container soil "well-drained"?

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Old 01-28-14, 04:57 PM
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container soil "well-drained"?

We have some half-barrel container planters outside on the deck in which we plant/grow flowers I'm planning doing whatever I can to adequately "renew" the soil in these containers before planting again this spring. One thing I've been unclear about is whether the soil drains to where it would be considered "well drained", as that always seems to be the standard recommendation for most of the flowers we plant. I realize soil should hold moisture well but not be soggy all the time or too compact with little aeration. But I really have difficulty making the judgment on whether this container soil is well-drained by looking at or even digging in it.

So, as an experiment, I dug out a good representative sample of the soil and placed it in a container with a metal screen on the bottom (shown in photo below). The container with the screen on the bottom is 16 inches high and I put 8 inches or so of the planter soil in it, then watered it with one gallon of water using a watering can. The container sat in a big tub where I could later observe/collect how much of the water infiltrated down through the soil in a particular amount of time. The screened container was placed so that the bottom of it was up an inch or so from the large plastic tub, so that the water that dripped/infiltrated through would stay separate from the soil in the screened container. That way I was then able to monitor/measure how much water infiltrated through.
The results were that a half a gallon (out of a full gallon poured on) of water infiltrated through that soil in one hour. Could that be considered "well-drained" soil?

 
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Old 01-29-14, 05:59 AM
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I would think so. One way wifey does large containers is to put large gravel in the bottom (CR or #4), probably a couple of inches, followed by pea gravel. Then soil. The gravel will allow for proper drainage, but also will allow it to draw up moisture as needed.
 
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