The two most common water-related problems in soil are poor drainage and poor water retention or storage. In both cases, the addition of organic materials year in and year out will in three to five years eliminate those two problems.
Solving Drainage Problems
The drainage of water in the soil of the home landscape can be a very complex process; one that is far beyond the technical detail covered in this web site. Homeowners building houses in or around wet lands will often lead to serious drainage problems that are not simply solved by adding organic materials to the soil. Serious drainage problems can require very expensive and technically complex solutions involving building drainage fields under the soil’s surface.
Homeowners living on clay soil and suffering some drainage problems can more often solve their problems by adding that magic organic material. One solution in this situation is to plant your landscape plants in raised beds; beds that are three or four inches above the normal soil level on the property.
Home Remedy For Poor Drainage Situations
John Shelley, a nurseryman in Felton, Pennsylvania offers a solution that has been used by gardeners for many decades. His advice to make the soils absorb more water, faster, gently is to stir a teaspoon (no more) of Ivory Liquid Detergent into a 5 gallon pail filled with water and pour the resultant solution carefully around the base of your plants. Even on dried, caked and hardened soil, it's absorbed quickly and completely without runoff. And subsequent waterings are much easier when this simple, homemade surfactant is used. The diswashing liquid won't harm the plant and becomes trapped in the soil; root systems simply ignore it and uptake the water.