Poor soil drainage in your soil can negatively impact the health of your plants causing all kind of issues. Root rot, pests mold, nutrient deficiencies are all common problems from poor soil conditions.
Common Soil Drainage Problems
This is when soil becomes compacted and water cannot penetrate the soil causing nutrients and precious topsoil to be washed away.
Roots need oxygen just like you and I do. When soil becomes compacted it removes the air from the soil. This eliminates the amount of life living in your soil (remember bacteria, fungi, and beneficial insects also need to breathe), and will choke roots.
This happens when soil is compacted and dries out in the sun. It can heat up extremely hot since there is no moisture or air in the soil to act as an insulator to keep the soil at appropriate temperatures. The soil in your garden should be well draining, loose, fluffy, and not clumpy.
Perlite is a volcanic rock that is puffed like popcorn. It helps to loosen soil, and prevent soil from clumping. It also has the ability to absorb water which can help soil from baking, cracking, and helping keeping proper air/water ratio in your soil.
Vermiculite is another volcanic rock similar to perlite. This glassy flat looking material is extremely absorbent and will break up even the hardest of soil and turn it into a well balanced soil. The main differences between vermiculite and perilite is that vermiculite holds more moisture and keeps it available in the soil longer than perlite will. Perlite is also slightly alkaline, while vermiculite tends to be closer to neutral pH. Keep this in mind if you do not want to raise the pH of your soil.
Sand is one of the cheapest things you can add to your garden soil that will help to break up the soil. The small particle size of the sand will get in between soil clods and break them up, increasing drainage, and helping to aerate the soil for good root development.
Compost is an obvious, but often overlooked thing to fix soil. The problem with many hard, heavy, and compacted soils is that there is a lack of organic matter. When organic matter is added to soil, it acts as a sponge. It is one of the most effective ways to break up clumps and prevent soil compaction. It also provides nutrients to the to your plants helping to maintain balanced soil conditions.
This method is more of a long term solution to compacted soil. Mulch holds water very well, breaks down and decomposes slowly, protects the soil from baking and it allows worms and other garden insects to feed on the slowly breaking down material. This softens soil, and in between one and two years you should have perfectly loose, properly draining soil.