By Raymond Sinnamon
To keep moisture in the ground, first we start with your soil structure
You will want a nice balance of sand and loam – sand to allow water to pass through and roots to grow, loam to give body to hold onto the water.
There are additives like soil wetters, which I use primarily for my lawn, and water crystals available too, but improving your soil structure should be the first step for best results.
If your soil is too sandy or gritty, adding some organic fibrous matter will help lock the moisture in.
Cow manure, coir/peat or bagged soil improvers like the Rocky Point ActivGrow or Searles 5 in 1 are easy solutions.
There are many options but just be mindful you don’t want to overload the soil and make it too rich with nutrients. Great damage can be done to your plants with too much chicken manure which is very high in nitrogen.
I personally cant use it for the smell – I have a very, very keen sense of smell, so loading it into customers cars all those years when I worked at the hardware store was always done with a smile, but the smell that lingered on my hands from handling the bags hasn’t helped my reluctance to use it.
If the soil is too dense it may need a sand or grit to loosen it up, and also add some organic matter like cow manure or coir/peat. Soaking an area the day before can help minimise labour to cultivate it – some of our dense, compact soil can be very tough to work with.
The worst I’ve come across was at Gin Gin while working for a native revegetation program. It was like trying to break through rock planting those trees, but we did a good job and the area looked great just past the servo the last time I saw it.
For high clay soils you will need a clay breaker. Gypsum will break it down and is readily available from all hardware stores. It also removes excess sodium and adds calcium to the soil.
I’ll try not to blather on about those details too much – just know that Gypsum is useful and enriching and I have a bag sitting in my shed as it is an old garden staple.
Is the dry soil environmental? Is there a hot reflective surface close by like a road, driveway or car?
I’m going to apply more wetter soil on one side of the front yard than the other because the other side gets sheltered and the side I have pictured gets full sun and a white car parked there so it needs far more care than the other side, which has shelter from a tree.
If you have something that falls out of the range of the basics, I’m happy to talk anything gardening. It’s why I created my Facebook page Ray’s Sunshine Plants, as a free gardening advice page to spread the love and joy of gardening after Cooper’s Home Hardware shut down.
I changed it into a business page when I started working for myself but I’m always happy to talk gardening without selling you something.
I really want to get that point across – it’s not a bother, whatever your question is or if you want to show off some pretty flowers I’m here for that, just flick through a Facebook message to Ray’s Sunshine Plants or contact through www.rayssunshineplants.com.au.