Drainage layers

Rick Moquin

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I did not want to hijack Jason's thread. I think this one deserves it's own thread.

Yep, the drainage layer.....Yep they do work and my good friend says use one every time so.....I use em'. If it works in Mr. Kimuras garden then it should work in mine :)

Are you using a drainage layer to provide extra drainage or raising the tree in the pot?
 

JasonG

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I did not want to hijack Jason's thread. I think this one deserves it's own thread.



Are you using a drainage layer to provide extra drainage or raising the tree in the pot?

Hey Rick,

I am using the drainage layer to aid in drainage and airflow. The important part here is the size of the pumice in the drainage layer. As a general rule of thumb you only want the material used as the drainage layer to be one size larger than the soil. For example this little elm, the soil I used is about 1/8" so my layer of pumice is about 1/4" in size.
I didn't use it to raise the tree in the pot, I used soil for that.

Thanks, Jason
 

Rick Moquin

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I thought so. Do you have an explanation for the following photos Courtesy of Ohio State University?

Not trying to be facetious here. I am in the middle of writing an article wrt the subject. It seems folks are using them for all the wrong reasons.

Edit: BTW the pot in the photos does have drainage holes at the bottom.
 

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buddhamonk

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interesting topic.

I personally use my draining layer so that the small stuff doesn't clog up the drainage holes that's already covered by the mesh screen. I think it help with drainage by not clogging up the exits but by itself I don't think it moves water anymore than small particle soil.
 

Rick Moquin

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interesting topic.

I personally use my draining layer so that the small stuff doesn't clog up the drainage holes that's already covered by the mesh screen. I think it help with drainage by not clogging up the exits but by itself I don't think it moves water anymore than small particle soil.

Interesting observation and an accurate one at that. However, I have found that my drainage screens to not clog because I do not use a drainage layer, but because the roots have colonized the pot.

You will find it interesting that your observation is indeed a portion of my article, sort of ;);)
 

Vance Wood

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Interesting observation and an accurate one at that. However, I have found that my drainage screens to not clog because I do not use a drainage layer, but because the roots have colonized the pot.

You will find it interesting that your observation is indeed a portion of my article, sort of ;);)

Not wishing to come down on either side of the argument but only desiring to share some of my own observations allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions. I have both used a drainage layer and not used a drainage layer. In both case the roots have colonized the container all the way to the bottom of the pot. In the case of the drainage layer, over a period of years the soil invades the drainage layer as it breaks down, and the roots follow. In my experience I have found little advantage to a drainage layer, especially in shallow pots where there is little room for a viable soil level without taking up valuable space for a layer of gravel, grit, or some other coarse substance.

As to clogging the screened over drainage holes: If your soil is so fine that it clogs the screens your soil is too fine or you are using a soil that breaks down too fast. A drainage layer will not stop the soil from reaching the screens eventually. Water will break down anything given enough time. The trick is to have a soil mix that takes many years to break down, not months or weeks.
 
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Drainage layers are another practice from the past that is outdated and over-rated. There is not a serious container gardener or horticulturist today that recommends using such, the main reason being that they create a perched water table at the point where the particle size changes. For maximum drainage and aeration, particle sizes should be uniform.


Have at it.....


Will
 

Walter Pall

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Not wishing to come down on either side of the argument but only desiring to share some of my own observations allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions. I have both used a drainage layer and not used a drainage layer. In both case the roots have colonized the container all the way to the bottom of the pot. In the case of the drainage layer, over a period of years the soil invades the drainage layer as it breaks down, and the roots follow. In my experience I have found little advantage to a drainage layer, especially in shallow pots where there is little room for a viable soil level without taking up valuable space for a layer of gravel, grit, or some other coarse substance.

Exactly my own observations on several thousand bonsai. Modern substrate IS drainage stuff.
 

Smoke

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Back in the day when I raced motorcycles, there was this guy that would spend hours in the pits with a razor blade triming special patterns in his tires. Undercutting the outside edge, beveling the corners on the knobs really making the tire look like somthing that was special. I challanged him to trade motorcycles in a heat race. We both finished in almost the same place we finished every other week. He did just as well on my un-special tires and I did just as poor as I always did on his special tires.

bottom line....repot D trees every year and use good components in conifers for repots in three years. Save the drainage layers for scientists who get paid by taxpayers for such nonsense.
 

Rick Moquin

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I would like to point out to the membership that Jason was not singled out in this discussion and I apologize for the appearance of any improprieties. The discussion was spurred from a comment I made in the Chinese Elm thread.

Ah.... the proverbial drainage layer?... which spurred my first post in this thread.

As seen in the article the benefits of drainage layers in container gardening is largely a myth. I will openly admit they have there use in container gardening, but not for their believed intended purpose, drainage.

Many enthusiast still use them for drainage, we/I see this all the time. I have been part of many discussions on the subject and was mulling over putting an article together for quite some time. Jason just rang the doorbell, that is all.
 

Vance Wood

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I would like to point out to the membership that Jason was not singled out in this discussion and I apologize for the appearance of any improprieties. The discussion was spurred from a comment I made in the Chinese Elm thread.

Ah.... the proverbial drainage layer?... which spurred my first post in this thread.

As seen in the article the benefits of drainage layers in container gardening is largely a myth. I will openly admit they have there use in container gardening, but not for their believed intended purpose, drainage.

Many enthusiast still use them for drainage, we/I see this all the time. I have been part of many discussions on the subject and was mulling over putting an article together for quite some time. Jason just rang the doorbell, that is all.

I don't feel there is any reason for any of us to apologize to anyone else here unless we have been rude, angry, or nasty about our points of view, turning something into a personal attack. As is the case with a lot of subjects surrounding growing mediums there are as many formulas as there are people that grow bonsai.

If what you are doing is not working then change what you are doing, if what you are doing works don't fix it. It really is a balance between medium and its use by the grower. We will probably never agree upon which single way is best. If at some point in time we do come to some sort of general consensus I can guarantee you that some new person will come along and prove that we are wrong---from his/her point of view.

That does not say that we should cease discussion on the matter. Every time we discuss an issue there is always something new to be learned, thought about, or argued over.
 

JasonG

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Ring Ring....

I haven't replied because I haven't been by the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Same now, I am getting ready to head to work, but since I was called out I will chime in for a second.

I don't know the science behind the drainage layer, that I will admit. I will say that the reports you link to Rick and the pictures you posted are of much deeper pots than what we typically use in bonsai. This has lots to do with it, surface area, air flow, depth and what soils were used in their experiments?
I don't buy into your analogy of the sponge and wire rack either. The sponge is not a true representation of soil components, or atleast the soil that I use.

As I stated in my elm thread, working and re potting trees a few weeks ago with one of Mr. Kimuras former apprentice's it was mandatory that we put in a small layer at the bottom of the pot. This is how it is done in that nursery, amongst many others.

Ok, I am off to work now...if you don't hear from me for a day or so please don't take it personal. I have another life away from the computer :)
 

Rick Moquin

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Ring Ring....

Hello...:)

I haven't replied because I haven't been by the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Same now, I am getting ready to head to work, but since I was called out I will chime in for a second.
I never doubted that for a second...

I don't know the science behind the drainage layer, that I will admit. I will say that the reports you link to Rick and the pictures you posted are of much deeper pots than what we typically use in bonsai. This has lots to do with it, surface area, air flow, depth and what soils were used in their experiments?
That is the whole idea behind it, as many others will support. Size of soil particulate nor depth of pot matters. Well yes they do but not in the matter many interpret it.

I don't buy into your analogy of the sponge and wire rack either. The sponge is not a true representation of soil components, or at least the soil that I use.
Au contraire! and it is not my analogy but Brent's, wish to engage him in the conversation ;).

As I stated in my elm thread, working and re potting trees a few weeks ago with one of Mr. Kimuras former apprentice's it was mandatory that we put in a small layer at the bottom of the pot. This is how it is done in that nursery, amongst many others.
... and I am not going to deny that he does it. I believe I have explained in my article where it can be useful in certain applications, but not where most folks think it works.

Ok, I am off to work now...if you don't hear from me for a day or so please don't take it personal. I have another life away from the computer :)
I don't take it personal. I do understand folks work. I have led the horse to water...

Edit: in red
 
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Rick Moquin

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You are welcome.

I looked at the video many times and couldn't help but wonder why he was building up the pot in such a fashion. Many moons ago (I still do) we used to place gravel in the bottom of large containers as filler material. It made sense. Now some may argue that houseplants are not bonsai, which is true, but why use 25 gallons of soil in a container when it is not needed., especially when the root mass doesn't require such a large volume. Admittedly it does add weight to the container, at times this is necessary for large top heavy plants e.g Difenbachia (sp), where although the canopy may be large the root mass is rather small, almost like Jades.

Back to the video, it wasn't until he placed the layer of medium soil around the perimeter that it made sense. But as I cautioned in the article it is much much wiser to have the proper pot and substrate than manipulating the saturation zone. That being said, sometimes aesthetics dictate otherwise.
 

Yamadori

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You are welcome.

Many moons ago (I still do) we used to place gravel in the bottom of large containers as filler material. It made sense. why use 25 gallons of soil in a container when it is not needed Admittedly it does add weight to the container, at times this is necessary for large top heavy plants e.g Difenbachia (sp), .

When weight is not wanted I use packing styrofoam or other bulk styrofoam scraps broken into chunks. It gives that waste material a purpose and delays its eventual trip to the landfill.
 

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