Testing Drainage

How do I know if my soil is “well drained” or not?

Answer: Here’s an easy test recommended by the University of Cornell’s Cooperative Extension Office:

Dig a one-foot-deep hole. Fill it with water and let the water drain completely. (No need to time this first stage.) Immediately fill the hole again and measure how deep the water is, in inches. (It will likely now be deeper than one foot, due to the soil settling.) Wait 15 minutes and measure the depth again. Subtract the second measurement from the first measurement to determine how many inches of water have drained. Multiply this number by four to find how much water drains in one hour.

“Well-drained soil” has a drainage of one to six inches per hour.

If drainage is less than an inch an hour, it’s considered poor. This site will do best with plants that like wet, swampy ground. If drainage is more than six inches an hour, it’s called excessive. Choose plants that like dry soil and tolerate drought.

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