Irrigation Tips for Dense Soil


If you want to grow a garden or tend to the grass, the trees on your landscape, you may find that your soil is unusually dense. If you have dense soil or your soil is clay-like, here are some tips for keeping the lawn adequately watered.

Dense Soil Characteristics

Dense or clay-like soil is hard-packed, so it is difficult to water the ground when it is dry adequately. However, dense soil will remain moist for long periods once the water soaks into it. Dense soil can also develop puddles when it has too much water and can inhibit the growth of plant roots.

Solutions for Too Much Water

If dense soil starts to puddle, add gypsum, humus, or peat moss to the lawn to soak up the extra moisture. These lawn aids also loosen the ground to prevent puddles from forming again.

Consider Location When Watering

If your landscape is slightly inclined or level, make sure that the new plants or trees in your yard have a saucer around the base of the plant. Use mulch to hold the dish in place. If you are planting on a slope or hill, dig into the incline to create a terrace to prevent soil erosion around the plants. Drip irrigation or a soaker hose is best for penetrating the soil with water to maintain soil health.

Planting Shrubs and Trees

It is important to learn about the soil your plants need before you start planting. Don’t plant trees and shrubs that do not thrive well in dense soil, since the plants could grow sickly and week, and sometimes die.

Some plants that grow well in dense soil include hydrangeas, which bloom in a beautiful blue shade and are a decorative border shrub. The blooms are large and show up in the summer. Hydrangeas can grow more than 24 inches per year, which makes them a great hedge if you are trying to protect a garden or add texture to an outdoor living space.

North privet also grows over 24 inches in a year and thrives best in dense soil in hardiness zones 4 through 8. The north privet is the fastest growing shrub in the US and can get up to 3 feet tall in a year. The plant is semi-evergreen and serves as a hedge or partition on your landscape. North privet takes to shearing very well, so you can customize the plant to the shape and size of your liking.

You may also want to add crape myrtle to your garden space. This striking fuchsia flower is referred to as the “lilac of the South” and grows best in zones 7-10. In addition to the beautiful blooms, crape myrtle also has attractive deep green foliage and stunning dark brown stems. You can cause the plant as a small tree to border your lawn or as a decorative plant to add more color to outdoor structures to spaces with gazebos or fountains.

Watering Trees and Shrubs

Its essential water newly planted shrubs and trees in dense soil thoroughly and regularly, especially during the initial growing season. It takes a considerable amount of water to soak root balls that are 1.5 to 2 inches under the surface of the soil. A garden or soaker hose set at a trickle is best for consistent watering. Water the soil deeply and slowly until the whole root ball is soaked with water. It is best to water dense soil 1 or 2 times a week based on the weather. Small plants should be watered more, especially if they are close to larger shrubs or trees. Tinier plants have a smaller root system that competes with bigger plants for available water. Established trees and shrubs usually do not need as much water as newer plants unless there is severely dry weather or the plants have experienced stress or damage.

Watering Planting Perennials in Dense Soil

Perennial roots are not as deep as trees and shrubs. However, perennials still need ample water for healthy growth and flowering. If you water only the roots and avoid watering the foliage, you can prevent disfigurement or premature loss of the blooms. It is best to use a soaker hose for watering perennials. Give the plants one or two inches of water weekly in a single application; this watering system is best unless there is extreme heat or winds.

Dense Soil Tips for Vegetables and Annuals

Vegetables and annuals grow best when you water them at the soil level instead of on the foliage. Watering at the level of the soil reduces disease and extends the life of fruit and flowers. It is ideal to use soaker hoses, trench watering, or trickle irrigation to water annuals and vegetable plants. Drip systems or hoses save water while delivering adequate water to the roots without puddling; these systems keep the soil cooler to reduce heat stress.

Hoses and drip systems produce higher plant yields and overall healthier plants. If you use the trenching method, which is also useful, you will need to dig troughs between the flowerbeds, flood the troughs, and let the water soil deeply and slowly into the soil. It is also a good idea to use mulches like newspapers, hay, plastic sheeting or colorful wood chips to cut down on weeds and keep the soil moisturized between rain and watering.

Caring For Laws with Dense Soil

You can keep the grass in your lawn green and healthy by watering early in the morning so that the grass will dry before nightfall. Morning watering reduces mold spores and other diseases that developed in environments that are dark and moist. Water the lawn about two inches deep every week, depending on the weather and the structure of the soil; this makes your turf resistant to drought and encourages deep roots.

If you are using automatic sprinklers to water the lawn, ensure that the sprinklers are not programmed for shallow, frequent watering. The grass will only grow at the surface of the soil, and this makes the grass more susceptible to disease and pests. If there is new sod on your lawn, keep the turf evenly watering until it is resistant to tugging. Once the roots are established, which takes about a month, deep-soak the sod about once a week for 1-3 hours.

A rain gauge is the only way to know if your lawn is getting adequate natural moisture. You can use an empty food can or measuring cup in the garden. An inch or rain is enough to fill a tuna can, or you can use a cat food can. An inch or two of water a week in one application is ideal during summer heat for most garden plants and grass; however, this does not apply to new plants. When the weather cools down or is dry, adjust the watering schedule to keep dense soil moist.

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