Squak Talk Blog

Rain, Rain – How will it affect my plants?

We have been drenched with rain this past week, and more is on the way.  (If you haven’t discovered the Cliff Mass weather blog, it is our favorite for analysis of our weather!)

You may be wondering, “how will all this water affect my landscape plants”?

For the most part this moisture is great news.  Our dry soils are well watered, and our reservoirs are filling up fast!

For plants with poor drainage a wet winter can be a cause for major concern.

Because we have a lot of heavy glacial till soils (clay like) in the Seattle area, poor draining soils are all too common.

In fairness we usually have quite a bit of rain each winter, it just so happens that the vast quantity of rain we are receiving this November has made the rain a hot topic.


Here are two things to watch for in your landscape:

  1.  Standing water or very wet soil areas.  Plant roots need air in order to breathe and remain healthy.  Some plants require better drainage than others.  If you are seeing areas of standing water or soil that is very wet even after the rain has stopped for 24 hours, we recommend you consider the types of plants in the vicinity.

A few plants can thrive even in very wet soils.  For example red twig dogwoods (Cornus alba) , willows (Salix), Sweet Flag (Acorus), and Rush (Juncus) are unlikely to be damaged from standing water.

Other plants are very particular about the drainage of the soil and will likely die if they remain in wet spots too long.  For example Hinoki Cypress, Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) or Coneflowers (Echinacea).

2.  New plantings.  Go take a look at any plants you planted in 2015.  Often we plant in areas that we “think the soil is good”, only to discover that the drainage wasn’t as good as we hoped for.


Plants that remain in overly wet conditions throughout the entire winter are unlikely to be healthy (or alive) when spring arrives.  The roots will rot (become black and mushy) and the plant will be unable to take up water and nutrients to the stems and leaves (foliage and stems will change color and dry out eventually).

Taking action now will help greatly.  It is not too late to help plants in poor draining soils.



  1.  Divert the water from the planting bed.  Perhaps a small ditch or French drain can be installed in order to allow the soil to drain properly.  Admittedly this is not easily done during the wet winter months.
  2. Transplant to another area in the yard.  Consider digging up your plant with a good sized root ball.  Try to move it without disturbing the roots any more than necessary.  Plant permanently in an area that has sufficient drainage.
  3. Raise your plant up.  You can create a berm or small hill of soil to give your plant’s roots a chance to breathe and live.  Dig the plant up with a nice sized root mass.  Set it gently aside.  Bring in soil and create your berm.  Even 12″ can help greatly.  Mix the “new” soil with the exisiting soil so that you do not create distinct layers of soil.  Replant the plant at a higher level.

Our friendly staff is here to asnwer questions and concerns.


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