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Planting to reduce soil water content / reduce holard?

Planting to reduce soil water content / reduce holard?

What shall i plant
I've taken on some voluntary gardening on a 5m by 15m back garden for another building which is a converted  east facing terraced town house

There's an empty basement flat  which used to be the caretakers flat below the main building which has quite a lot of damp ingress.They are saving to get it tanked properly but  can't really afford to heat the place. In the meantime the major cause of the damp the leaky guttering and downpipe is under repair and I'll have a look at the drains once there is some fine weather

Behind the flat, for a few metres the 5m x15m  garden slopes up from basement to ground level with flowerbeds at each side of the slope. Behind that there is s a 3m x 5m lawn in very poor condition.due to poor light and an abundance of leaves, behind that some flowerbeds in poor condition and at the very back some mature trees. There are borders running the full length of the garden at ground floor  level

I think the holard / water content of the ground is contributing to the damp problem.

Anything I could plant in the borders and flower beds which would use up water from the soil

I was going to reseed the lawn once I can enlist some help to set out and level. Is there a grass mix which is hardwearing, takes up a lot of soil moisture, is tolerant of shade in an already dire Aberdeen climate yet is reasonable decorative? Would A4 A6, A19 be suitable?

The garden is going to have to be worked anyway. Thought it would be a good opportunity to plant stuff that will reduce the holard of the ground and it's potential contibutory effect on the basement flat damp while I'm at it.

The soil is good, low clay content.


  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    I have no idea what a holard is- but reading your post you are looking for a magic plant to take up excess moisture-like a sponge?

    No such plants exist they take up as much as they need-this is not a planting solution -the problem is drainage and weather related

    The soil needs working on-no easy answer as I see it.


  • I just looked up holard. It is the entire water content of the soil.

    Larger plants take up more water than small ones, obviously. One solution if you have the light is to plant large climbing roses and foliage plants, over a pergola or similar. I knew someone who had a wet area of his garden ,so he put up a pergola and planted a large climbing rose. It looked gorgeous and did solve the damp problem completely for him. However, as sotongeoff says, no magic answers exist. His problem was because of water running down a slope into a hollow, rather than because he was generally on very wet soil. Very thirsty plants such as willows exist but can cause more problems than they solve.

    We live on a hill and water running into our garden towards the house can cause problems. We dug a drainage ditch about three feet deep and filled the bottom with stones before refilling the rest with soil. I have heard of people putting a pipe or tubeinto these and directing the water to an existing drain.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,416

    However much water a plant takes up it will only do it in the growing season. If you've got anywhere to drain to, that's the way to go.  Not easy if you're already at the bottom.

    I looked up holard as well GG, new to me but might come in handy so I'll add it to my word list.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Could be useful when you really want to impress! image

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,416

    Handy for crosswords maybe? Though it's never come up yet.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,008

    Round here the ground is natrually boggy and wet so the farmers plant bog tsandard willows in pastures and along the boundaries of borderline arable fields.  However willows are notorious for having roots which penetrate everything so are not a solution near to any building. Poplars also get planted for their water absorption powers but they tend to be short lived and even more unlovely than a plain willow.

    As stated above, the only solution of your situation is remedial building works to tank out the basement.  You could also look into injections to prevent water rising higher up into theground floor walls and check that all drains are functioning properly and not leaking.

    We will be having injections done ourselves in the next month or so to arrest rising damp in a brick barn we plan to renovate.  There is already a Roman drain and pump system in place along its north and east walls and that should do the trick so we can make it habitable.


    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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