Maintaining moisture levels in your lawn
Are you having trouble when it rains or when you irrigate the water just tends to bead and run off? Your soil may be hydrophobic.
Hydrophobic: adjective 1. Tending to repel or fail to mix with water. 2. Of or suffering from hydrophobia.
Understanding Hydrophobic soils
This is where your soil is unable to reap the benefits of rain and or irrigation and water/moisture retention is lost. What is noticeable is that the water will tend to bead and run off rather than penetrate the soil layer.
If your soil is a victim of this, the turf in those areas can lack the ability to uptake plant nutrients and begin the onset of dry patch.
This will be noticeable against areas where moisture retention is significantly higher. Determining your sub soil will help you understand the requirements to prevent this issue.
Soils such as a rich sandy loam are the best for water retention where sandy soils are on the opposite scale with little moisture retention. Hydrophobic soil can be more common than not.
How do you tell if your soil is hydrophobic and what are the remedies? Testing your soil is quite simple and can be done with ease by any home owner or fanatic. The test is as easy using droplets of water within an area of bare soil and visually inspect what happens. If your droplet forms and sits on top of your soil for a small amount of time that’s a tell-tale sign your soil is repelling the water and is hydrophobic.
If on the other hand once the droplets are placed into the area and they dissipate and soak in quickly you now know that your soil has ability to allow the water to penetrate.
There are many soil wetters on the market in either granular and or liquid form, each one will state they will aid water penetration and retention, yet some will perform better than others and the biggest reason why it’s like anything you get what you pay for.
Soil wetters tend to say they make water wet. What does this mean? In simple terms a soil wetter can change the composition of the water by reducing its surface tension by the way of adding molecules, this will allow the water when dispersed to adhere to the water-repellent properties in the soil wetter and be drawn into the soil making it now wet.
Use of soil wetters are very beneficial for the home lawn, after an application of a soil wetter you will find that any amendments, fertilisers traditionally work better as the path to the root zone has been made easier.
Another easy way to help with water retention is aeration, where a machine will make a series of holes (depth to be determined by your contractor) to help eliminate compaction and allow the transfer of oxygen between your soil and the atmosphere and allow the water to enter the root zone where it is needed.
Remember that every profile is different, some profiles react instantly, and others can need aeration then the product applied. Soil wetters aren’t magic potions, yet they are a good product to have around to maximise the benefits of the products you use later.
As a guide soil wetters can be used as regularly as you want and or need. October, January and April are normally the months to apply as you are helping your lawn survive through the warmer season and then setting it up for the cooler months of Winter.
One of our biggest tips to aid hydrophobic soils is to get yourself a bottle of Hydramaxx or Hydramaxx G (granular) for long term soil moisture retention. We recommend you apply monthly as it’s provides fantastic penetration, outstanding retention and improved uniformity across your lawn and is available in a 2L Hose-On bottle or a 5L concentrate for larger turf areas. Hydramaxx also comes in a granular formulation too!