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Wetting agents, water crystals, hydrophobic soils – what ‘s the deal?

March 7, 2021

Wetting agents, water crystals, hydrophobic soils – what ‘s the deal?

Key Points:

  • Aeration and topdressing at this time of year can help the performance of most lawns
  • Soil additives and conditioners can help improve your soil for your lawn to thrive
  • For specialised local knowledge on your soil issues talk to your local Kings Pride Turf Grower

Soil type and nutrient levels can have the biggest bearing on the condition of your lawn.

Soils come in a range of types that vary on scale from being sandy to clayey – with all manner of ratios of these in between. And apart from the structural make-up, there’s the nutrient and organic content to consider as well.

Without getting too technical about soil issues, there are a few simple things we can look at to help get a better growing medium for your lawn.

Compaction is probably one of the biggest soil problems in lawns and usually occurs just under the grass thatch on the surface of the soil layer. Quite often simple foot-traffic, kids and pets causes the soil to pack down where the airspace gets forced out and develops into a hard, impermeable layer.

Water can then lay on the surface and the roots and microbes and worms that normally thrive in this environment find it hard to survive and ultimately, the lawn struggles as well.

This can also happen on sandy soils where either the soil that came with your turf delivery is causing a problem or thatch build-up over time is causing the problem.

Aeration in such cases is usually the best option and the addition of a sand-rich topdressing-mix can help to work into the aeration holes and provide for better drainage and airflow.

If you haven’t laid your lawn yet or are looking at starting again with new turf, then it’s a great time to get your soils structure and nutrient levels in shape before new turf.

If your lawn is already established and not past the point of no return, then in many cases some remediation work can help to bring it back to peak condition.

In both situations it can pay to carry out a soil pH test to ensure levels are suitable as it can be the case with struggling lawn areas that high alkaline or acidic soils are affecting the condition of the turf.

Taking a pH test with a simple kit available from most hardware and nursery supply centres will help to rule out any issues from the start.

If high or low in pH then you’ll need to add agricultural lime or sulphur to bring the levels back into balance.

Depending on what stage you are at with your lawn, there are a number of soil additives and conditioners that can assist in bringing your soil up to a better condition for your lawn to thrive.

A few additives and conditioners are listed below but for the best advice talk to your local Kings Pride Turf Grower for some local specialised knowledge.

  • Wetting agents work by attracting water to the soil and allow the moisture to be available to the lawn’s roots. It can allow the water to penetrate rather than run off or seep further into the soil.

They are in the main a type of detergent that attracts water to the soil particles and come in liquid and granular form. They are particularly useful for sandy soils that are prone to becoming hydrophobic, repelling water, especially after dry periods, but can be used on any soil to help make the most of our precious water.

  • Water crystals absorb and store water available to the root zone. For new lawns, the crystals need to be incorporated into the soil prior to laying the turf, in the same way you use a starter fertiliser and should be avoided at using after your turf is down as they can create a slippery mess on the surface.
  • Starter Fertiliser provides essential nutrients and trace elements for your lawn. There are a range of starter fertiliser blends available and it’s a good idea to ask your kings Pride Turf Grower on their recommendation for establishing a new lawn.
  • Lime (calcium carbonate) helps raise pH and neutralise acidic soil.
  • Gypsum is calcium sulfate dihydrate and helps break down clay soils.
  • Lime and gypsum are ideal additives prior to installing new turf, although they can still be added when topdressing to help with compaction and breaking up a clayey soil.
  • Leaving your lawn clippings on your lawn is a good idea as it breaks down to act as a natural fertilise. Aerate and topdress in warmer months to help alleviate any compaction.
  • Apply organic or synthetic fertilisers a few times a year to keep your soil and lawn in peak condition.

For further information and to get some local knowledge on what type of grass would suit your circumstances, talk to one of our Kings Pride Turf Growers in a location near you – details on grower section on this site.