The South West London Gardener

How to Deal with Excessive Rain in Your Garden

heavy rainfall in public park

For many gardeners, a light sprinkling of rain is something we love to see.

It feeds our plants, waters our lawn, and can provide a much-needed boost to an outside space.

It is true that in many cases rain is a gardener’s best friend—until it isn’t.

While a good downpour can save you from hours of watering, what happens when the skies just won’t quit? Excessive rain can turn your dream garden into more of a swampy nightmare, leading to a host of problems.

Here at The Southwest London Gardener, we love to see gardens thrive and making sure the right level of moisture is provided is key to this.

Recently here in the UK, storm Babet struck, bringing with it lots of rain. In areas of Scotland, eight inches of rain fell in the first few days of the storm, and high figures were also seen throughout England and beyond.

So how can you care for your garden when unpredictably high amounts of rainfall hit?

Well, we’ve created this guide to help you, so let’s take a look.

heavy rainfall

The Issues with Excess Rain

Let’s start with the reasons we’re writing this blog.

Excess rain can create a variety of challenges for gardeners, and here are some of the main issues you might encounter:

  • Waterlogging and Poor Drainage – Excessive rain can lead to waterlogged soil, which can suffocate plant roots. Poorly drained soil can make it difficult for roots to absorb oxygen, leading to root rot and other diseases. If you are spotting puddles or soil that looks thick and dark, your plants may be suffering.
  • Soil Erosion and Nutrient Leaching – Heavy rains can wash away the topsoil, which is rich in nutrients essential for plant growth. This can also lead to nutrient leaching, where essential minerals are washed away from the root zone, depriving plants of the nutrients they need. Mulch and topsoil are great for providing long-lasting nutrients, so making sure they remain in place or are replaced is vital.
  • Fungal Diseases – Wet conditions are a breeding ground for fungal diseases like powdery mildew, rust, and root rot. Excess moisture on leaves and in the soil creates an environment where fungi can thrive. You must ensure that you perform a thorough check for diseases after heavy rainfall (more on this later).
  • Pest Problems – Some pests, such as slugs and snails, are more active in wet conditions. These pests can damage plants by eating leaves, stems, and roots. Simply put, wet soil is their ideal habitat, and in most cases the wetter the better. If you spot the telltale signs of these pests, something needs to be done.
  • Plant Stress and Weakness – Plants that are stressed from too much water may display yellow or drooping leaves and may be more susceptible to diseases and pests. Another factor to consider here is that when the raindrops are coming down thick and fast, more delicate plants can be damaged, sometimes beyond repair.
  • Hindered Garden Activities – Last but not least, heavy rain can make it difficult to carry out regular garden maintenance activities like weeding, planting, and harvesting. No one wants to be out in their garden in the middle of a downpour, and it can put a stop altogether to some activities, which can slow down the resolution of issues and any improvements.

By understanding these potential problems, you can take steps to mitigate the impact of excess rain on your garden.

These aren’t the only issues that can be caused, so it is always worth doing a check of your garden before the rain hits and protecting the areas that need it most.

rainfall on plant

5 Ways to Resolve the Problems of Excessive Rain

Deliver on Your Drainage

One of the first things that should be addressed is soil drainage.

If your garden is packed with puddles every time it rains, then this is a clear sign you have an issue with this.

There are several ways you can improve your drainage, and a key one is to incorporate compost into your soil which stops things from packing in too tightly and minimising drainage when the rain comes.

You can also look at the structure of your garden and where your plants are located.

Try to elevate the soil where possible by using raised beds to plant your favourite flowers. This will allow the water to drain away more easily and create a better growing environment.

You can also look into drainage systems such as French drains which can be really effective in preventing waterlogging.

Do Your Maintenance

Next up is to ensure your maintenance schedule is kept to, despite the bad weather.

We’ve mentioned above that this can be tricky, but zipping up your raincoat and performing a check of your garden is vital to ensure things are looking okay.

Checking for waterlogging and other signs of damage can help you pinpoint issues quickly and resolve them before too much damage is caused.

Another key thing to remember is to adjust your watering schedule. If you have an automated system, make sure this is turned off or you could be inadvertently causing more damage than there already is.

If you are topping up your fertiliser, do so with care and make sure you don’t add too much as this may harm your plants.

Keep an Eye Out for Diseases and Pests

Something we mentioned above is that wet and waterlogged conditions are perfect environments for pests and diseases to spread.

When performing your maintenance check, make sure to keep an eye out for signs of this.

This could look like bite marks in leaves, wilting or rotting plants, and even spotting excess bugs in your soil.

There are ways to minimise the effects of these, and if you do see diseased leaves try to remove them quickly so they don’t have time to spread.

While slugs and snails can cause damage to your plants, natural gardening means that there may be a home for these where they don’t cause damage, so why not try and create a habitat to attract them somewhere less harmful?

Protect Your Plants

Plants and flowers are an integral part of a garden.

They provide treats for all the senses and add a splash of colour and life to an outside space.

If you live in an area that frequently experiences heavy rainfalls, choosing water-tolerant plants is a good way of ensuring your flowers can thrive and always look their best.

Plants need moist soil packed with nutrients to fuel their growth, so do all you can to provide this. This may involve building raised beds as mentioned earlier, or even providing covers for your delicate plants so that they aren’t getting directly hit with water.

Always check your soil moisture levels after a rainfall and try to get it just right with plenty of nutrients incorporated to ensure healthy growth.

Make the Most of the Rainwater

The final step is to try and make the most of the water that is falling into your garden.

Natural rainwater is packed with nutrients and is perfect for plants, so try not to waste any.

While your garden may not need watering right now while the rain persists, there may come a time when it does. This means if you can store some of it in a rainwater collection system and keep it ready for when it is needed, you will be creating a sustainable and effective system that will benefit you and your garden.

Our team can provide rain capture systems that automatically spread the water around your garden when it is needed, meaning you don’t have to fear heavy rainfall for much longer. Instead, you can embrace it, knowing your garden will benefit in the future (as long as you take the above steps to protect it in the present).

rainfall on plant in black and white

The Southwest London Gardener

Excessive rain doesn’t have to be the end of the world—or your garden.

While it does present some challenges, understanding those challenges is the first step in overcoming them. With the right strategies you can help your garden not just survive but thrive, no matter how much rain Mother Nature sends your way.

Remember, every cloud has a silver lining—even the really rainy ones.

If you want to know more or would like to discuss working with The Southwest London Gardener, then get in touch today.