Planting in soil that does not drain well

jcatblum(7)January 24, 2010

Long story short. We have ummm-- lets say a concrete patio (came with the house). In the middle of the large concrete area is a bed that is 12 ft x 6ft. When we bought the house the area was full of lava rocks, but I removed all of those this weekend. The area will get at least 6 hours of light a day. I am just unsure what to plant in the bed!

I feel very certain it will not drain well with concrete all around it. DH says not a problem it will drain just fine (but honestly where will the water go since it cement 100% around the bed).

Any thoughts?

Thanks so much


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First the drainage will depend on what kind of soil you have. Assuming there is nothing under the soil in the bed if you have a sandy loam you will be fine. As water will drain straight down in the sand. I have sand and have no problem with drainage. But if it is clay like Dawn's then you have an issue. My first inclination would be to make a raised bed on top of the bed that is there. And do you want to plant flowers or veggies in this area? I will wait for your answer to this question before I write more. And sure some others will comment also. This is just my opinions. Which them and two dollars will buy you a cup of coffee at a few places. Jay

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 6:03PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Does the planter box have an open bottom that sits on the soil? If so, I don't anticipate drainage would be a huge problem. If the planter box sits on top of the concrete patio and has a concrete 'bottom', then I guess we'd have to think about that and discuss it some more.

Also how 'tall' is the planter box? A foot? Two feet? More? The taller the box is raised above grade, the better if the box has a concrete bottom.

Finally, is there soil already in the box or was there nothing there except the lava rocks?


    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 8:23PM
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I would LOVE to plant veggies in the area.

There is no bottom to the bed where the soil is, I am going to try and dig a little deeper to be 100% for sure. The soil is pretty wet right now, but as far as I can tell it is pretty rich normal soil. Once it dries I will know for sure.

The bed of dirt sits level with the concrete area. I did ask DH about building it up so it would drian better but he just think I am a crazy women wanting him to do more work!

Oh & under the lava rocks I found thick black plasstic & landscape fabirc along with a tiny bit of mulch. The mulch was under the landscape fabric, I am guessing there use to be a bunch of it, but it rotted away. Not for sure though!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 9:23PM
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Christina I feel you should be fine. If you experience problems this year with it staying too wet you can always build it up later. But doubt you have too. Jay

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Since the bottom of the planter is soil, I think it will drain just fine, and likely it will be a great place to plant some veggies.

When the soil dries out more, you might want to add some compost or composted manure to it in order to put some nutrition back into the soil to feed your veggie plants. The addition of organic matter like compost or manure also will help the soil in the planter to drain more quickly.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 10:02AM
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Christina, if the only water the bed will get is rain, it should drain fine. If runoff from the house or patio sheets into it, that might be more of a problem during rainy spring and fall weather, and an advantage during the droughty summer months. The natural movement of rainwater through soil is downward, so as mentioned the most important consideration is the type of soil you have and whether there is a barriar somewhere down there. If you're worried about what is down there you could always dig a hole and do a perc test.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 11:38AM
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I am just going to throw some pumpkin seeds in the space this yr & seed what happens. I have seen pumpkins grow in some pretty unexpected places! I will add lots of compost & such to try and get the soil in good shape. If pumpkins work well this yr then I will plan to put something else there next time around. We have had the house for 4 yrs now, the only time I have seen water pooled in this area is the yr we had the MAJOR rain that flooded everything the whole month of June.

Thanks so much for your input!

I think one of the biggest challenges I might have is keeping the kids from ridding their bikes threw the middle of my new found bed!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 12:11PM
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