Irrigation and soil preparation for beginners
Living in Australia means a year-round battle for water. Our capital cities are built around fresh water courses for this very reason. Your garden needs water to grow, and the best way to help it along is to lay some good groundwork before you plant.
Proper irrigation and healthy soil is the safety net for your garden. It's the foundation of a prosperous ecosystem, one that will outlast scorching heat, frigid cold and torrential rain. This guide will show you the best practices for soil and irrigation in Australian gardens.
If you need tips on installing irrigation and maintaining soil, drop in and see the team at All Green Nursery & Garden. As well as having a nursery with hundreds of plant varieties, our team can give you expert advice on how to grow stronger, healthier plants.
Testing, improving and maintaining your soil is an essential first step for any budding gardener. Getting this process right can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Before you plant
Healthy soil is the first building block of a flourishing garden. Soil feeds plants, provides stability to roots and absorbs excess water. There are several quick and easy tests that will give you an idea of your soil's health.
- Dig a small hole and search for earthworms and other organisms. The more, the healthier your soil is.
- Check the compaction and structure of your soil. Round, loose soil allows water and food to move freely.
- The vigour and root development of existing plants are good indications of health.
- Heavily water your existing plants. If they seem overly thirsty, then your soil may not be healthy.
If your soil is unhealthy, the following methods may assist in helping it get back on its feet again.
Nursing your soil
Different types of soil require different remedies, but this general process will put your garden on track to being healthier and more productive.
- Work at least 5-10cm of new organic matter into your soil, and 2.5cm every year after that.
- Mulch around your plants to provide moisture, nutrients and temperature control.
- Avoid compacting your soil with excessive tilling and walking on garden beds.
Sometimes, particularly poor soil just can't be salvaged. It might be worth digging deep and starting a new foundation, so talk to our friendly staff for advice.
Adding new soil
If you've got a particular planting regime in mind, you might consider adding a brand new blend of soil to your garden.
- When paired with quality mulch, Premium Garden Blend Soil is a good base soil to raise garden beds.
- Lawn Mix Soil is great for natives, ferns and palms that require lower nutrient content.
- Our special Veggie Garden Soil contains up to 40% organic matter, and is made onsite. It's ideal for flowering plants and vegetables.
Now that your soil is up to snuff, you can get to planting. If you are unsure about what garden supply or product to use where, talk to the team at All Green Nursery & Garden.
Once you've planted, the next important step is to provide regular flow of water to your plants. Thanks to Australia's hot, drought-prone climate, irrigation systems are a vital component in any garden.
The best thing about modern irrigation systems is that you can design your own based on the shape and size of your garden, and apply an appropriate amount of water required for the particular situation.
Try plotting your garden on a piece of paper, where one centimetre on paper equals one metre of your garden. Then measure hose lengths and where joins and components need to be.
Depending on what you're planting, there are two different methods of irrigation to consider: drip and spray.
Drip irrigation is the most efficient type of system on the market. A water line with intermittent perforations is run along a garden bed, allowing for water to gradually drip into the garden. Drip irrigation systems are ideal for flowering garden beds that do not need constant saturation.
Our Adjustable Spike Dripper allows you to easily control the flow rate and direction of your irrigation system.
Spray sprinklers are the classic method of watering a garden. Each spray spike covers a greater area than drip irrigation systems. Spray systems use more water than their drip counterparts, ensuring that thirsty plants are well watered at all times.
Our Spectrum 360° Spike Spray offers a free-flowing halo of water around the spike.
Once you've chosen your method of irrigation, you will need a few common items to get started:
- Poly fittings like cross and elbow joints direct lines around your garden.
- Joiners and ratchet clips connect lengths of hose together.
- Directors connect hoses to other irrigation fittings.
- Clamps secure lines to stakes, fences and other landmarks around the garden.
- Risers keep your irrigation lines off the ground, ensuring that taller plants receive water as well.
- Valves act as regulators, controlling the flow of water with a simple twist.
- Filters stop the flow of harmful contaminants through your irrigation system.