Wetting agents are a wonderful new addition to the products available for homeowners to care for their lawns and gardens, which have been released and risen in great popularity over the last couple of decades.
The purpose of wetting agents is to increase the free flowing of water throughout the soil profile for both lawns and gardens, and seeing as though this is a site specialized in lawn care for Saint Augustine lawns, we'll be concentrating on the benefits of wetting agents for Saint Augustine lawns from now on.
Wetting Agents and Water Resistant Soils
Water resistant, or hydrophobic soils are very common in areas where the soils are often coated with a waxy type of substance which makes the soils resist the free flowing of water. Some sandy soil types can be hydrophobic depending on the region.
Not only will the soil under the Saint Augustine lawn resist saturation from the water, the dispersement of the water will be uneven - leaving some areas of soil getting enough water and other areas which get very little water, and that’s why we sometimes see brown patches of Saint Augustine turf which prove to have dry soil underneath the turf when tested.
Past this, a hydrophobic soil will naturally push the water in the soil down deeper into the water table far more quickly than a regular lawn soil might do, and as such the lawn may need more water than would otherwise be necessary.
In these cases, wetting agents will aid in breaking down that waxy coating, and as a result will allow the soil to more freely absorb and disperse and hold onto that same water. This will result in more even coverage of the water in the soil, meaning no more dry patches of Saint Augustine grass, as well as less water being left sitting on top of the lawn to be evaporated away by the sun, also the water will not be so quickly forced away from the top soil and down into the water table, so the Saint Augustine lawn should become much healthier while using less water.
Wetting Agents and Water Logged Soils
Wetting agents are all about the free flowing of water.
We've just seen how wetting agents can treat a hydrophobic soil, now lets see how it can treat the exact opposite problem of a St Augustine lawn soil which holds onto too much water.
By applying wetting agents to a water logged soil, the wetting agents will once again do what they are designed to do, which is to allow for the free flowing of water. This time however, the wetting agents will allow the water going onto the St Augustine lawn to drain away from the topsoil of the lawn with much greater ease, instead of becoming trapped.
Just be aware that there are limitations to what wetting agents can achieve in these circumstances. If the lawn is heavily clay based then the soil may need to be permanently improved for drainage by blending the soil with a coarse sand, or may even need to be removed altogether and replaced with a sandy loam or other soil more suitable for growing lawns.
How Often To Use Wetting Agents
Wetting Agents should be a part of our normal Saint Augustine grass lawn care regimen.
Twice a year is usually optimum for most lawns with soil water issues, once in Spring and once again in Fall.
However, if the Saint Augustine lawn soil doesn't have great issues with water repelling or water logging, then once a year should suffice in the Spring.
If our lawn has severe problems then we can add another wetting agents treatment in the Summer time in addition to the treatments in the Spring and Fall, without any concern.
Are Wetting Agents Safe and How Should The Be Applied
Lastly comes the question of whether wetting agents are safe for use, can we use too much and can we apply them too often? These questions arise from our knowledge of lawn fertilizers which can become toxic to the turf if used too frequently or if too much fertilizer is applied at any one instance.
Wetting agents are very different from lawn fertilizer, and present no such risks of lawn damage.
Having said that, we don't want to be applying them too frequently because once they've done their job, theres nothing more that can be done to aid in water flow past this state, so all we're really doing is wasting our money, which is being flushed right down into the water table, just like when we apply too much water to the lawn.
The same can be said for applying excess quantities of wetting agents at any one time. It’s simply a waste and cannot be used by the soil. It’s a waste of money and resources.
Measure the lawn and follow manufacturers recommendations for the application of wetting agents. They can be applied with a fertilizer spreader or by hand, and If need be then apply them a little more often, or at a slightly greater quantity without concern, just be moderate and don't go overboard and we'll get the greatest possible results with the least amount of expense from these wonderful lawn care products.