Floods can devastate your home and property, including your lawn and garden. Learn ways to recover your yard and landscape after a flood, whether it’s severe devastation or minor flooding.
A flood is defined by FEMA as a condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from the overflow of inland or tidal waters or the rapid accumulation of waters from any source.
There are three main types of floods: coastal, riverine and shallow. Coastal floods occur near the sea or ocean and are usually caused by extremely high tides as a result of severe storms. Riverine floods come about after heavy rainfall over an extended period of time, which causes nearby rivers to overflow and engulf surrounding towns. Shallow floods are also caused by excess rainfall, but they are not dependent on a body of water nearby. This kind of flooding most commonly occurs in urban areas.
Note: Always be sure to follow the safety protocols outlined by your local government. Contact FEMA or your nearest disaster recovery center if your home has experienced significant damage.
Immediately After a Flood
- Let the waters subside naturally. If needed, use buckets to drain any lingering, stagnant water in your yard.
- Rinse your plants, shrubs and bushes, especially if you live near salt water. Salt residue can dry out the leaves and cause long-term damage. You’ll also want to clear off any mud and debris to prevent disease. The leaves, stems and all exposed areas should be rinsed thoroughly.
- Clear the mulch from plants, shrubs and bushes. The goal is to encourage evaporation, and mulch will prevent the excess moisture from escaping. Avoid tilling the soil at this time.
- Aerate garden beds with a garden fork to help the drying process.
- Clean up fallen leaves, branches and debris in the yard.
- Throw away all fruits, vegetables and herbs that were submerged by the flood water. They are no longer safe for consumption.
Tip: Watch out for contamination. Water from nearby plants and sewers can sometimes runoff into residential areas during a flood. Before the water in your yard completely subsides, take a look at the surface and look out for an oily sheen or an abnormally foul smell. Consult a professional for a soil test to identify and remove any hazardous contaminants.
- A few days after the flood waters recede, remove any pools of standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard or garden.
- Prune plants and shrubs, and remove the dead foliage to help foster new growth.
- Replace the soil in potted plants to encourage a speedy recovery.
- Replant any edibles that were removed immediately after the flood.
- Get rid of compost that was submerged in salt water. Compost submerged in fresh water can still be used.
- Avoid applying fertilizer at this time. Instead, water your entire lawn and garden to remove lingering silt and sediment. Then, apply fresh pesticide to combat bugs and fungal diseases.
- After the lawn has dried, lightly mow the grass and let it grow a bit taller than usual before resuming your regular mowing schedule. If the flood occurs during the cooler months, wait until the temperatures rise before mowing.
- Inspect and flush your sprinkler system. Irrigation lines can get clogged with flood debris, so make sure your system is still in working order.
- Be patient. The recovery process will take time, but your landscape will bounce back with the right maintenance and care.
Tip: Flood damage is typically not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies, but you can request additional coverage. Speak to your insurance agent for more information.
Flood Recovery Landscape and Garden Checklist
The Home Depot Can Help
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