It is the rainy season here, which means it is also the season for muddy foot- and dog prints all over the house. With two kids and a dog, our home is not the tidiest of houses. During the rainy season, however, it gets even worse.
Even if we, by some miracle, manage to prevent our kids from bringing mud from the garden into the house, doing the same with our dog seems impossible. Everyone knows that dogs just love to play in the soil. G ive our pet thirty minutes, and she will be covered in it.
No matter how much we try, getting the dog to wait before stepping in, covering her with blankets, and cleaning as much mud as possible, does not seem to work. It is a strategy that results in a waste of time and flimsy results for the most part.
This year, we decided to tackle the problem in its roots. Instead of preventing mud from coming into the house, we thought we would attempt to keep the garden as dry as possible.
Read on to find out how that went!
Step 1 – Set your yard up for success
It’s all physics!
We wanted to make our garden as moisture-absorbent as possible. In this way, when the rain starts, the water will be absorbed or flow away as quickly as possible.
The main principle here is that water will take advantage of the easiest way possible to move. We live in a sort of downhill area, so that step was easy for us. If you are in a flatter area, you would need to create an artificial slope in the garden yourself.
Don’t think of anything too grandiose. A mere two degrees of slope will suffice. The water will flow from the highest to the lowest point of the garden. If you do it like that, you have the benefit of picking your house to be the highest part of the land, therefore making the water flow away from it.
Before the rain season started, we installed a French drain in the garden. The name sounds more exotic and complex than what it is, so let’s explain that term first. A French drain is little more than a pipe buried in the garden. It helps move the water away from the wetter parts of the ground.
All gardens have some spots which get wetter than others. So, we installed the French drain in a high place in our yard that gets very wet. We extended the pipe to let off the water in the lowest part of our land, where we have some tall trees.
The thinking behind that is that their deep rooting system will take in most of the moisture fast. So effectively, we tried to channel the water to a part of our land to absorb it quickly. The further from the house, the better, since we aim to prevent the mud stains on our carpet!
Form water-free paths
After that, to finish off our landscaping efforts, we bought some rock gravel online. We identified some parts of the garden that we often have to go through when we are outside and formed trails with the stone.
This will help us step on the gravel instead of the soil. That part will be drier since the water will move faster through the rock than the rest of the tightly packed soil. Our dog did not seem to appreciate the extra dryness in those parts, but we sure did!
Clutter-free soil is dry soil!
Finally, we took one last measure to eliminate sources of mud even further. We cleaned our garden of all noticeable debris, plants, wood sticks, and every other obstacle we thought the water would pool around. We did this to allow water to move freely through the topsoil into the ground to absorb faster.
After what seemed to be quite a lot of work, we were all set. This time we were looking forward to the rain season to test our newly engineered yard’s efficiency.
Step 2 – Fix problems when they arise
As with all things in life, we were not able to predict every little thing. There were days where patches of mud would form in new places in our yard or that the rainfall would be so heavy that even with all our landscaping, there would still be mud everywhere.
After some point, there is only so little (or so much) you can do without calling for professional landscaping help. Some companies can handle this type of work if that is what you need. However, we did not go so far.
Lime and stone are your friends
One thing we did, though, was to keep some bags of lime and rock gravel in our storage. We noticed some areas where, for some reason, water would pool again and again after every rain.
When the rain would stop, and we would get the chance, we would throw lime and gravel over those patches and mix them with the soil. You can do that with a garden fork or a similar tool. That seemed to aid with water absorption.
We also noted down a few exceptionally problematic areas and planted a few moisture-absorbent plants there. We are waiting to see how significant an impact these will have, but even so, our dog at least cannot go and play in those ponds of mud anymore.
If you live in a particularly rainy area, you can even consider building a rain garden.
A few final tips:
- Aerate the soil with a garden fork if you want to dry a part of the garden quickly. The tighter the ground, the slower the absorption of water
- Use lime or hay to absorb extra moisture quickly.
- Some days, you need to give up and stay inside!
All in all, we deemed our efforts a success. There was a significant difference in how fast the water would dry or not be visible in our yard. Installing the French drain and using the land’s slope to our advantage, we think, played by far the most considerable role.
However, everything we did seemed to have a positive impact, and our yard looks more beautiful as well. Good luck!