Have you heard of wetting agents? Do you know what they actually do and why? The main purpose of wetting agents is to increase the free flow of water throughout the soil profile for your lawn and your gardens.
Water resistant (or hydrophobic soils) are those where the dispersement of water is uneven so that some areas get enough water while other get very little. Hydrophobic soils may also have soil that is coated with a waxy type of substance which makes the soil resist the flow of water. Water resistant soil will also push the water down deeper into the water table faster than usual – this could end up meaning that your lawn needs more water than is typical.
For hydrophobic or water-resistant soil, the application of wetting agents aids in breaking down the waxy coating, allowing the soil to more freely absorb, disperse and retain water.
You’ll get a more even coverage of the water and less dry patches of lawn. The result will be less water left sitting on the top of the lawn to be evaporated, water won’t be so quickly forced away from the top soil, and you’ll get an overall healthier lawn.
Wetting agents can also be of benefit to soil that hold onto too much water. With the application of wetting agents, water will again flow more freely, allowing the water to drain away from the top soil more easily instead of becoming trapped.
There are limitations to how much a wetting agent can achieve. If your soil is heavily clay based then the soil may need more than just a wetting agent – the soil may need to be permanently improved for drainage by being blended with coarse sand or even removed altogether and replaced with a sandy loam.
How often to use wetting agents
Included in your normal lawn care regimen – wetting agents are best applied twice a year; in Autumn and Spring. If your soil has minimal issues with water retention, once a year may be all that is required. If your lawn has severe problems, wetting agents can also be applied in Summer.
Application and Safety
Unlike fertilisers that can cause toxicity if applied too frequently or in too large an amount, wetting agents present no such risk.
While they won’t cause in problems, applying them too frequently is a waste of money – once they have done their job there is nothing more that can be achieved.
Measure your lawn and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application. Wetting agents can be applied using a fertiliser spreader or by hand. The best rule is to apply moderately; you will receive the best results without wasting money by applying un-needed product.