How to deal with hydrophobic soil


Many things in life get dehydrated – us humans, animals, plants, etc. But did you know that soil can also get dehydrated?

Following a prolonged period of dry weather (or a lack of watering) soil can become dehydrated and that can make it actually repel water rather than letting it soak in. This is what’s known as hydrophobic soil and it’s a problem that can happen pretty much anywhere that experiences long dry spells.

The reason that hydrophobic soil loses its water retention properties is because it lacks organic ingredients – the parts of it that were once living things.

Here are a few ingredients you can add to hydrophobic soil to bring it back to life:

Wetting agents

Wetting agents can be bought from most nurseries and garden stores. They’re easy to use and will fix hydrophobic nearly every time. They act a bit like washing detergents do on grease and grime, and remove the surface tension that’s present in your soil. This then allows water to soak into the soil and reach the lower parts where the roots of your plants inevitably are.


Compost is the best thing you can add to hydrophobic soil as it contains all of the organic matter your soil is lacking. A good organic compost made from old fruit and vegetable scraps is great for rehydrating hydrophobic soil.

Animal manure

Like compost, animal manure helps restore plenty of the organic matter your soil needs. You can either buy it pre-rotted from a garden centre or even on the side of the road, or make your own. Just be sure to allow it to break down for about a month before you apply it to your soil.


Mulched plant matter helps improve soil and keep it moist during dry spots. It provides a barrier to the sun and prevents all of the soil’s moisture being lost through evaporation. Again, you can either buy it or make it yourself.

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