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Does Mulch Help with Drainage? (5 Ways to Use Mulch to Prevent Water Pooling)

Does Mulch Help with Drainage? (5 Ways to Use Mulch to Prevent Water Pooling)

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Many gardeners, myself included, use mulch to provide their gardens and plants with a bunch of benefits.

These advantages range from reducing weeds to regulating soil temperature and even reducing disease. But does mulch help with drainage?

The short answer is yes. Mulch can do a great job in improving the drainage of your garden. However, you need to use it correctly to reap this substantial benefit.

I’ll guide you on how to do just that in this post.

Can You Use Mulch for Drainage?

You can use mulch to improve the drainage of your garden.

Using the right type of mulch can play a significant role in reducing soil compaction and water pooling. These are two major drainage-related issues.

Mulch prevents water pooling by improving the soil structure.

Similarly, it reduces the probability of soil compaction and erosion by creating enough space between particles to enhance water absorption.

How Does Mulch Reduce Water Pooling?

If you’ve been a gardener or landscaper for a while, you’ve probably encountered water pooling issues in your garden at least once.

These problems arise for a few reasons. One of the main ones is when one or more areas in your garden lose the capability of draining water because of the deterioration in their structure.

As a result, these areas end up forming a pool of water, mud, or both.

Nonetheless, by adding mulch to the soil, you’ll enhance its structure and improve water flow through it. This will reduce the probability of having this unpleasant issue.

How to Use Mulch to Prevent Water Pooling

To use mulch to prevent the accumulation of water in certain areas of your garden, here are some simple steps to follow:

1 – Determine Areas Susceptible to Pooling

Start the process by determining the areas that experience regular water pooling.

Highlight these parts by surrounding them with any object, a garden hose, for example. This will allow you to focus on these specific areas.

2 – Choose a Suitable Mulch Type

There are multiple mulch types, both organic and inorganic, that can do a great job of reducing water pooling.

Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that organic mulch breaks down gradually. So, you’ll need to replace it on an annual basis.

Conversely, inorganic mulch can last significantly longer but doesn’t provide the same health benefits for the soil as organic types.

Given that, here are the best organic and inorganic mulch types to pick from:

Recommended organic mulchRecommended inorganic mulch
StrawDecomposed granite
ManureProcessed glass
CompostRecycled rubber
Wood chips
Grass shavings

3 – Apply Mulch to the Pooling Areas

After selecting the ideal mulch type, it’s time to apply it to the soil. To do this, spread a layer of mulch over the surface of the pooling area until you completely fill and hide it.

You’ll start to notice a remarkable improvement in your garden surface drainage shortly after doing this.

Nonetheless, you also need to fix the extreme density and incorrect slope of the deep soil layers to completely solve the pooling issue.

To do so, move to the next step.

4 – Test the Soil and Fix its Texture

Dig 8 to 10 inches of soil using a shovel to reach the area under the compacted soil layer. At this point, hold a portion of the soil and squeeze it with your hands to test its workability.

If the soil crumbles, this is an indication that it has good drainage. Conversely, if the soil is high in moisture, it’ll form a ball shape.

If the latter situation applies, you need to incorporate organic material into these deep soil layers to improve their drainage.

This organic material can be mulch, compost, or manure.

5 – Direct the Mulch Slope Correctly

After adding the mulch to the soil, you should use a rake to direct its slope away from the pooling area.

Equally important, you need to direct the runoff to flow away from your house to avoid damaging your property.

How Does Mulch Reduce Soil Compaction?

If your garden’s soil is highly compacted, this is a significant cause of drainage problems.

You and I know that compacted soil can severely affect the health and growth of plants. It’s also highly related to the standing water issue we’ve just discussed.

The reason is that compacted soil limits water movement and absorption. This increases the likelihood of forming water pools and runoffs.

Luckily, mulching your soil will protect it from compacting by enhancing its texture and creating spaces between particles. I highly recommend mulching your compacted soil with jute or bark.

To do this, you need first to spot areas with compacted soil in your garden.

To determine them, try to dig in multiple spaces in the garden using a shovel. You’ll notice that compacted parts are difficult to dig. In addition, they include clods that are hard to break apart.

After finding them, you should mulch the soil of compacted areas to improve them.

Final Thoughts

Does mulch help with drainage? Mulch has an incredible impact on improving soil drainage.

That’s why incorporating mulch into your garden’s soil can make all the difference in minimizing soil compaction and water pooling.

That said, ensure to follow the instructions mentioned above when adding mulch to your garden to get the desired results.


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