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Old 11-22-2013, 09:40 PM
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Jallal Jallal is offline
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Hydrophobic flower bed

Hello all, it's been raining for the past two days here, so when I dug into a flower bed to loosen up the soil today to replace some flowers that had dried up, I was shocked to see that the soil below 2" was dry, which would certainly explain why the flowers have been dying in this spot. This has been a trouble spot at this account & I've been attributing it to improper irrigation coverage but this has me thinking otherwise.

The bed is beside a concrete sidewalk, has a boxwood hedge right beside it which has likely been in place for at least 10 years, the roots are pretty thick, has Indian hawthorns behind that, a couple robellinis, & crape myrtles.

Your thoughts as to the potential causes of the hydrophobia? My gut instinct is that the boxwood roots are the culprit.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:35 AM
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Jallal Jallal is offline
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Nobody has any insight?
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Old 11-25-2013, 02:11 PM
44DCNF 44DCNF is offline
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Near a fence, wood or cement board siding, or were the concrete or stone/brick walks around the area sealed recently? Maybe some sealer ran off into the soil or was oversprayed onto it? That's all I could think of right off.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:10 AM
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Jallal Jallal is offline
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No sealing that I'm aware of, DCNF.
FG, that's a nice quoting job you did.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:43 AM
Smallaxe Smallaxe is offline
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There are a number of things that are hydrophobic/repellant... The best thing to do is stir up the soil and soak it up today, then again tomorrow...
Often times what happens is that the soil is allowed to dry than acts like Spagnum Moss does, until it gets soaked up again... keep and eye on the soil is a good rule of thumb...
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Now that I know that clay's texture(platelets) has nothing to do with water infiltration, percolation, or drainage
,,, I wonder what does...
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:31 AM
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Jallal Jallal is offline
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Hydrophobic flower bed

There's a sprinkler that runs daily at this location, which is another reason I'm a little puzzled.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:14 PM
44DCNF 44DCNF is offline
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Surface water could still run off if a there's a high peat content, added with other factors like compaction, maybe density of roots as you say, etc. Coir and peat can take a while to absorb and do repel water at the onset. I use both heavily in house plants and I can easily overfill a pot to overflow if time is not allowed for absorption, and when I have not turned the surface soil occassionally. Do you turn the surface soil in these beds annually or more? I imagine the condition would be worsened if the customers soil below the surface were high in silt, clay, or compacted. Some things I've done that seems to help is add D/E or something similar to the soil (absoprtive/adsorptive). You might try that, or activated carbon, zeolite, perlite, vermiculite.
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:32 PM
Smallaxe Smallaxe is offline
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Daily watering is actually one of the issues that cause repellent surfaces... Soil structure that enables infiltration is hindered by all water, no air, right at the surface...
Flowerbeds need to be worked up, soaked, allowed to dry, then soaked again, throughout the growing season... Obviously using good sense as to the meaning of the word "dry" is something to keep in mind...

I call the process, 'conditioning the soil'...
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Now that I know that clay's texture(platelets) has nothing to do with water infiltration, percolation, or drainage
,,, I wonder what does...
*
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Old 11-29-2013, 04:20 PM
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Jallal Jallal is offline
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Yeah, this bed is turned twice annually, at a minimum. It's fairly high in clay but the constant rotation of the bedding plants adds decent soil to the mix. The previous guys didn't really make an effort, as it was far down their list of priorities. I did add some of the gimmicky water retaining crystals (baby diaper stuffing) to the soil in hopes that it will help alleviate the problem.
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Old 11-29-2013, 08:09 PM
windflower windflower is online now
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I've seen a white fungus in the soil that repels water.
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