Do you have puddles of water sitting around for long
periods after a rain? If so, you probably have a
drainage problem. In well-drained soils, most of the
water should be gone within a few hours. Now, if you
experience a major deluge that the Weather Channel makes
big deal about, it may take longer even on well-drained
soils. But, normally, rainwater should disappear into
the soil shortly after a shower or storm.
There are a several ways to determine if you have poor
drainage. One is to figure out what kind of soil you
have on your site. As mentioned previously, soils with a
large amount of clay tend to be poorly drained. To do a
simple test, just take a hand full of moist soil and
squeeze it tightly in your hand. When you open your
fist, the soil should crumble and fall apart on its own.
If it stays together in a solid clump, you have a lot of
Another, more elaborate way to measure your drainage is
to do a seepage or percolation test.
1. Dig a hole 18 inches deep and about 6
inches wide. A post hole digger
is an excellent tool for this purpose.
2. Fill the hole with water to the top in late
afternoon or evening.
Overnight, all or part of this water will move into the
surrounding soil and
cause it to "swell".
3. In the morning, refill the hole with
water to the top.
4. Insert a yardstick into the hole and
measure the depth of the water.
5. 12 hours later, mark and record the depth
of the water.
6. Divide the number of inches difference in
depth by 12 which will give you the
average inches of water lost per hour.
the water levels drops:
- less than 1/2 inch per hour
your soil drains poorly
- 1/2 to 1 inch per hour, your
soil is moderately drained
- more than 1 inch per hour, you
have well-drained soil