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How to Keep Soil Moist

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017

Keeping garden soil moist presents a challenge to both new and experienced gardeners. Summer heat, drought and inappropriate soil preparation can cause soil to lack the ability to retain water. Garden soil must have some components to allow absorption and retention of water. Learning how to keep soil moist will help preserve your expensive plantings as well as limit the frequency of actual watering.

Create a garden or amend your existing garden with additives that naturally retain water. Heavy clay soils don't hold water well, causing it to run off before ever seeping in to benefit your plants.

Turn over the top 8-12 inches of your garden bed with the spade or rotoiller before planting any flowers. If existing plants are growing, carefully turn over the soil between the plants. Dig at least 10-12 inches away from each plant base to protect well-established roots.

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of peat moss or compost to the soil surface. Turn over the garden again to work these additives into the garden soil.

Smooth the soil surface with a rake to level the garden.

Apply a 4- to 5-inch layer of mulch around existing plants or after planting your shrubs, perennials or annual. This layer of mulch acts to retain moisture so it reaches 6-8 inches deep in the garden. Mulch also limits evaporation from the soil after watering.

Don't water with a sprinkler if possible since light water application rarely soaks into the soil. Instead, water individual plants for 20 seconds, aiming the hose towards the roots of the plant. This allows deep soaking into the soil to keep it moist.

Consider using a soaker hose for even distribution of water throughout the soil. Soaker hoses work by allowing slow seepage of water that gives the soil plenty of time to absorb the water.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Rototiller (optional)
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Garden hose and water
  • Soaker hose

Tip

  • Layers of leaves or compost applied to the top of the soil must be stirred into the soil for maximum benefit. If this layer isn't mixed in, it simply forms a barrier that prevents absorption.