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Your garden after it has been flooded 

August 2007

Your garden after it has been flooded

Recent torrential rains have caused flooding to many thousands of homes and gardens in the UK.

As the flood waters recede and people start putting their homes and lives back together, a few words of advice might be useful.. 

There is a danger that any edible crops you have planted might now be contaminated with raw sewage.. Crops that can be thoroughly washed, peeled and boiled pose minimal risks, but items such as salads, that are eaten raw, should be discarded.

Try not to work on your garden until the soil has completely dried out because you may cause it to become compacted, which will be a long-term problem.

It would be prudent to wait and see what has died and what has survived in the way of trees, shrubs, plants and lawns. When soil is completely flooded, oxygen is prevented from reaching the root system, but some trees and plants are more tolerant of waterlogged conditions than others. However, the longer the lack of aeration, the greater the chance of root death.

It is thought that many plants can survive being submerged for about a week or so.

In addition to the obvious damage to plants and trees, there are more long-term effects to soils which have been flooded for extended periods, and the soil structure itself may be physically harmed.

There isn't much you can do other than wait for drier weather and allow the flood water to drain away. I advise waiting for a year before removing trees, shrubs and plants that appear to have died, because we had a very early and warm spring, then a miserable summer culminating in these floods. Many plants will just shut down and wait till next year before putting on any new growth. 

At the start of the next growing season it would be advisable to use an all purpose general fertilizer on the borders to help replace nutrients that were lost due to flooding, or the very wet summer we had this year..


  • Before starting to clean up the flood water, cover any open cuts and wounds on exposed skin with a waterproof plaster or dressing.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and waterproof boots.
  • Don't allow children to play in the flood water or allow pets to drink from it.
  • Collect as much of the mud and silt that you can and place into plastic bags, which hopefully your local council will remove for you.
  • Fencing, sheds & garden furniture which have come into contact with flood water can be washed down and disinfected, using a household disinfectant diluted as advised on the label.
  • Wash contaminated garden toys with very hot water and disinfectant before allowing your children to play with them

   Amazon book - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden   Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)
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