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Aussies Living Simply

Dry soil under citrus trees

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    I have 3 citrus trees, and while tending them the other day found the soil was really dry and water repellent. 🙁 I don’t want to dig under them as they are surface rooted, so was wondering if anyone had any ideas. Is putting a thick layer of mulch back on top, probably sugar cane mulch, going to eventually help the dryness?

    Any help please :shrug:


    Sometimes the mulch forms a moisture barrier. When the rain comes I sometimes push all the mulch back from the rootzone of the trees so the soil can soak up the water and then I rake it back before it gets dry.

    You can make the soil immediately absorbant by adding a dribble of dish or laundry detergent (enough to form a soft froth) to a watering can and slowly watering it in under the citrus trees. Then they’ll take a deeper watering.


    you can sprinkle a wetting agent over the soil and gradually wet the area little by little until it starts to penetrate. there in no point in doing big drinks as the water will just run away, but re wet it little bit every half hour for a few hour until it starts soaking in, then apply compost as a mulch and soak that too.

    maybe aerate the area with a fork, punch small holes to allow the water to penetrate.


    Yeah I’d near try a combo of everything.. Break it up .. apply some wetting agent.. give a good feed, apply some straw after a week or two of slow watering.. I’d put a good layer (1 – 2 inches ) of small rocks (road gravel/ pea gravel etc) this will lock down your straw and help keep in the moisture.. It will also stop and birds / chooks etc scratching away your good top soil and exposing the roots.


    Elvin, from reading you post it seems you have no mulch at all around your trees, citrus benefit greatly from mulch and it conserves moisture in the top soil.

    As suggested above, selct a mulch that wont turn hydrophobic and extend well out past dripline.


    Had mulch round them but was well past replacing. Had to weed under the trees before replacing it then noticed the soil was seriously hydrophobic. Will get some soil wetter tomorrow, aerate gently and water, before replacing mulch.


    Yep. Citrus love mulch.

    Keep it away from the trunks of your trees though. Can put a ‘collar’ of chook wire around the trunks at soil and mulch level. Simple and effective.

    Always water before mulching and water the mulch. We use combinations of whatever we have eg. paper, leaves, grass clippings straw etc. I feel that combining stuff helps to lessen the ‘barrier’ forming that can happen with mulch.

    Good luck. :metal:


    Will get some soil wetter tomorrow

    Elvin, soil wetters are essentially detergents, so as edensgate suggested, dish or laundry detergent will do the trick at a lot lower cost than the commercial/specialist products.


    OK, so no name detergent should do the trick. Raining here today, so a good day for it :tup:


    g’day elvin,

    go with the mulch lay it on thick and keep it topped up.

    to just out beyond the drip line and about 4″s away from the trunk.



    Elvin, as you trees get more mature, say 4or 5 years, dont worry about mulching any where near the trunk as the feeder roots are well out, and I mean like meters out past the driplineYour mulch will be more benefit there and no chance of colar rot.Y

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