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How to Grow in Sandy Soil




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How To Grow Plants in Sandy Soil

During periods of dry weather government often will need to restrict water availability or raise the cost of water. Most plants that we like such as the daylily suffer when too dry. Below are ways to keep the plants we enjoy growing nicely yet limit the amount of water usage.

Modify The Soil.  Sandy soil doesn't hold water long enough for plant roots to get the amount of water needed. Fertilize easily washes through sandy soil again denying plant roots what they need. A solution is to change the soil close to a plant to make it more water retentive.

  1. Determine about how far your plant sends out it's roots.  Next determine about how deep the roots go.  Daylily roots can spread 18 inches each way. This is the space you want to modify. With the target area defined next add items that hold water in a soil such as organic material (leaves, pine needles, wood chips, horse or cow manure, grass clippings, peat moss, and compost). Over do it. Store bought organic products are composted cow manure, top soil, peat moss and wood chips.  A 40 pound bag of composed cow manure is ideal. Use one 40 pound bag PER plant. Almost everyone adds too little. Over do it the first time.

  2. In addition to organic material, clay will also help soils retain water. Kitty liter is mainly clay. Be sure to mix ingredients down in the soil where the roots grow. Dumping clay or organic material in a thin layer at the surface does little good plus it can be unattractive. One pail per hole of used (or new) kitty liter is about right. Mix it in.

  3. Add water holding crystals into the planting hole. Lowes sells Soil Moist water holding crystals in a the garden area of the store for about $13 which is enough crystals to treat dozens of planting holes. Instructions and a measuring device come with each container. Again it is important that these crystals be down in the soil versus at the surface.  These crystals will expand when given water and slowly release water to plant roots for several days or even weeks. One drawback is they last up to five years and then loose effectiveness. These crystals are safe to handle and safe for soil creatures and the environment.

Hold The Water That Is There. After a rain or you water the soil is moist. But evaporation will quickly deplete the available water. Slow up that loss of water by making a top barrier.

  1. Mulch with leaves, pine needles, wood chips, grass clippings, old newspapers and numerous other items. Put newspaper ten or more sheets thick over lapped then mulch over the top to prevent the paper from blowing away.

  2. Mulch even heavier. Over do it.

  3. Mulch again after the old mulch has broken down into organic water holding soil.

Water effectively. Some methods of watering are wasteful of water such as typical lawn pop-up sprinklers. Too much of the water sprayed evaporates into the air where it does plant roots no good.

  1. Soaker hoses conserve water putting water into the soil with little evaporation loss.

  2. Hoses that have tiny emitter hoses or tubes every foot or so likewise put water where it is needed with little evaporation. Both methods work even better if tucked under a mulch.


Johnson Daylily Garden
Jeff & Linda Johnson
70 Lark Ave.
Brooksville, FL 34601-1319
(352) 544-0330


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