St. Joseph River flooding, St. Joseph, MI (Photo credit: Nates Dronography via Facebook)
If you're local to Berrien County, you're probably aware of the widespread historical flooding we are currently experiencing. If you're currently experiencing flooding of your landscaping, here are a few tips to get your landscape back into order (after dealing with any structural repairs and restoration, of course):
1. Take photos- you'll want these to look back on someday, both for reference for future garden planning, and because your landscape is going to rebound so well you may not even remember it happened!
2. Don't be in a hurry- I know the mess outside is going to drive you crazy, but you need to let the water drain completely from the soil before you start working in it. If you get out there too soon, you're going to cause compaction and rutting issues that will be difficult to repair.
3. Remove debris- start by picking up the trash, leaf piles, sticks. Gently rake away the debris, without disturbing the plants beneath them.
4. Remove deposited sand & silt- use a garden rake and flat shovel to gently lift and remove accumulated soil from plantings. Take care not to damage the crowns, trunks or branches of plants, but if you do, replant and/or trim away anything broken.
5. Pressure wash your hardscape- this is a great time to clean off your patios, stepping stones, benches, retaining walls, etc. Take the opportunity to examine them for any repairs that need to be done due to erosion or settling.
6. Drain & refill water features- if you had decorative fish in your ponds, I'm so sorry. They're probably down river by now. You'll want to clean and treat your water features, as flood water is almost always contaminated with sewage and surface runoff.
7. Relax- let nature run it's course. Spring is right around the corner, and most plants will come out of their dormancy relatively unscathed by the winter flood.
8. Take inventory- once your garden has greened up and it's obvious what survived (and what hasn't), replace missing plants. Soil testing will help you determine what nutrients remain in your soil, and what you may want to replenish. This might also be a great time to pull out those photos you took of the floods, and consider making some changes to the grades and gardens to help in the event of a repeat.
On a side note, not entirely unrelated to landscaping, PLEASE get your well water tested if the flood water was anywhere near it. You can contact your closest health department for more information.
Anna and her husband Todd own Arcadia Gardens, LLC a Stevensville, MI based landscape design and build company. Her degree in Horticulture with a focus on landscape management from Michigan State University allows Anna to select plants specific to on-site conditions and with maintenance requirements that suit the client's needs. She is comfortable designing across a range of styles- from contemporary to classic- and makes a point to include the client's input throughout the design process. She is an active member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and is serving as 2014 President of the APLD-Michigan Chapter. Anna has recently contributed to media such as "The Designer" and Gardendesign.com and is qualified to speak on a variety of topics from landscape design and maintenance to addressing local garden clubs and organizations.
PO Box 88
Stevensville, MI 49127