Exploring Landscape Setups

Exploring Landscape Setups

Four Tips For Landscaping A Yard With A Low Spot In The Center

by Tanya Green

When your yard has a dip in the center, landscaping can be a challenge. Plants that grow well in the wet central area won't grow well on the borders. This makes it tougher to design a landscape. You can't just pick 2 or 3 favorite plants and incorporate them through the whole yard like you can with flat land. You can, however, have a beautifully landscaped yard if you follow these tips.

Conduct soil pH tests in both the high and low areas before planting anything.

As water drains from the high ground to the low ground, it carries various minerals with it. This may affect the pH of your yard, leading some spots to be more acidic than others. Don't simply conduct one soil test and assume that your entire yard has the same pH. Instead, test the soil in the low spot, as well as the soil on either side of your yard where the ground is higher.

You can use the results of the soil test to determine which plants are better suited for various areas. Most plants grow best in moderately acidic soil with a pH between 6.1 and 7.0. If your pH is lower (between 5.1 and 6.0) in certain areas, you'll want to plant acid tolerant plants, such as rhododendrons, camellias and trillium. If the soil is alkaline, plant alkaline-tolerant plants such as hydrangeas and lilacs.

For the low spot, choose tree varieties that tolerate periodic flooding.

If your low spot collects water during the spring or after heavy rainfall, you'll have to be very careful when selecting trees to plant there. Many tree species will quickly succumb to the elements if the soil around them floods -- it drowns their roots and causes rot diseases. Some flood-tolerant trees to consider include:

  • Green ash, a medium-sized tree that is known for its ovular leaves and furrowed bark. The leaves turn brilliant yellow in the autumn.
  • Black willow, a small willow variety whose branches contain many small leaves. These trees grow naturally along streams and are incredibly tolerant of harsh conditions.
  • Bald cypress, a tall, straight-trunk tree that has fern-like foliage. Cypress trees turn rust orange in the fall.

Consider having an underground drainage tube installed to drain the area.

It is hard to drain a low spot in the middle of the yard without extensive modification of the terrain. Simply digging a ditch won't work, since the water will not flow upwards through a ditch that travels up hill. If your low spot collects a lot of water and you'd like to keep it dryer, your best bet is to have an underground drainage pipe installed.

The drainage pipe can be angled so that it slopes downward as it approaches the edge of your yard, even though the ground above it slopes upward. Keep in mind that in many areas, you'll need a building permit, or at the very least the consent of your neighbors, in order to have such a drainage system installed.

Don't work the soil too much when planting gardens towards the outside of your yard.

When you work the soil, you loosen its particles so water flows through it more freely. This makes it easier for water to carry minerals from the higher ground down into the center of your yard. When you plant a garden in the higher areas of your yard, try not to work the soil too far down. Loosening the top foot or so of soil is more than enough for most plants and will minimize the washing-out effect.

You may also wish to consider using raised bed gardening, which involves planting in a box above the ground level which has been filled with soil. This way, you're not disturbing the deeper soils in your yard at all.

Follow the tips above, and you can have beautiful landscaping in spite of your yard's unusual topography. Remember to focus on choosing plants that are adapted to the individual characteristics of each part of your yard. You'll end up with a really varied landscape -- but that's far better than not having one at all!


About Me

Exploring Landscape Setups

Hello, I am Manny Juanez. When I moved into my home, I instantly started to plan out my landscape features. I knew that I wanted a small waterfall leading to a pond for my fish. I also wanted to create a few raised beds around the sitting area by the pond. What I didn't know, however, was that the project would take a lot of manpower and a bit of professional help. My site will explore the process from grading the land to setting up the electrical components. I will also talk about building the garden beds with pavers and other found materials. The information I provide should help you create a beautiful layout in your back or front yards. Come back to my site whenever you need some inspiration.