The most heartbreaking moment for any plant lover is seeing their plants dying. To keep your plants healthy and lively, you must ensure your soil is moist. There are various types of plants for which moist soil is required, but too much watering can damage their health. In those cases, you need to know how to keep your soil moist without using water.
For keeping your soil moist without water, you can add extra components to your soil to boost water retention (inc. mushroom compost). Mulches, hydrogel, and water-absorbent mats can also help to retain the moisture of the soil. An upgraded drainage system will help to maintain the soil moisture level too.
There are many other ways to maintain soil moisture without water. A plant’s proper growth depends mainly on the type of soil. Moist soil will help your plants grow smoothly. That is why, in this article, I will discuss a few simple methods for keeping your soil moist that do not involve using water. I have also included some other information that might be useful for you.
5 Ways to Keep Your Soil Moist Without Using Water
Most gardeners face trouble with balancing soil condensation. Soil getting too much or too little moisture are both awful for your plants. Thus, the aim is to keep the soil moist, not soggy or dry.
To maintain the correct moisture level, you have to apply a few methods other than just watering. Here are five ways for keeping your soil moist without using water-
1. Improve Retention with Added Soil Components
Adding extra components to your soil will be great for improving the physical nature of the soil. You can boost the water retention of your soil by adding some of these components. By adding additional materials to your soil, you can increase the soil’s ability to maintain moisture. Furthermore, it will help your soil to get nutrients.
There are different component types you should try. Mushroom compost, garden soil, sphagnum peat moss, topsoil are to name a few. You can also use some non-organic compost such as perlite or vermiculite.
- Adding these components to your soil should help with moisture retention and aeration.
- It helps to maintain pH balance and improves drainage.
- Some components, such as sphagnum peat moss or humus, absorb water and later release it for plant usage.
So, adding these extra elements is a must to enhance moisture retention. Mix the organic or non-organic materials that are more useful and enhance the top of your soil for around 5-10 inches in depth with it. You can also dig the materials in if you are comfortable doing that.
2. Add Mulch to Avoid Evaporation
Mulch is an excellent option to keep the soil cool and moist during the summer season. It helps to lock the moisture in the soil. However, to get the most benefits, you have to choose mulch according to the type of plants.
Various kinds of materials can be used as mulch such as leaves, grass clippings, straw, newspaper, and kitchen scraps. Adding mulch will not only aid in the absorption of moisture from rainwater, but also help to reduce the evaporation process. You have to keep in mind the weather while mulching.
- Mulching reduces water loss and moderates soil temperature.
- It protects soil from intense weather.
- It helps to reduce the growth of harmful weeds.
- It prevents erosion and soil compaction.
- Soil gets beneficial microorganisms due to mulching.
It would be best if you remove all the weeds before applying mulch. However, be sure to apply the right amount of it. Apply 1 to 3 inches of mulch and keep at least 5 inches distance between mulch and the plant’s base.
3. Till Soil Regularly and Eliminate Weeds
Tilling soil and removing weeds is also essential for preventing water evaporation, thus keeping the land moist. Tilling the soil regularly increases aeration and prevents water from pooling at surface level. On the other hand, removing weeds from the ground will aid in keeping the soil moist as the weeds won’t soak up the moisture from the ground.
Tilling the soil means breaking it, turning it over, and overall loosening the soil. You can use a shovel, pitchfork, or simply a tiller to till the ground well. To begin, turn the soil over by digging 5-8 inches. After turning over all of your garden’s soil, use a rake to level the surface The process will help the soil get enough oxygen and nutrients needed to maintain moisture level.
Weeds are a barrier to keeping your soil moisturized. You can get rid of weeds in many ways. Eliminating the weeds by using bare hands or a gardening spade are the most common ways of getting rid of them. You can also use natural weed-killing options such as vinegar or boiling water to remove the weeds. Some chemicals like herbicides might also help in this regard.
However, you have to be careful while tilling the soil and eliminating weeds. Tilling too much might result in compacted soil. And, if you are careless while removing weeds, you might end up pulling necessary plants out.
4. Use Hydrogel and Water-absorbent Mats
Some other things such as hydrogels and water-absorbent mats are fantastic options to keep the soil moist. Both of them work perfectly to absorb water and then using the water later by slowly releasing as moisture.
Hydrogels are human-made polymer crystals. When these come into contact with water, they puff up by absorbing it. Thus, the majority of the water does not drain or evaporate. Later, the hydrogels slowly release the water, allowing the soil to remain moist for a long time. As these crystals release water bit by bit, the soil is less likely to become soggy.
Besides, water-absorbent mats are great for keeping the soil moist with potted plants. You have to place the mats in the pot under the soil. The mat absorbs water when you water your plants. The mat stays in contact with the soil and thus helps it to stay moisturized.
You can get hydrogels from your nearby nursery and water-absorbent mats from a local gardening shop or an online shop. On rainy days, it is better not to use too many hydrogels. Also, if you are using water-absorbent mats, don’t water too frequently. Doing these might cause overly moist soil.
5. Enhance Soil Drainage System
It’s crucial to have a well-drained system in your garden if you want to keep your plants moist. If the soil drains too quickly, it will lead to dry soil. Wet ground, on the other hand, is caused by improperly drained soil.
Drainage systems are classified into several types. Two well-known systems are the herringbone drainage system and the French drainage system.
The herringbone drainage system entails digging a series of deep trenches around your garden in areas where you will walk. The French drainage system is similar to the Herringbone system in many ways, but it does not involve the usage of pipes.
You can use some methods of enhancing soil drainage system-
- Elevate the soil with hilling or raised beds.
- Install drainage pipes and set up an irrigation system.
- Redirect the water flow by digging a channel.
- Grow plants that need more water such as turtlehead and marigold.
- Install underground drainage tiles to improve the system.
A good drainage system helps to prevent water accumulation and reduce soil erosion. Additionally, it aids in removing toxic materials from your soil. Even if it rains too much or you accidentally give too much water to the soil, a well-functioned drainage system will help to reduce excess water.
These methods will help you to keep your soil moist. However, you have to keep in mind that using these methods correctly depends on the weather and the type of soil you are dealing with.
If the sunshine is too intense and the weather is too hot, you have to manage your shade to keep the soil hydrated. On the contrary, if it is raining too much, you have to make a pathway to let the water pass away properly.
Why is Keeping Soil Moist Important?
Soil moisture is one of the determinant factors of a plant’s proper growth. Not only that, keeping the soil moist is necessary because it influences soil temperature, regulates soil structure, and determines the fitness of a land.
The following are some of the important factors of soil moisture:
- Regulates soil structure and forming process
Soil structure refers to how the particles and substances that makeup soil are organized and arranged. Good soil structure is essential for farming. The texture of the soil affects how well it retains water. Having a good level of moisture in the soil gives a good texture to it.
Soil moisture level affects the amount of water and air, affects salinity, and the presence of harmful compounds. The ductility and density of the soil are also regulated by soil moisture. So, the overall formation of a specific land is decided by the hydration level of the soil.
- Controls soil temperature
Soil moisture has a direct influence on soil temperature. In comparison to dry soil, moist soil has a higher specific heat. As a result, wet soil is cooler than dry soil. The temperature of moist soil is lower than that of dry soil because it heats up more slowly.
So, the heat capacity of the soil is regulated by the moisture of the soil. Soil temperature affects soil weathering. If the soil is moist, then the heat stays moderated, so there is a lower chance of drought and other heat-related problems in the field.
Besides, plant growth is influenced indirectly by soil temperature, which affects water and nutrient uptake as well as root development. A drop in temperature reduces water and nutrient uptake at a constant moisture content.
- Influences soil nutrients
Soil water contains lots of food nutrients. Adequate moisture increases organic matter decomposition, which releases N, P, and S, and improves nutrient absorption through diffusion. Insoluble nutrient-containing compounds can form when there is a lack of moisture.
Soil moisture helps to break down the minerals and nutrients of the land. As I have mentioned earlier, soil moisture has a notable effect on soil temperature. And the temperature of the soil influences nutrient absorption by altering the viscosity of the soil water and root nutrient transport. Thus, well-hydrated soil influences microorganisms and nutrients to a great extent.
- Determines readiness of fields
The moisture level of the soil determines the quality of the land. Understanding the characteristics of soil requires an understanding of moisture content. The moisture content of the soil determines whether it is liquid, plastic, or solid. The shear strength and compressibility of soils are regulated by this parameter’s value.
The more accurate the moisture level is, the more standard the field is. That’s why agricultural experts measure the soil moisture level before using any land for farming. In most cases, the land can be called fertile if the soil contains 25% air and 25% water, which is the ideal moisture level of the soil.
- Helps in plant growth
You have to maintain a certain level of soil moisture if you want to ensure the proper growth of a plant. The availability of soil moisture to sustain plant growth is a key factor in farm productivity. Plant death and yield loss can occur when there is insufficient moisture, whereas too much water causes root disease.
Most of the plants need a moisture range of 20-60% to obtain decent growth levels. As soil moisture determines the availability of nutrients in the soil, it is very important for the plants. Plants that lack natural nutrients produce inferior fruit and vegetables that are deficient in vitamins and basic nutrients. So, if you can maintain an accurate moisture level, your plants will grow healthy and fresh.
Is Too Much Water Harmful to Your Plant?
Too much water is just as bad as not enough water for your plants. Water will cut off the air supply to the roots and the microorganisms that live in healthy soil if the soil becomes waterlogged and remains that way. It may cause several diseases to your plants, and the roots of the plants might get rotten.
Your plants can die from over-watering. What makes it so deadly? There are several reasons why too much water is dangerous for your plant-
- Too much water limits the supply of oxygen to the plants. So, your plants don’t get enough oxygen to function properly.
- Due to over-watering, water-logging can occur. Poor drainage will lead to rotten roots of the plants.
- The plants don’t get a proper supply of required nutrients and microorganisms as water destroys them.
- Over-watering causes wilting and defoliation of the plants.
- If you water too much, your plant might get affected by several diseases such as Crown rot, Phytophthora, and Phytium.
- Mose, Algae, or Mold starts to grow in the soil and harm your plants.
- Due to too much watering, the leaves on your plants begin to turn yellow or brown.
- Your plant’s growth will be slow if you over-water them.
- The root hairs of your plants die out as a result of prolonged exposure to wet environments.
- Too much water washes out the nutrients, and the plants lose their natural disease tolerance.
- Sometimes plants start to produce a bad smell due to over-watering.
From the above points, it is clear that over-watering is very threatening for your plants too. So, it is very important to know how to keep the soil moist but not wet for the well-being of your plants.
When you start seeing the symptoms of over-watering in your plants, you have to stop watering them right away. Make sure there is a proper drainage system in the garden to pass the water away. You can use fungicides to keep your plants safe from fungus. Besides, avoid using fertilizers until the plant is cured.
Check on the soil if you see the soil is completely dried out, start watering again. However, you have to make sure you are not giving too much water to the plants again.
It would be best if your garden gets the optimum amount of water. How much water your garden requires is determined by various factors. The rate at which the soil absorbs and loses moisture, the weather in your area, and the sorts of plants you have are some of the factors.
With the correct level of soil moisture, you can have lively plants. So, keep the soil moist with or without the use of water. Try out the methods of keeping the soil moist I have mentioned in the article and get amazed by the fantastic results.
Go forward and be moist 🙂
Gardening becomes a lot more enjoyable when the soil is moist. Your plants will grow exactly as you want them to. By now, you have the proper knowledge on how to keep your soil moist without using water. No longer do you have to worry about your plants dying from excessive watering.
Thanks for reading through. Hopefully, this article was helpful to solve any problem that you might have had with caring for your plants. Good luck with making a beautiful garden.