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Med coast but no sun!


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I have been making some enquiries from the developers regarding drainage and new top soil.  They advise that it is now impossible to install drainage due to underground pipes and cables.  Further the drainage would have to cross two paths where the foundations have already been laid.

They have agreed to barrow the equivalent of about one lorry load of soil to raise the height of the flooded section by about 2 to 3 centimetres.  They advise that this is the maximum they can do due to the height of the foundations and floor in the house next door (the house which stops the sun, and provides the flood trap).  Any higher will cause damp problems in the house next door.

The soil will be the same as that already provided which is poor quality, and although it may help with flooding it will not stop it.  Unfortunately the developers promised exactly the same last July and nothing happened.

I have realised that the hedge survives because it is out of the flood area, and being on the edge of the plot gets a significant amount of sun.

I have been trying to include two photos of the flood area, but to no success.



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David has sent me the pictures of his garden and I am posting them below.

I thought I had an inkling of what you were describing David, but the reality is worse.

I think we need some sort of surveyor to come and take a look at these pictures. Can you clarify for us, where your boundary is?

Picture 1  



Picture 2


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I have been making some enquiries from the developers regarding drainage and new top soil.  They advise that it is now impossible to install drainage due to underground pipes and cables.  Further the drainage would have to cross two paths where the foundations have already been laid.

I think they're ducking and diving David. 

Is there a chance that what they have done in the first place is wrong.  Do you know if any of the houses nearby have the same problem with waterlogging in winter?

Still more questons than answers. Sorry about that.

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Who owns the wall on the left ?

Two thoughts, if you are there in the spring daffodils do well in areas that are flooded, and possibly some ormamental grasses (on the basis that grass grows even when an area has been flooded and later baked.(but I would also ask advice from a specialist nursery about that)

I think I really would think hard about raised beds, and in the circumstances, asking the builder to construct them for you, gratis! It really looks like an error on their part.

For instance a couple of raised beds with an arch joing them and a seat underneath.

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David, I've sent all the info to someone I know who is a garden genius.

He may even make a guest appearance here, but he is AWOL at the moment...

If the wall on the left is yours, painting it white or cream would reflect a lot more light back into the garden.

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More pictures, this time taken from above. I resized them but they are still quite big. David will come along and explain what the pictures are etc, but I have to say again David, I think the builders should sort it. It can't be right can it, this level of waterlogging on the terrasse part?

Picture 3


Picture 4


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Do we know what the trees are ? Rosemary (grafted?) Is it all Davids land, or just up to the boards?

Frankly I would be jumping up down over this - it can't be right to leave this mess - if it's their mistake they should sort it ? Can't they put in something our garden helper calls a 'French drain' ?

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I'm convinced they have messed up. Changing a couple of inches of soil won't help.

I wish someone other than gardeners would come and comment. [:P] I'm out of my depth here[:)]

David will come and explain, but the grey boxes I think are on the boundary

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Good thinking. Or start a  'thread' with a link in it to here?. Then we won't end up with two discussions.

Any mod care to express a view as to the best way to get the builders involved?

Right, I'm going to try and lure the builders myself[6]

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Tresco wrote "the best way to get the builders involved?"

Beer usually works. Or big mugs of tea.

Slightly more constructively (did I really write that?) a better thread title would help. I've been ignoring "Med coast but no sun" for several days now because it just looked likely to be whinges about the weather. When it got to three pages I had a quick dekko at the last page and found myself here.

Now I'm going to start all over again to see what is really going on.
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May be more simple than you think.  In my opinion Le Bouf may have got this half right at the begining of the thread.  David, you seem to have hit the nail on the head when you said this area contains alot of builders rubble which may be the cause of the waterlogging.  It may be remedied by removing the area approx 1ft down making sure rubble is removed.  Apply a layer of hard core then a layer of sand then a layer of good quality top soil and you may turf on top if your climate allows it but I dont know too much about that. 

This should set you back about £2k if done in UK (Welsh prices not London).  Of course I will cover myself saying I cant be certain that is the problem but it would be my first port of call.

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"Re: Med coast but no sun!

I have been making some enquiries from the developers regarding drainage and new top soil. They advise that it is now impossible to install drainage due to underground pipes and cables. Further the drainage would have to cross two paths where the foundations have already been laid."

Looking at the photos, it looks like the slope of the area between the garden & the lake is running the wrong way. However, this seems to conflict with what you say above, about "two paths" I've got two suggestions:

Tell the builder to run a very shallow drain across to the lake edge. It would probably only need to be a few inches deep. In fact a 6" (15cm) gulley with a cover would probably do it.

Buiid a dwarf wall about a foot in from the neigbour's walls (to give room for maintenance) and raise the whole garden inside it. I'd probably raise the patio bit about 10 - 15 cm (from what I can see) and then install raised beds about 40 cm deep along the sides. Make sure any raised paved areas slope the right way.
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Many thanks Tresco for posting the photos.

To explain a bit, the wall to the left of the photos is the lounge wall of the house next door which is offset.  The border is in line with the ugly looking boxes which are the electricity junction boxes, and the line of the hedge can be seen in line with the edge of the wooden terrace which is for the house next door.  There is a larger amount of garden to the right of the photo, but this does not flood so much, as the water drains into the flooded area.  The nearest road is on the far side of the houses in the background.

Please rember that my wife and I reach our 60th birthdays soon, and that I am in a wheelchair.

I think that you are correct that the developers have got it wrong, but the developers have flatly refused to do any more, thus to involve them would require legal action, which I am very reluctant to do.  The only problem is this small patch of garden, and the flooding does not affect our house.  The developers are adamant that local building regulations do not require drainage.  This may be correct, as the area is generally dry, and only suffers heavy intermittent rain for a few weeks in winter.  The site is reclaimed land, the water in the photos is part of a sea water lake connected to the sea, and is salt water and tidal.  The land in the photos does slope towards the house, but to the right, not shown in the photos, the land slopes around our house, down the right hand side of the house, and out towards the front of the house which drains into another part of the lake.  Thus, when looking at the photos, the main part of the lake is behind the viewer, and the water naturally drains around the right hand side of the house, over two paths, and reaches the sea directly behind the point behind where the photos were taken.  The photos look uphill, with the drainage being in the other direction.  After rain the flooding seems to last for several days in that part of the plot before drying out.

In fact our biggest drainage problem is at the other side of the house where the water drains to the sea.  This part of the embankment is not concrete re-inforced, and we have severe erosion, with rivulets cutting back towards the house.  I have not mentioned this as this is not a gardening problem.

I hope this is clear, but I wonder if I might scan in a simple drawing of the site and send it to Gay (Russethouse) by e-mail to include on the post.

When I started this post, I wondered if anyone knew of any ground cover plants that could stand a week, or two, or three, of flooding in winter, followed by hot dry summers, with very cold harsh winds in winter, and warm dry winds in summer, with poor soil, and as the flooding part of the garden faces north west, the flooding part of the garden is a plot which gets no sun at all except for an hour a day in late evening in high summer.

Because of the Tramontane wind, we do not use this part of the garden, having another garden on the other side of the house and out of the wind, but we would like to plant it to have a nice view from the kitchen, where photos one and two were taken from, and perhaps to plant herbs for the kitchen.  We do not want to leave it as bare soil.

I am sorry if the title of the post mislead people, but not being a gardener I thought that the lack of direct sunlight was a major problem.  I had thought of cactus plants which could suck up the water in times of flooding, and then survive the summer drought, but I thought cactii (?) needed lots of sun.

Again very many thanks for all your kind assistance.


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David, don't worry about the title.

It's just that as we became aware of how complex it was, it seemed like more a of a naughty builder problem. I still think that they have been,  but fully understand why you don't want to get involved in any legal shenannigens. I wouldn't.

Spanish Reed (don't know the latin name but can find it later) should grow in it, and also Oleander. They are both plants that thrive in heat and waterlogged winters and baked dry summer (e.g dried up river beds).

I would stick some Spanish Reed in front of the grey boxes. It grows quite high, and will filter the wind.  I have one that's about 8 foot at 2 years old  in the ground (mine is a variegated variety). It will make/ provide a screen very quickly. You would probably need  3 or 4 at a rough guess.

You know, even though this is a new site, and the pic is taken in cloudy weather, there is still a fair amount of light knocking about.

My garden genius is AWOL. Can't trust anyone these days.


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Spanish reed and oleander sound brilliant.  Any other plant ideas?  With regard to natural light, you are correct, there is a lot of natural light, but no direct sunlight.

This flooded area is a builders problem, but to be fair they have had a lot of other problems, and they have done their best to sort those out.  They have just had enough with this small flooding plot (the only one on the site), especially when the flooding does not affect the structural integrity of the house.  In fairness I really could not call them "naughty builders" or "rogue builders".

Many many thanks,


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OK . I understand the situation better now.

Apparently the builders have been pulling out stops left right and centre, to sort out various problems, David is as happy as he can be, and it really is this one little patch that's the problem.

I await advice from Johnski the Garden Genius, but in the meantime, plants that live in riverbeds that dry out in summer, anyone?

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I came across this on the internet the other day when looking for

something else.  A sedum is a succulent rather than a cactus but

this one sounds as if it might cope with the wet periods as well as the

dry ones.  Maybe it would be worth trying just a few-  if you

can track them down -  to see if they will spread.  Being low

growing they shouldn't be too much affected by the wind.

"When it comes to succulent perennials, things don’t get any better than the John Creech stonecrop (Sedum ‘John Creech’).

Among the finest ground covers, this spreading succulent is only two

inches or so in height at most with a spread of almost a foot. It

features attractive, spoon-shaped, emerald green foliage that is

semi-evergreen. The tiny, rounded, leaves are very dense. The growth is

so dense and compact that it covers the ground very well. With its low

growth habit, weeds don’t have a chance to come through.

John Creech has beautiful purple-pink to rose flowers that generally

start opening from June to July. But if you’re looking for a sedum with

a very floriferous nature, this probably isn’t the one for you. Like

most of the Sedums, this is well suited to dry, well drained soils.

Sandy ones are best, but then we don’t always have a choice on that

matter. Poor, infertile situations suit it just fine. Rich soils aren’t

as suitable, for high fertility encourages lanky growth. However, it is

more tolerant of moist soils than most Sedums, and is less likely to

rot under these conditions than most others. So far as exposure is

concerned, John Creech Sedum will tolerate more shade than the

upright-growing forms. As with the other Sedums that are used as ground

covers, John Creech is a very drought tolerant, carefree perennial that

requires little attention."

Good luck,


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Dear val douest,

What a wonderful plant the Sedum "John Creech" sounds for us.  Thank you, thank you for such a sensible suggestion..

This together with Spanish reed for height, and perhaps oleanders if they can survive the winter, sounds great.

Re oleanders, I wonder how hardy they are?  Winters at Port Leucate while windy and sometimes wet, tend to be mild compered with central France.  The area can get a frost, but this is unusual, and rarely gets down to even minus 1 or 2 degrees centigrade, and even then for a very limited period of time.  The normal winter minimum temperature seems to be about plus 2 degrees, although subject to a ferocious wind which makes the wind chill factor quite low.  The locals are adamant that they never have a frost, but I am sceptical about that.  They also told us that it only rained, lightly, for 15 days a year!

We now have some ideas to take to the local garden centre with us, as we hope to go back at Easter.  Sedums do seem ideal, perhaps we may find some other varieties giving colour at different times of the year.  The "John Creech" sounds great, is drought and flood tolerant, and will give colour for the summer season.

Do you know if Sedums have the same name in France?

Many, many thanks,


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