Every gardener’s dream is having a well-drained garden. In order to achieve this, many fellow green thumbers turn for help to gravel. It’s so widely used, that it’s almost taken for granted in today’s gardening world.
Well, the Fantastic Gardeners are here to bust myths and change your opinion about gardening, and everything you knew about gravel is about to change.
The way you use gravel in your garden may be damaging it, rather than helping with growing the best possible plants in your garden.
What Beginner Gardeners Get Wrong About Gravel
Gravel gardens are great. They look awesome, well put together and are quite fun to look after. However, if you are using gravel in your garden, to help with the drainage you might be damaging both the soil of your garden and your greenery.
The reason why gravel is thought to be great for drainage is that it is! But not if it’s below the soil…
If there is a comparison to the soil, it’s that of a sponge. It will soak as much as possible before it starts to go to the layer below, and even then it might be too much water. Whenever you are watering your plant, the goal is to give them nutrients, not to drown them.
This tends to be a problem whenever you count on gravel for drainage.
Gravel for Drainage in Pots
There is also the case of placing gravel at the bottom of pots, in order to ensure drainage. Just as with gravel in the garden, this causes problems and will eventually kill the plant. When applying a layer of gravel at the bottom of a pot, this might not be doing any good to your plant.
Whenever you are watering your plants, gravel is not needed in order to help with the drainage, as long as the pot has holes in it. If there is little water coming out from the bottom of the soil, It will end up retaining in the gravel.
Gravel in Drainless Pots
Drainless pots are the perfect habitat for some plants. However, sometimes beginner gardeners think that, because the pot is drainless, this means that they should do the drainage. Applying a layer of gravel at the bottom will do nothing more than killing your plants.
You don’t have the ability to see how much water is in the gravel when the soil of the plant looks dry. That’s why whenever you water it, you might be over watering the plant. And as we all know, this leads to root rot and eventually it kills the plant.
What we suggest you do is pot the plant in a pot with drainage holes. Apply a layer of gravel to a bigger pot that has no drainage, and place the plant in the bigger pot. This is a great way to keep track of how much water there is in the gravel, and if your plant needs more.
How to Use Gravel in Raised Garden Beds
Growing a garden in a raised bed can be a lot of fun. Because the planting soil sits on top of the surface soil, this makes water retain naturally. Raised beds have their own water retention problems too.
Often times when the raised bed is deeper than 40 centimetres, water tends to collect before it even reaches the surface soil. That’s when applying a layer of gravel for drainage at the bottom of the raised bed can help the water to get down to the surface soil.
When you have a severe water retaining problem, you might want to consider making a french drain at those places.
By creating a french drain this way you will allow a lot more water to escape from the garden, and you can point the water to go in a direction you want.