Modifying soil to improve drainage

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Gardenlover, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    How does one modify a soil to improve it's free drainage?
    I was thinking to add organic matter into it..such as Peat, Manure, Sand and till it by machine into a good depth....Am I on the right track?
     
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    Peat and Sand, yes. Manure, not so much. Coir (coconut fibre) is a good, ecologically friendlier alternative to peat. Small stones can also be helpful if you're not dealing with clay soils, but are a hindrance if you are.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Where there is substantial, lingering puddling drainage lines need to be laid - if there is a lower place the water can be drained into, without adversely impacting neighboring land or other features. Otherwise, berms, mounds or raised beds filled with good topsoil are more to the point. An amended soil will immediately begin backsliding to its original texture as soon as organic amendments start to decompose. Mineral additives like sand have to be used in unwieldy amounts in order to change the texture of a soil significantly - unless there is a fairly high proportion of sand in the soil already. And if too much sand is added an excessively drained, chronically infertile (leached) soil may be produced.
     
  4. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    For a 3 foot wide....20 foot long area how much would the "unwildey" amount of sand have to be?
    Sand will decompose too(eventually)?
    Let me make it clear there is no puddling in this target area of mine for ammendment. I want to plant MM106 rootstock apples...this rootstock is EXTREMELY susceptible to collar rot!
    The soil might be ok as it is...just trying to improve it a liitle in terms of drainage.
    What do you think Ron?
    you always have good advice on this stuff.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Sand and other mineral materials don't decompose and disappear after being dug into a bed. However, it would sure be a lot easier to bring in topsoil coarse enough to sustain the apples and plant in that, stay out of the existing soil.
     
  6. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    I don't get it...

    Dig a big hole...Then Plant the tree...Then fill the existing hole with TOP SOIL, not native soil?
    (do I have it right?)
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    No. Put the topsoil on top of the existing soil, in a berm, mound or raised bed. If for some reason you cannot raise the grade in this way, then you would instead excavate and replace the existing soil - when you can dig out a big enough area. Possibly 3' wide would be big enough for fully dwarf apple rootstocks, as long as there would not be a problem with water seeping in from the sides.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  8. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    thanks ron
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Note correction, "soil on topsoil" not intended.
     
  10. phoenixtropicals

    phoenixtropicals Member

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    Large grain sand can help improve drainage. You, of course, don't want your plant in 100% sand because it has little nutrition, but mixing sand in with your existing soil will make the soil more permiable. Be this as it may, to really have good drainage the water needs somewhere to go. Here in Phoenix we have very hard rock layers just a couple of feet below the soil so the water can just sit there, which is obviously bad. In this case your best option is to just dig. Picks and shovels can work, but really solid stuff necessitates mechanized means. I use a hammer drill when I hit the really nasty rock we have here. I have a page about dealing with really hard soil, specifically the kind of hard pan we have in the southwestern U.S. if you would like to check it out. Good luck!

    http://www.phoenixtropicals.com/soil.html
     
  11. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    Same as my olive farm in Greece..exactly clay and hard pan on bottom.

    It has to be "large grain" sand or any sand?
    100& sand is redicoulous...
    I bought "play sand" from the garden centre and it indicates on the package one of it's main use is a soil additive. Is this good enough?
     
  12. phoenixtropicals

    phoenixtropicals Member

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    I think play sand would work. I used construction sand last time, which is a little bit larger grains and quite a lot cheaper than play sand.
     
  13. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    if construction sand has larger grains....I will buy that
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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  15. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    the bottom line of this article states to ADD SAND to an already CLAY SOIL....don't get it. There are members on this forum that have incorporated sand into their garden soil and have improved drainage. They have gotten the results they were after. This is what I need to do.
     
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The problems occur when sand and clay are mixed in incorrect proportions. An ideal soil has 50% pore
    space (with the remainder consisting of minerals and organic matter). The pore spaces in a clay soil are
    all small, while those in a sandy soil are all large. When one mixes a sandy and a clay soil together, the
    large pore spaces of the sandy soil are filled with the smaller clay particles. This results in a heavier,
    denser soil with less total pore space than either the sandy or the clay soil alone. (A good analogy is the
    manufacture of concrete, which entails mixing sand with cement - a fine particle substance. The results
    are obvious.) A soil must consist of nearly 50% sand by total volume before it takes on the
    characteristics of a sandy soil. For most sites, it would be prohibitively expensive to remove half the
    existing soil and add an equal volume of sand and then till it to the necessary 18-24"
     
  17. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    Still would work...just $$costly?
     

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