Soil Composition And Watering Needs
There are 3 different types of soils common to the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine areas, Clay, Sand, and Loam.
Each soil type has its own properties and reacts differently to being given the same amount of water. An inch of water applied to sandy soil will water deeper and remain in the top 12 inches of the soil where it can be accessed by the majority of plant roots in our area for a much shorter amount of time than that same inch of water applied to soils with a heavy clay composition.
Following are 3 descriptions of the different types of soils and how they affect your need to water the root systems of the plants growing there. Hopefully this will help you figure out what type of soil you have to determine the specific watering needs for your North Florida landscape.
1. Clay Soils–
Clay soils are made up of particles that stick together well and also hold on to water very well.
To help determine if your soil is made up of mostly clay, you take a handful of soil and squeeze it together. Once squeezed, open up your fingers and observe whether or not the soil is still in a ball. The more clay it has, the less brittle and more solid it will look.
Water is absorbed slowly into clay soil, the clay in soils holds onto water that is absorbed for a longer time than would sandy or loamy soil, thus reducing the frequency of water needed to add moisture to the soil for plant roots.
2. Sandy Soils–
Sandy soils are comprised of less dense soil and sand particles. Sand also has worse water holding properties than clay, water passes right through it.
To determine how much sand is in your soil, take a handful of the soil and squeeze it together. If the clump of soil falls apart, then your soil is more sandy. Unlike clay, sandy soil shouldn’t hold together well and should break apart in your hand.
Water can pass through sand quickly, but sandy soils also can also dry out quickly after a watering. So, as a rule, sandy soils require more frequent watering, but it usually takes less water to reach the depth of 6-8 inches required to properly water your new grass sod lawn.
3. Loam Soils –
Loam is a combination of the clay and sandy soils. Most yards will have some sort of this combination of soils in them.
When you do the same squeeze test as described before, loam will be somewhere between the solid ball of clay and the sand that falls apart easily. A good loam combination could have the water retaining properties of clay and the faster water penetration of the sandy soil.
How Much Water will your new sod need?
Soil composition isn’t the only thing that can effect your sods need for water. Environmental factors such as sun exposure, recent rainfall rates, wind conditions and even the slope of the land are all pieces of the puzzle that we need to fit together to determine how and when to water our lawns.
Follow these tips on watering needs of sod and remember to check your soil each day in the first few weeks as you begin to understand how your soil affects your watering needs of your new lawn grass sod.