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How to improve drainage in a waterlogged garden with water soaks & swales - Behind the Garden Gate

Jul 13, 2023
water soaks and swales to improve drainage

How to improve a garden with poor drainage 🌱 Before this garden makeover - the front yard of this home in Preston, VIC was a boggy mess every time it rained. The front garden before was just lawn that become completely waterlogged with heavy rain events and in really wet weather the water would run under the house and pool in the backyard as well.


To solve the waterlogging and boggy soil owners called on Emmaline Bowman from STEM Landscape Architecture and Design - Emmaline has extensive knowledge of water management on properties and she was able to design a garden that uses swales and water soaks to manage water movement on the property and allow it to penetrate back into the ground water without causing a boggy mess!  

Above: The gravel hole to my right is a water soak in the front yard. 

This garden was ONLY planted out 4 months before filming this video - so the plants are still very young and small.  But with the front yard now free draining the new plantings include many Western Australian natives like: 
- Guichenotia macrantha - with it's silvery foliage and pretty purple bell shaped flowers 
- Pimelea physodes (pictured below) - with it's cream and rose coloured bell like flowers, that prefer a free draining, even sandy soil!   

A Silver Princess eucalypt and a 'Lipstick' Maple (the only non native tree) are the largest plants in the front yard. With the maple providing much needed shade to the north facing windows of the home in summer.   Heading into the backyard through a big metal gate and down a narrow path that's been planted with passionfruit vines to hide the fence - we enter the backyard.

Above: The entrance into the backyard features a reo lined fence that's been planted out with a passionfruit vine. 

The backyard includes raised rusted corten steel planters for veggies and herbs, a raised deck, a large log as seating and more water soaks and swales. The original towering eucalypt, apricot tree and jacaranda tree remain from the original garden - but the new plants are similar to those in the front yard and feature hardy Australian natives.

Although this is a small, inner suburban garden - it is LOADED with ideas for any garden that suffers from poor drainage or waterlogging!

Please make sure you like and subscribe for MORE Behind the Garden Gate videos for some more great garden ideas - new episodes released weekly.


Garden Design by 🌱 STEM Landscape Architecture & Design -
Garden Construction by 🌱 Earthcore Landscapes - 


DO YOU want to be a BETTER & MORE confident gardener? Consider SPROUT SCHOOL visit: 


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