Late summer and autumn are the most challenging time for gardens grown on sandy soil. If your garden is not coping, you can beat the heat by increasing your garden’s ability to hold water.
GeoCatch’s Bay OK Gardens officer, Lisa Massey, says that it’s never too late to make your garden more waterwise.
“You can help your plants survive this period before the first rains come by increasing soil moisture as much as possible,” Lisa said.
“Garden jobs like mulching and applying soil wetter are essential in making every drop count and to protect valuable topsoil from the scorching heat.
“You can also increase your soil’s water holding capacity by adding organic matter and soil amendments,” she said
The thin layer of topsoil is the most important part of garden soil, and the most prone to drying out. A thick layer of coarse chunky mulch applied to garden beds and all landscaped areas will prevent evaporation from bare soil. Mulch is also a great addition to pots and planters. Not only does mulch make the garden look great, but it also has a cooling effect on the garden. Mulch also reduces evaporation, increases soil water retention, suppresses weeds, allows water to infiltrate and adds organic matter to soil as it breaks down.
Water repellency is a common issue for sandy soil and can make summer watering efforts futile. When water is unable to penetrate the soil it causes runoff – and that means all your irrigation down the drain. If you have dry patches on your lawn, it is likely caused by water repellency.
A good quality soil wetter will quickly combat this by breaking down the waxy coating on the soil particles, which will assist water penetration, movement of water through the soil and soil re-wetting.
Healthy soil is also key to a waterwise garden and healthy plants. Add organic matter like compost and composted manures to improve soil health, and clay to improve soil structure. It’s a good idea to improve soil with these products whenever installing garden beds, lawns or planting into existing beds.
If you’d like to be a Garden Guardian of the Bay and save water in the garden, visit the GeoCatch website and join the Bay OK Garden Club on Facebook. Protect our Bay, Garden this Way!
This project is delivered by GeoCatch through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, in partnership with South West Catchments Council. It is also part of Royalties for Region’s Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways programs. These State Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west estuaries.