Home testing soil drainage is the best way to determine if your soil drains well enough for a garden or new trees to grow properly.
Many of us have a soil described as heavy clay. Having heavy clay does not always mean that soil drains poorly. There are many factors that influence soil drainage including slope, overall soil texture, soil compaction and soil composition.
Here is a simple, low tech way to test soil drainage:
Dig a hole 1 1/2 to 3 feet deep by 6 to 12 inches in diameter.
Fill the hole with water and let it drain.
Fill the hole with water a second time and measure how much water drains in an hour.
1 to 2 inches per hour is best.
Less than 1 inch per hour is poorly drained.
More than 2 inches per hour is excessive drainage.
Do this test when soil moisture is “normal” not during drought or just after a heavy rain to get accurate results.
Should you have soil that is poorly drained, all is not lost. Soil can be amended with sand or gravel. Plants can be planted in raised beds or trees on mounds to help drainage. If you are very ambitious, underground tiles can be installed to drain saturated soils.
This simple test allows anyone to check soil drainage. Knowing how your soil drains is on step toward being a confident grower