The sun is shining, and it is very tempting to get out in the garden – especially after being inside during the recent torrential rain we have had. But, however inviting it may be, it is wise to wait a week or so for things to dry out a little before going full throttle in the garden – unless there is still standing water in plant beds or areas where draining the water is necessary. The soil is still very saturated and prone to compaction. Compaction occurs as particles in the soil compress from the rain, machinery, animals, or from simply walking on it. The compression of soil particles results in plants’ roots having less access to air and nutrients; proper drainage is critical for the health of plants. Constant exposure of roots to standing water can result in root rot and plant death.

Following heavy rain or flooding, there are things gardeners can do to help start the recovery from the over-abundance of water. In a recent UCANR blog (, authors Melissa Womack and Missy Gable outline some ways to help mitigate the damage from heavy rain and flooding. Recommendations include, removing debris, mud and silt that may be impeding the growth of garden plants. Create drainage ditches or berms to redirect water away from growing areas. Loosen compacted soil with a garden fork – only to help improve drainage to plants roots. To reduce further compaction, wait until the soil dries out, and avoid walking on wet, soggy lawns.

Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener