How to Make a Garden in a Low-Lying Area


Natural rises and dips in property contours sometimes create lush but challenging low-lying areas that capture more than their fair share of rainfall. Moisture-loving plants are ideal for those depressions and low spaces. Not only greens and flowers, but also many shrubs and trees can flourish when selected for site-suitability and tended with care. Native plants, adapted to your local environment, are always a good choice.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Flat-ended spade
  • Bushel baskets
  • Digging fork
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Raised beds
  • Tires
  • Large containers
  • Mulch
  • Native plant guide

Drape a garden hose around the outer edges of your low-lying area to mark the area to develop into a garden. If the area appears too large for your time or ambitions, use the hose to create smaller size and shape that you prefer.

Remove the lawn or sod inside the hose-draped area with a spade. Use bushel baskets or a wheelbarrow to haul the greens away. Compost it, if possible.

Loosen the subsoil with a digging fork to a depth of about 12 inches. Remove any large stones or rocks. Rake smooth with a garden rake.

Install raised beds that will enable you to plant vegetables in your low-lying garden. Most vegetables need full sun and at least 2 to 3 feet of good, well-drained soil to thrive. Tire towers and other large containers can extend your garden to include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables that typically won't flourish in a moisture-retaining area.

Research local native plants. Choose moisture-loving ornamental plants that also thrive in some dry periods. Plant densely to avoid erosion from run-off as plants establish themselves. Select varying heights and textures for visual interest.

Install a layer of hardwood mulch 2 to 3 inches thick around plants and throughout garden, avoiding trunks and stems. This will help discourage weeds and protect your soil from washing in rainy periods. Replace mulch as needed throughout the season.

Water your plants well. After the first heavy rain, examine your new garden for drainage and erosion problems. Smooth those areas with the back end of a garden rake.

Tips & Warnings

  • Low-lying areas may also be prone to early frosts. Cover any young or tender plants with blankets or newspaper if the forecast warns of frost shortly after planting or before the season ends.

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