When rare plants and perennials need extra moister retention we dig in coil peat which is made from old coconut trees. This helps keep moister in the ground for longer, we do not recomend you stop watering!.Coil Peat is excellent for bog plants like some of the Primulas. We do not advise you use in clay soils as this may make the soil retain to much water in wet weather.
Extra Moisture for Soil
Improving Sandy Soil
When we started the gardens at Clover Hill the soil was sand based, at first we did not think much of it as for the first couple of years it never seemed to stop raining! we just used collected used horse straw from the randwich race course stables! (when you could drive in and get it for free when ever I went to Sydney)
When the weather started to go into a dry period then it became a problem, the soil dried out so badly that no matter how much you watered you could not make it penerate the surface to the plants roots.
Sandy soils are the most difficult to deal with, when some nurseries and gardeners talk about there drought tolerant plants they are talking about on there soil types which in most cases are of good fertility and much heavier then ours. Many of the plants that they say are drought hardy will not survive on truely light sandy soil without major soil conditioning even then some my not not sivive for long! this is not just our expreience put many other good gardeners (who also don't have a non stop supply of water like a bore or very deep pockets!) are saying the same story about some of these plants. If we say a plant is drought tolerant then it truley is! if it can live and thrive in our sandy dry part of our garden in full sun and be wind blown it gets 10 stars from us! look out for these plants on our website.
Here are some ideas on improving sandy soils.
Step 1. Dig over the soil to a spades depth at least. if you can take out some of this soil to make room for the compost you will need to add then do so. Add a wetter agent, liquid or granular, mix well into the soil.
Step 2. Add about half the amount of compost and good quility cow manure to the same amount of soil, eg: 1 bucket compost & cow manure to 1 bucket soil.
Step 3. If you are going to be planting plants that need extra moister dig in some coco peat, the amount will depend on what you are planting.
Step 4. If you can let the area settle for a week or so and water at least once every 2 days. If you are in a hurry like I always am you can start planting!
Step 5. Mulch, Mulch,Mulch! use a good quility mulch, the best you can afford, well composted leaf mulch/mould is the best. Compost straw is very good as well.
An added note, it's a good Idea to turn over sandy soils and add more compost and soil wetting agents from time to time, if you can do this every 12 months you will find it most benifical. Unfortunetly this is not always possible.