Hydrophobic soil

Asked April 24, 2017, 4:59 PM EDT

I recently put in raised beds and had got a dump truck load of compost/topsoil mix for these beds from one of the local business that take in manure, trees, leaves etc to make up mixtures to resell. I am finding that even with a slow trickle of water, the water pools and will finally only soak down maybe an inch. Rain water seemed to have done a bit better but still, below 4 inches, bone powdery dry. I am in Ft Collins so not sure depending on future rain is going to solve my problem.

Thought I was doing good but now wondering if this will be a summer of not much growth. Seeing some suggestions to use a soap spray to break the tension or put sugar or even calcium on the soil. My beds are 39" x 12 ft and I have 8 of them so it is a BIG problem. Should I take a sample into CSU to see if something is way out of wack? The business claimed to have had the mixture tested earlier this spring and the ph was normal but don't know anything else about it.... except it is dryer than dry.... just like powder. thanks

Larimer County Colorado

1 Response


Did you ask what the soil is comprised of? It may have a lot of peat moss, which is difficult to water. What I would recommend is putting out a hose and sprinkler over the beds. Water until the water starts to run off and then allow it to soak in. Then consider mixing the wet soil with the dry soil and repeating this process over and over and over again. It's almost like wetting dry bagged soil in a wheelbarrow prior to use.

You can always get a soil test, but it will not tell you why the soil is dry or hydrophobic. It may be to your benefit to see what the initial nutrients, pH, salt levels and organic matter percent is.

It's just been so dry and I would guess that the business didn't cover the material in the winter or water it to prevent it from drying out. But over time it will re-wet. Just be patient.