Water drainage

We have bought a small home in Alabama near an underground river. When we have a lot of rain the ground surrounding the house is very mushy....my hope is to finally have a flower garden and herbs and a cottage garden with old fashioned flowers and a climbing rose, as this most likely will be our last house.
The old house, built in 1944, has several large gardenia bushes, a row of boxwoods, blueberry bushes and a row of overgrown euonymus fortunei shrubs with the yellow leaves. I would like to remove the euonymus bushes.
We need ideas on ways to direct excess rain water and I need ideas about where to begin a new garden in an old yard. How should I begin? A neighbor has said it is too wet to have a garden:(
  7 answers
  • Moxie Moxie on Dec 24, 2013
    You could always consider a creative raised garden and potted garden...you could also dig up the yard, place perforated tiles (like pipes) to collect the water and direct it elsewhere but I suspect if the issue is the underground water table is high, you really are not going to change that. You could also try adding mounds of dirt to plant in to raise your flower beds more naturally and use 8" -12" of stone under your plantings to allow drainage. (must still be above the water table) Check with a local well drilling company and find out what the normal water table is in your area (they are really up on this kind of thing) and that will help you know.
  • Diane Diane on Dec 24, 2013
    Moxie, Thank you fot the excellent advice and ideas for how I may have a garden in my new/old home. I will find out soon about the normal water table and proceed from there. Blessings to you on this Christmas Eve, Diane
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Dec 25, 2013
    I agree with Moxie. It sounds like given your location, wet soil is going to be a given. You may be able to investigate improving the situation with French drains, but the other strategy is to capitalize on what you have and to build a bog garden. Many plants thrive in those conditions, and they are often excellent for attracting birds to your garden. I don't know how far you are from Birmingham, but there is a bog garden at the Birmingham Botanical Garden that you might want to visit for inspiration. Put one in and then invite that neighbor over to see how beautiful it is. (And post photos for us as well.)
    • Diane Diane on Dec 25, 2013
      @Douglas Hunt Douglas, that is a wonderful idea, and we are definitely close to the Birmingham area. It will be very interesting to visit the bog garden. In addition to attracting birds, which is a very big plus, I am thinking that possibly spring peepers would like a bog garden also, another plus. Thank you for your suggestion. I will post pictures!
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Dec 26, 2013
    Aside from the garden issue.....I would also take care to insure your basement/crawl space stays dry. Sump pumps and French drains help to lead the water away from your home and foundation into a ditch or the like. We had a LOT of high ground water flooding and mold and mildew in the home is not good.
  • 169756 169756 on Dec 26, 2013
    I agree with Douglas. Bog gardens can be so beautiful.
  • Debbie Darche Debbie Darche on Dec 27, 2013
    Diane, I live on the other side of B'ham with similar problems and the best advice is Go Native!For trees there are several magnolias, maples, and blackgums. Checkout itea, fothergilla, and the native hollies for very wet spots and native azaleas and hydrangeas for the drier spots. For flowers, check out spiderwort, rudbeckia, the irises, some native asters and in the fall, you can't beat the show that ironweed, swamp sunflowers and cardinal flower will put on. And then throw in many ferns and native grasses that can take the wet for a little variety. And the best part-low maintainance.
    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Dec 28, 2013
      @Debbie Darche Excellent suggestions from Debbie. There are also azaleas that like wet conditions, notably the native swamp azalea, Rhododendron viscosum var. viscosum.
  • Diane Diane on Dec 28, 2013
    Thank you for the names of different things to plant which should grow well in our area. I am looking forward to seeing some of them in a garden shop or nursery .
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