Asked on Dec 14, 2016

I need help! My flower bed is a watery mess!

I have a flower bed in front of my house. I love the idea but have one big problem. Anytime it rains, it becomes a muddy swimming pool! What can I do with this area? I have tried a pond but there is not enough sunlight to keep it maintained and of course it gets flooded. Maybe just plant grass?
  34 answers
  • Geoffrey Watson Geoffrey Watson on Dec 14, 2016

    The first thing you need to do is straighten the rain crock. The water coming down the drain spot is missing it except during periods of heavy rains. Rain is running down behind. If you wanted to, you could turn this area into a rain garden. The city of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio had a low problem area in a section of the city where there was no place to put the rain water. They put in a rain garden. There are special plants that can withstand too much rain and too little rain. They took a poor area and turned it into a thing of beauty. I am sure if you look up rain garden you will find out a ton of information on what plants to use. Good luck!

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 14, 2016

    You will have the same problem if you plant grass as well. If the water situation can not be corrected,you can make a container planting garden based o your zone and seasonal change outs.

  • Lori Verni-Fogarsi Lori Verni-Fogarsi on Dec 15, 2016

    The first step is to eliminate the water accumulation problem which is because your bed sits lower than the surrounding patio and slants toward instead of away from the house. I would first scrape up/remove the existing plants, stones, etc. then put down black landscape fabric over the whole thing, then bring in topsoil to bring up the height of the bed a little higher than the patio AND be sure to pack it down firmly, and on an angle so it slants away from the house. (When in doubt, use more always need more than you think!) I like really low maintenance landscaping and would not want the soil to now run onto my patio so I would then put a good layer of decorative pea gravel over the whole thing, again being sure to slant it so it's higher against the house to make the water run off. Given that you've had such a water problem, I would then wait a bit to make sure the water is draining better. (If not, then build up more.) If so, then I'd go ahead and plant some appropriate plants, like perhaps some ground cover type plants that like water and shade. Look up ones that are good for your growing zone. (Just scrape aside the rocks, make a hole with a spade, plant, then push the rocks back around the base of the plant.) You could also just leave it a rock garden and put a statue, a garden bench, etc. Good luck!

    • Dot D Collett Dot D Collett on Dec 15, 2016

      All good ideas, Lori,

      But First! Brick and mortar siding should not be below soil level.

      Second a good growing soil mix has lots of organic material that slowly decomposes, feeds the plants, and lowers the level of the soil. Mulch or compost needs to be added every year or two. It will usually travel at first making a mess on walkways.

      Solutions: make it a raised bed using bricks or wall stone with a trough between it and the brick siding. Excess rain water not caught by a rain barrel can flow down the trough and away. ( if there is a question of water leaking under your foundation the use a 4" solid pipe to drain it past the house. )

      Put in a larger and better designed rain barrel ( raised higher off ground) to capture some of the downspout water to water your garden.

  • Shawna Bailey Shawna Bailey on Dec 15, 2016

    I agree with all the comments, proper drainage is key.

    • See 3 previous
    • Shawna Bailey Shawna Bailey on Dec 18, 2016

      Lol. Melissa I love a good pun

  • Rozmund Rozmund on Dec 15, 2016

    How about sending us another pic of the stone slab running parallel to the "water" problem...I am thinking...

  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Dec 15, 2016

    I agree that you have to fix the drainage issue. I cannot tell from your picture but rerouting that downspout may be needed or an additional one either to the front of that wall to the right or to the left of the area shown in the picture. If that is not possible, I would consider putting in a french drain under the area where the rain barrel is and in reality that rain barrel is too small . Yes you do have negative grade in the area as well and need to build up the soil to move the water away from the house. Last but not least you need to decide what you want there. Some plants need/like more water than others so a reputable nursery person is a blessing.

  • Linda Linda on Dec 15, 2016

    I personally would run the home drainage underground under the existing flagstone and beyond.

    Then I would level and fill the existing space with the flagstone for an extended patio and put up an eye catching architectural wrought iron metalwork piece in the brick wall and either plants in interesting pots and maybe a water feature and perhaps some outdoor furniture.

    I think a water feature would look wonderful from the window! Just a thought...

    • Melissa V Melissa V on Dec 16, 2016

      Hmm, some bamboo in a large pot would be great...even if she didn't pave, I would still "plant" the bamboo in a container to keep it corralled. Very pretty in a water feature.

  • Deborah Hale Deborah Hale on Dec 15, 2016

    I would find another home for that rain barrel and attach a LONG flexible tube to run down the side of the house and empty out to where it can properly drain without flooding. Going under the flagstone is one option, running it in another direction won't be as attractive but certainly cheaper.

  • Melissa V Melissa V on Dec 15, 2016

    Hey Angela, I guess you now know about the drainage issue causing your wet area out front. My question is (I'm guessing that side wall is the garage) have you noticed any water/dampness inside the garage? This problem could be causing more problems than just a garden issue. This may sound extreme, but if it is affecting the foundation, then you may have to dig it all out and see what's going on deeper. The advice from these Hometalk commenters is correct-the hanging drainage pipe has got to go and an underground/French drain needs to be installed allowing water to drain away from the house. You didn't indicate where you live, which can make a difference in diagnosing particular situations. Good Luck!

    PS-Does your water spigot shut off nice and tight-no drips?

  • Pat11183342 Pat11183342 on Dec 15, 2016

    Next time it rains, go look at the gutters (assuming you have them) if the water flows over the gutters rather than down into gutters, you don't have big enough gutters for the surface area they are serving. Get bigger gutters and make sure the water is released on the other side of your garden bed. Also you may need to get some sort of landscaping to raise your flower bed. But I can't stress this enough the water has to be directed away from your house foundation or your going to have worse problems than a wet flower bed.

    There are lots of plants that like moist soil, but fix the flooding first, than determine if it's going to still be a fairly wet area.

    Spend money to protect your house first, than you can add plants. Astilbes, hosta's are shade plants that like moisture

    Avoid irises, and other rhizome and bulbs, if it sunny and wet. They will rot.

    Maybe a butterfly garden (Google for plant types)

    • See 1 previous
    • A A on Dec 19, 2016

      I agree; divert the water away from your foundation. I would also raise the bed a bit, after resolving the water issue, just to keep soil/mulch in place and to add some hardscape interest. If you're not sure what to plant, start with a few pots. When I first started gardening I used almost all pots and it's evolved from there as I learned what works in my garden and what I do and don't like.

  • Bernadette Staal Bernadette Staal on Dec 15, 2016

    I think you should just make it a raised garden bed build a wall around the area, fill the bottom with gravel to assist with drainage then add quality top soil and compost and your new plants will thrive. Maybe look for plants that don't mind having wet feet and consider having some drainage hole in the bottom of the wall, thus allowing any water build up to escape.

  • Ann Smitt Ann Smitt on Dec 16, 2016

    Call in an expert to re-grade the dirt-strip near your home. Have you had your gutters cleaned? If not clean them out and move the Rain Barrel farther away from it's current spot. Extend the down spout AWAY from the house at leaste 3-feet. This area screams PATIO to me. Have complimentary colored stones laid to go with your current walk. Then have a Sunsetter Retractable Awning installed to cover your new patio. Repurpose an existing patio set or find a new one to paint and restore at an Estate/Garage or Flea Market Sale. Best of luck.

  • Linda Linda on Dec 16, 2016

    ooh oooh how about 3 pots in 3 different heights and widths with the largest being the backdrop of the beautiful pointy green leaves of corralled bamboo. Then the medium one could be some flowering plant that has the bamboo as its backdrop and then the lowest and widest pot is made into a wonderful water feature. Melissa the corralled bamboo would be so great against the beautiful brick. Great idea....

    Also I have had water features indoors and outdoors. I was taught that for them to be successful is to have lots of pond plants which cleanses and oxygenates the pond. Depending on the size pond is how I select plants Or a plant.

    • Karen Worden Kvalevog Karen Worden Kvalevog on Dec 18, 2016

      I love your ideas! I have a spot that gave me trouble, I put stone deep enough to handle the water and then decorative planters.

  • Josephine Howland Josephine Howland on Dec 16, 2016

    I would look into a French drain system, they have everything you need at Home Depot or Lowes. It's a perforated pipe with a cloth cover to keep the dirt out. You dig a trench where it is pooling and first put large gravel, then the pipe with cover and then more large grave, then cover with smaller stones and top soil.

  • Donna Snell Cruger Donna Snell Cruger on Dec 17, 2016

    Plant something that loves water to soak it up. I would plant some nice grasses along the back wall. They will love the water and also give you some height where it is needed. Then use the front to plant all your pretty perennials and annuals.

  • Dianne cuddington Dianne cuddington on Dec 17, 2016

    You could try a raised flower bed. You can use rock in the bottom before putting your soil in and that may keep all the excess water from your plants

  • Jane Jane on Dec 18, 2016

    I agree with a few of the other comments. You need to make sure that that water runs away from the house. Termites love wet & damp, as well as molds & rotting wood. I would have a professional come take a look at the issue of keeping water from pooling so close to your home. It will be so worth it.

  • Nita Judhit DePaor Nita Judhit DePaor on Dec 18, 2016

    you will need to remove some top soil,,,dig up deep and mix soil with sand,or you will need to drai the area...pond is best idea,,,and its doesn't need sunlight/ less algee/ my pond over fill with rain also and the spare water runs off naturally ...

  • Myr8816833 Myr8816833 on Dec 19, 2016

    you might install some drain pipe along side of your home to drain away from your foundation. The bed would remain dry and water can be redirected with minimum effort

  • Romain Romain on Dec 19, 2016

    I think, the drain and moving the barrel & downspout is your best bet. I thought of raised bed too, but you still have the issue of underlying moisture that will sooner or later mean termites or foundation shift. If you are physically able to do it yourself, you can get info easily and it would save some money. Just be sure to call utility company before you dig, unless you ARE SURE there is nothing there. Best of luck.

  • Virginia Virginia on Dec 19, 2016

    Certainly check your drain pipes but have you dug down a bit to see what kind of soil is under the top soil? You may have a clay deposit that is stopping the water from percolating down. Also, maybe adding a French drain along the side of your house will pull water away from your structure and also away from your garden area. If it's pooling there, find out if it's also impacting your house foundation.

  • Dia11688339 Dia11688339 on Dec 19, 2016

    Obviously any rain runoff from those walkways is running into the soil area, and increasing your flooding. Move that rainbarrel and downspout away from your front door, make sure your gutters are clean and are directing the water away from your house and foundation. Remove several top layers of that soil. Don't know where you live and what kind of soil you have, but you need light soil that the water can percolate down and drain. Go to your local garden center and ask for recommendations for plants available that like "wet feet", bog plants, etc. Better yet, visit your county e xtension office if close by, and ask your local Master Gardeners there for advice. It's free, and they should also test your soil ph and help with plant advice. That is what we Master Gardeners are there for! Good luck!

  • ObiaMan ObiaMan on Dec 20, 2016

    On the other hand, if you're not into all that work, put in some stepping stones where you can get around and fill it with Iris bulbs. Here in Louisiana they'll grow in standing water. Maybe an Elephant Ear planting in the middle. Or you could just cover it with small rocks and put in a bird bath and some potted plants.

  • Toni Toni on Dec 21, 2016

    I would say the down spout is probably what's flooding your garden

  • Arlis Arlis on Dec 22, 2016

    get 4 12/15 inch pvc pipe, pount it in the ground to

    carry some of the water deeper into the ground. put down weed cloth , add river rock (it is larger easier to remove later if you wanr)now arrange some bright planters/large pots , some animat statues etc.. to the area you can even grow carrots, herbs ,lettuce and a few other veggies in pots if you like..

  • Lori Lori on Dec 25, 2016

    After you find out why there is so much water....I think a bench and a birdbath with pots of plants would be could use peagravel or mulch and stepping stones

  • Gardengraz Gardengraz on Dec 30, 2016

    Move the drainpipe. How about a French drain? DO NOT mix sand with the soil especially if it clay soil. You would create a kind of cement. I had the same problem at my back porch. Added soil, compost, and planted moisture loving plants. Hostas good for this. No problem now.

  • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Jan 06, 2017

    My son bought a house built in 54 three years ago, and the shrubs in front had not been cared for very well. The leaves from the huge maple in the front yard had not been removed in years and the shrubs below it were literally growing along the ground instead of upright, and the evergreen by the front door looked old and sad. This past summer my husband and I[we live with my son] dug up everything, including ferns, hostas and lily of the valley. Our front door is at the middle of the house, so we treated it like two different areas. We used square patio bricks on the west side after we smoothed everything out. We then bought two half barrels and planted them with hostas, and put them on either end of that side and put two end tables from our patio furniture and a love seat between them. The east side of the front door we planted hostas galore and replanted the hostas and lily of the valley we saved from the other side. We also planted spring flowers on the north side for some color until the hostas come back up in the spring. With all the huge maples, elms and birch trees around the north side of the house gets little sun until leaves are shed, so the hostas are the way to go. Hopefully all will be well in the spring with the new plants. Maybe something like that will work for you.

  • Manya Manya on Jan 08, 2017

    It seems the level of the soil close to the wall is lower and the water has no access to go away

    Put some soil close to the wall in order to make it higher so the water has access to escape.

    use pipe extensions to drain the water away from this area.

    plant some grass ....

    😊 happy 2017!!!

  • ObiaMan ObiaMan on Jan 17, 2017

    Do Not put soil against the house to make it higher. If you notice, there are holes every so often in the bottom row of bricks. That is to allow moisture within the wall to escape. Put dirt no higher than the bottom of the lowest brick. You could create a wall several inches out from the wall and as high as you'd like and then fill in the space with gravel up to the brick ledge maybe. You could do that all the way around and create somewhat of a raised bed. Divert the water elsewhere. Your rain catcher should do the trick for you. Attach a hose and use the water elsewhere. If I had an area like that, I'd have a full blown garden in it.

  • Judy Judy on Jan 23, 2017

    Angela, I would put stones down in the walk area, of each row., where you walk. Also, the flower/food area, is fine to get water. They need it. Some folks will put straw on the stones. You may want to check the slant of your lot, for if it goes

    down hill, then this is the answer., do have this on a good area, where there is a good slant, for proper drainage. Best wishes.

  • Judy Judy on Jan 23, 2017

    Also, put the stones on the end of the flower bed, for soaking into the soil., just for more drainage. Check with a Hardware shop, or nursery, for more info.

  • Mogie Mogie on May 19, 2023

    You need to first address the water drainage problem. Not much likes being drenched so find a way to route the water some place else.