Wetting Agent for lawns

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Wetting Agents! Whaaat – Do they really work?

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The UK climate is definitely changing! Winters are often colder and now Summers are having super long dry spells. Particularly in the South.

With warmer Summers, comes drier weather. With drier weather comes browner lawns.

Most professionals suggest that if you apply a wetting agent you can stop the lawn from drying out too much.

So, is that really true and if so what’s the best product to use and when?

If you want to know, then this is the article for you?

In this post I’m going to address the different types of wetting agents available on the market and explain where in your lawn care plan you can use them to maximum affect.

First, let’s address an important question:

What actually are they and what do they do?

In short, wetting agents help soil to absorb and retain water. That’s it.

Wetting agents are a type of surfactant that can be added to soil to improve its ability to absorb and retain water. Essentially, meaning the water will work its way down to the roots of the plant much, much more easily.

These agents work by reducing the surface tension of the soil be, thus allowing water to spread more easily and evenly throughout the soil. This can be especially beneficial in soils that are naturally hydrophobic, i.e. resistant to water absorption. In english, no offence, that’s very dense clay soils that harden up when the weather is dry.

So that’s the techie bit over, let’s get to the important stuff.

Do wetting agents really work?

You know the saying, “every little helps”. Well that’s true when we talk about wetting agents and in particular drought or long dry spells.

Wetting agents can significantly help towards reducing how brown your lawn gets during a dry spell.

When you apply this type of product, before, during or after a drought your lawn will look less dry and you’ll need less water to keep it green. Any sections that do dry out will bounce back almost immediately when the rain comes back.

Everyone’s a winner.

What’s more, you won’t need to water it as much, so if there’s a hose pipe ban in your area, you can have your smug face on because you’ll probably have the greenest lawn on the street!

Remember though, wetting agents don’t simply replace water. They specifically help any water that does hit the grass to be absorbed by the soil.

So in summary a wetting agent will:

  • Prevents localised dry patches (LDP)
  • Moves moisture down deeper into the root zone
  • Helps significantly towards stress relief
  • Reduces vital plant count loss

Now you know they work, let’s look at which types are available for buying and which might be best for you to use on your lawn at home.

Different types of wetting agent

There are three main types of wetting agents for you to choose from.

  1. Granular form, which is applied straight onto the grass
  2. Liquid form, which is mixed with water before being sprayed onto the sward.
  3. 100% Organic liquid form

Of course, the most important difference is how you’ll apply them – more on this below.

1st Type: Granular Wetting Agents

Granular wetting agents are typically made from a combination of ingredients that include a surfactant, a carrier, and other components that help to stabilise and distribute the product. The surfactant is the active ingredient that reduces the surface tension of water, while the carrier is a substance that helps to hold the surfactant in place and distribute it evenly throughout the soil.

Some say that granular forms are slightly more effective when it comes to drought because they last longer. However, they also take slightly longer to take effect because they will sit on the surface and won’t activate until the rain returns.

As with most granular products, it’s easy to apply and the application rate is very easy to follow – slightly easier than the liquid form.

Application rate of granular products:

Apply every 3 months at a rate of 20g per m2.

2nd Type: Liquid Wetting Agents

Liquid wetting agents need to be mixed with water before they’re applied. I personally prefer using liquid products because it’s easier to be more precise with where to spray it. Especially if you’re using a knapsack sprayer or hand held sprayer.

Also, if you know which areas suffer the most from drought and are more likely to go brown in hot weather, you can spray a bit more solution in that area.

Another benefit of using the liquid type is that it gets absorbed by the soil as soon as it’s applied. Thereby giving you pretty much immediate results – especially if you water the lawn straight after application.

If you’re thinking of doing a liquid feed during the Summer, then a wetting agent will work really well alongside it.

One of the challenges with liquid products can be the confusion around application rates, let’s take a look.

Application rate of liquid products:

Apply Monthly:

3ml liquid solution mixed with 100ml of water per metre squared. That’s 30ml mixed with 1,000ml of water to cover 10m2.

3rd Type: Organic Alternatives

There is indeed an organic alternative to synthetic surfactants. It comes in the form of a bio-stimulant and needs to be mixed with water before being applied.

The best part, it’s 100% pet friendly and can be used where kids, dogs or cats roam around. It also won’t affect the biodiversity of the soil like some granular products can do.

Application rate of organic liquid product:

Apply every 2 months at 2ml per m2 mixed with 500ml of water per m2+

When is best to apply it as part of a full care programme?

The good news is, you can use lawn wetting agents alongside nearly all other lawn care products. Meaning you don’t need to wait any specific amount of time between feeding, seeding or even other liquid feeds.

It’s perfectly viable to use any of the products mentioned above alongside your liquid and granular fertilisers. Whether that’s during an overseed or even your Spring Summer Fertiliser, you’re fine to go ahead.

Alternatives to wetting agents

Granular Nitrogen Fertiliser

A granular fertiliser will definitely be better than nothing. If you apply our Signature Spring & Summer Lawn feed and your grass does dry out during a dry spell, then it will bounce back immediately after the rain returns.

Go deeper with your Aerating (+use hollow tines)

If you want water and oxygen to get down to the root system and don’t want to fork out another £20 for another product, then simply do a bit more aerating. Extra aeration can take time but you can pick up a manual aeration tool for as little as £20.

What causes hydrophobic soil and can it be prevented

As stated above, hydrophobic soil means that water will struggle to or simply not penetrate the ground at all. Meaning when there is only a small amount of rain, the roots of the grass plant will be starved of its number one necessity – water.

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