What can I do to retain soil moisture?
Posted by Dobies Staff on 12 December 2013 12:10 pm

There are a number of measures that can be taken to help preserve soil moisture in hot dry summers or when there is a hose pipe ban in place. 

Avoid applying too much fertilizer which can lead to lush, soft growth which will quickly wilt under dry soil conditions. 

Planting crops such as courgettes, marrows, ridge cucumbers and strawberries through slits made in a sheet of mulch fabric will retain soil moisture and keep the fruit off the soil. It will also keep weeds under control. When using this fabric, the soil must be moist before covering the area and all weeds removed including their roots. 

Applying mulches in borders will help to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds. Organic mulch mats will break down to improve the soil structure and will release some nutrients into the soil. Suitable materials to use include garden compost, leaf mould, well rotted manure, and bark chippings.  Ideally organic mulches should be 5-7.5cm (2-3") deep. Mulches should be applied in to the soil in mid-late spring or autumn when the soil is moist and warm. Mulches of slate, gravel, pebbles and stone chipping look decorative and will also retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Bare soil has a large surface area which dries quickly and in exposed positions soil erosion can occur. Sowing a green manure will help to prevent soil erosion and when dug in will improve the soil structure, moisture holding capabilities and add nutrients back into the soil.

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