How to create a thriving Garden in Sandy Soils

Many gardeners are challenged with creating a beautiful thriving garden on very poor ‘gutless’ soils. Not only are these sandy soils low in nutrient and organic matter but they are often hydrophobic (they repel water) and are difficult to re-wet. 

Therefore in order to create a thriving garden you will need to add some form of soil amendment.  The ideal soil type for growing plants is a sandy loam; comprising sand, silt and clay as well as organic matter. This soil situation is also the most conducive to supporting a rich palette of soil organisms and micro-organisms which are the real secret to a flourishing garden.

Gardeners can improve their sandy soil by the addition of clay, in the form of Bentonite clay or Kaolin clay (both are locally sourced). This improves water retention and wettability. Other beneficial soil additions include Zeolite and Spongelite which are ancient rock minerals that feed the soil and aid with moisture retention and nutrient exchange. There are several excellent products on the market that combine all these elements in an easy to apply format.

It is important to note that the Clay, Zeolite and Spongelite combination will work best when worked into the top 10cm to 30cm of your garden bed and combined with organic soil conditioner or compost.

Choose plants that are appropriate to your soil zone, climatic situation and water supply. More information is available at www.sercul.org.au  on growing local plants and www.watercorporation.com.au for a range or hardy exotic and Australian plants.

After planting, cover all beds with a chunky mulch (one that will allow good water penetration) and be sure to keep the mulch away from plant stems. Mulching your garden in this way will help to suppress weed growth, moderate  soil temperature and reduce soil moisture evaporation.