and aerate it to improve its absorption capacity

All the measures already mentioned are not suitable for lawns, as they would ruin it either temporarily or permanently. But somehow you must be able to protect it, if it is constantly under water in the garden? You can aerate it regularly by scarifying it. This involves cutting the lawn or the soil a few millimeters deep with the help of a scarifier. However, get good advice on how to do this, as there are a few things to keep in mind. You can then poke small holes in the lawn and fill them with sand. This improves aeration and makes the firm soil a little more permeable.

Replace lawn

To avoid flooded lawns, plant a lawn replacement of ground covers

Especially if the lawn is the big weak point in the garden, you could also simply consider a lawn substitute or at least choose a grass variety that is not sensitive to moisture. Otherwise, walkable groundcovers are also suitable as an alternative , although of course you should also make sure to choose varieties that can tolerate a lot of moisture.

When the garden is under water

How can you support the drainage?

Garden under water - what to do against flooding of lawn and beds

Do you already have high water in your garden, so it’s too late to take preventative measures? Especially if puddles have even formed, you should act and do something about the garden under water. But for this, of course, wait until the rain has stopped. In addition, you can first observe a few days: if the water gradually withdraws slowly, you can proceed to the following tips. If the water accumulates, presses against the wall of the house or even threatens to run into the house, a pump with which you can pump out excess water is the first step. Such a basement or house renovation is an expensive thing. Therefore, in this case, the plants in the garden should take second place.

Important, in the case of a garden under water : no matter what measures you choose or which are necessary, try to move as little as possible in the garden. This is because your weight will only compact the soil more and your efforts will have a counterproductive effect. You should also be aware that you will most likely not be able to save some of your plants, despite a quick response.

Poke holes

Poke holes in the soil as drains to combat excess water

Soil that is merely severely sodden can simply be dug over to facilitate water absorption. However, this is not possible for a lawn or if entire puddles have formed – after all, you don’t want to ruin your lawn, you want to save it. In this case, you can use a metal rod to push deep holes into the soil. Of course, these are preferably located in the deepest parts of the area. You can make the holes wider by moving the rod back and forth a little. Then pull it out again. In this way, you are making drainage holes, so to speak, through which the water will hopefully drain better.

Skim off the water

Skim with buckets when small garden areas are affected

If this doesn’t work, you can also skim the water off with a bucket. A tedious, yet effective measure if it is a smaller flooded area. After you skim the water off, the deepened areas in the garden may fill with water again. The soaked soil will continue to release excess water. Thus, you may have to do it all over again a few hours later.

If the garden is under water and threatening the house, pump out

You can make this easier by using a pump, especially if you have a large garden area. Which of the two variants is more worthwhile for you or whether it is worth investing in a pump, you must of course assess for yourself.

Dig trenches in the lawn to collect excess rainwater

To prevent you from constantly flattening your lawn or soil while skimming, you can also simply make a small sacrifice and dig a pit at the lowest point of the lawn. This doesn’t need to be too big either. The goal is to get the water to flow into this pit and collect in it so you can conveniently skim it off. It’s a relatively quick way to take the pressure off the rest of the lawn when the garden is under water. You can refill the holes later and seed new sod, which is better than a completely drowned lawn.

The garden after flooding

Drain flooded gardens with these tips and tricks

Getting rid of the water is one thing, of course. But you’ll probably need to do more to repair the garden. For example, there may be snapped plant stems or fallen branches here and there. Cut stems with sharp pruning shears and dispose of them. After all, if these are left in the wet, it can lead to mold. Also check the trees for broken branches and twigs.

Flooded front garden due to heavy rain or flood - gardening tips against the disaster

Most likely, the garden was under water after it flooded heavily. The water currents often wash away soil as well, creating hollows. It is also possible that the delicate roots of plants were exposed in the process. Such places, of course, you should now fill up again.

Proper garden maintenance after flooding