Choosing the best soil to reduce water usage in your garden

Which soil is best for your garden

Reduce water usage in your garden by using the right soil

Different soils vary greatly in both nutritional properties and water holding capacity.

Depending on the type of garden plants and their nutritional needs determines the type of soil needed so they can thrive.

Soils vary from the thick clay, mountains soil, soil with a lot of organic matter, free draining sandy loam soil through to a sand or silt.

The choice of soil depends greatly on the area in which you live and the plants you grow.

What is the best soil for both improved water holding capacity and nutrients to feed the plants?

The best soil choice is usually a good sandy loam soil as it has a mixture of a certain amount of free draining properties, nutritional properties and have some water holding capacity for drier climates.

Below is a description of different soils, their properties with pros and cons in reducing water usage in your garden.

About Clay Soil

Clay soils play a very important role in some areas such as the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria.

Clay soil is very thick in texture. It can attract important nutrients to specific plants and holds a lot of water.

Clay soil can water log the roots of plants and in dry weather the clay soil can become very hard and compacted for plants to thrive.

It is not suitable for the general garden in the Casey or Frankston area.

Clay Soil

About Organic or Blended Soil

Blended soil contains organic plant material and other nutrients such as chook manure and sawdust shavings.

The plant matter makes for a slightly lighter and fluffier consistency and the organic matter provides nutritional value and water holding capacity which can save on water usage.

It can be rich in nutrients and is a popular choice for vegetable gardens.

Generally it is not recommended for Australian native gardens as the manures can be too strong for the phosphorus sensitive roots of native plants.

Although this soil contains natural organic ingredients, it is not a certified Organic product.

Superblend top soil with organic matter

About Sandy Loam Top Soil or Screened top soil

Our Sandy Loam soil is also called Screened top soil.

It is a screened sandy soil which improves moisture retention and therefore minimises compaction.

Sandy loam top soil is the preferred soil for Lawns and general garden beds for gardens in the Cranbourne Casey area.

Sandy Loam Screened top soil

About Turf Sand

Turf sand is excellent for top dressing existing lawns.  It needs to be lighter free draining sandy soil which has limited water holding capacity.

Turf sand or soil for top dressing

About Tailings

Tailings are unscreened soil which falls to the side during the screening process.

It is a lumpy soil so it may contain other products which have not been removed in the screening process.

It is used as filing areas and is not recommended as a top soil.

About Unscreened soil or Fill

Completely unscreened soil which is not recommended as top soil may contain items and may be dangerous to walk on.

In summary:

The Sandy Loam screened top soil and the organic blended soil are the two soils which have nutritional value, a balance of good drainage in wet weather and water holding capacity for drier climates. These soils are perfect for your front or back yard.

How to lay pavers using crushed stone dust instead of sand

how to lay pavers on crushed rock
  1. Good preparation of a site is important before laying pavers and there are a few options to go with.
  2. A firm base of crushed rock with a layer of crusher dust or stone dust.
  3. Blue Stone Dust or Gold Dust are a great alternative to concrete sand for laying pavers.
  4. To lay pavers, dig out your area, make a firm base, top with crushed dust or sand, use a string line and rubber mallet, lay your pavers carefully.                                          See the instructions below.

How to lay pavers:

Lay pavers using crushed stone dust as an alternative to sand.

Dig out your area

Form a solid foundation by digging out and leveling off the area you are going to pave.

Make a firm base

Leave enough depth for a generous layer amount of 20mm B grade crushed rock.   The crushed rock will stabilise the ground and stop the pavers from sinking.

Use a compactor to make sure this sub base pacts firmly.

compact the base before paving

Top with Crusher Dust

Add a finer layer of Blue Stone crushed dust and level off with a screed.

The pavers will be placed on top of this layer of crushed dust.

A layer of Stone dust is used here instead on concrete sand.

Use a String Line

A string line will help you to place your pavers in the right location.

use stringline for paving

Lay the pavers

Once the base is firm and level, the pavers can then be laid.

Lay the pavers one at a time, using a string line to keep them straight.

Using a rubber hammer or mallet to knock the pavers down into place.

This will ensure the surface is level and smooth to walk on.

Use a rubber mallet

There are many ways to lay pavers and this is just one very popular option.

Well laid pavers can endure the test of time and look their best for many years to come.

Kennedy’s Cranbourne deliver landscape supplies to the areas of Botanic Ridge, Clyde, Langwarrin and surrounding suburbs.

Find our full range of pavers here:


How to use soil conditioners

planting in quality soil

Soil conditioners are added to the soil to improve the effectiveness.  There are a wide variety of soil conditioners which perform different functions.  Some soil conditioners can sweeten acid soils while others break up clay-based soils to improve soil structure.

What are soil conditioners

Soil conditioners improve nutrient levels, water retention and soil structure.  A wide variety of soil conditioners include products such as Lime, Dolomite Gypsum, Blood & Bone and Compost just to name a few.  Each has a different function and can be used in a number of ways.


Lime is a naturally occurring mineral used to sweeten sour or acidic soils.  It helps to provide calcium to the plant roots, which is an essential nutrient and raises the PH and assists in releasing nutrients trapped by the acid soil.

Lime is great for use when growing beans, peas, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, sweet peas and tomatoes. Work 125 grams per square metre into soil before planting.  For lawns, Spread evenly 125 grams per square metre and water in well.

Do not add lime if you are planting acid loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias or magnolias.  Some natives are also not suitable to be treated with Lime.

conditioning soil with lime


Natural Gypsum is used for breaking up heavy clay soils that cake or crust therefore improving drainage and aeration.  It can be used twice a year and regular use will improve the structure of the soil.  Gypsum is not acid or alkaline so will not affect the natural PH of the soil in any way.

Gypsum can be used on lawns in Spring and Summer. Spread 125 grams per square metre, rake in and water well.  The lawn may initially turn yellow but this will disappear with watering and feeding.

For new garden beds, apply 1kg per square metre and work into the soil before planting.  Gypsum can be applied to the top 20 cm of established garden beds.

Blood & Bone

Blood and Bone is both a fertiliser and a soil conditioner and improves soil drainage, aeration and water retention.  It is a pure source of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Spread 50grams per metre prior to planting flowers and vegetables. Blood & Bone is also beneficial for Fruit and Citrus trees, roses and lawns.  Apply 100 grams per square metre to lawns in August and March. Rake and water in immediately after application.


Dolomite raises the PH and assist releasing Calcium and Magnesium trapped by the acidic soil.  It can be used in garden beds and lawns. Spread 250 grams of dolomite per square metre in garden beds and work into the top 7 cm of soil.  Add 125 grams per square metre to lawns and water well every second year.

Do not use Dolomite on acid loving plants such as Azaleas, Camellias or Magnolias or some Australian native plants.


Composts are soil conditioners and can be mixed in to the soil to improve soil structure and nutrients.  Compost encourage microbial activity which benefits the health of the soil and improves its water holding capacity.

Are all soils or composts the same?

Are soils the same

We are often asked the question “Which soil is best for my garden?” or, “Does compost need to be added to the garden soil?”  The answer to this depends on the type of garden or lawn which is planted.  Some soils are best used in certain types of garden beds.

Which soils are the best to use?

The best soils are lightweight, fluffy and aerated. Trees need  sandy loam soil for increased root growth.  Native plants & lawns also benefit from sandy loam soil.  Vegetables and flowers prefer a nutrient soil with more structure and water holding capacity.


Prepare fresh lawns and instant turf with a screened  sandy loam top soil to ensure establishment of the lawns roots.

garden soil in hands

Vegetable Gardens and Flower Beds

Vegetables and flowers benefit from soil with added structure and nutrients.   Super blend top soil contains added aged fowl manure and has more water holding capacity.   There are many other types of composts which can also be added to garden soil.   Mushroom Compost, Revive compost or Diggers Compost are just a few.

Australian Native plants

Free draining Sandy Loam soil is best for Australian Native Plants.  Australian natives benefit from a lower nutrient, free draining soil as too much nitrogen can damage the sensitive root system of Australian natives.


Composts are soil conditioners and encourage microbial activity.  Smaller quantities can be made at home using kitchen scraps, fresh and dry garden waste.

Bulk composts come from different industries such as the mushroom farms, the dairy industry and gardening industry.

Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost comes from the mushroom growing industry and is mixed with straw and other growing mediums for mushrooms.  It can give plants like roses a real boost in spring.            Mix mushroom compost into the soil for a naturally nutritious lift.

Revive Compost

Revive compost Comes from the dairy industry.  This compost can be mixed into the soil for added structure and nourishment.

Diggers Compost

Diggers compost is a dark organic garden soil conditioner.  This compost is made from garden trimmings including leaves and branches.   It is composted using a controlled batching composting technique.   As a soil enhancer, It can be added to all soil types from sandy loam to clay.   It has proven to be a very popular compost for vegetable gardens and flower beds.


How to Spend more time in Nature while staying at home

As we are spending more time at home indoors, its never been more important to connect with nature.

There are many ways to connect with nature both inside our home and in our garden.

Health benefits of nature

Improved sleep & relaxation therefore lowering stress levels and improved immunity are common benefits of spending time in nature.

Here are a few simple ideas to increasing your exposure to nature and making the most of time at home.

outdoor yoga in nature

Outdoor workouts

Activities such as  yoga, meditation and simple stretching can be done outside on the lush green lawn.  

With so many gyms closed, outdoors is great place to continue the activities.

Finding green spaces with fresh air can benefit the mind, body and soul.

outdoor yoga in nature


Planting vegetable gardens have become very popular throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Weather your potting up indoor plants, or planting a tree, getting your hands in the earth, gardening can be a satisfying activity

For many people gardening is a relaxing pastime. It can soothe away stress built up over the day.

Decorating a patio

Prepare your patio with relaxing chairs, BBQ and potted plants. Create an outdoor retreat to bask on warm sunny days.

A tropical atmosphere can be created with large leafed plants in pots, relaxing day beds or chairs and even a hammock if there is room.

A thoughtfully decorated outdoor space can give you that resort style feel which calms the senses. Step outside into this space and enjoy anytime at home.


When ever your on the grass, slip off your shoes and feel the cool grass and the earths natural energy underneath your bare feet. The simple act of Earthing, helps us lower our stress levels, improve sleep. 

themed garden surrounded by nature

Design a themed garden

Weather it be an Australian native garden to encourage birds, a tropical garden or a drought tolerant garden, choose a design that would encourage you out to spend time in. 

As we are spending more time at home and traveling less, your preferred resort styled garden in which you would enjoy spending your stay-cation to relax and unwind.

Indoor Plants

If outdoor space is limited, bring the benefits of the garden indoors. There are so many choices of beautiful and hardy indoor plants. The benefits of fresher air, a soothing environment, and beautifying the decor, indoor plants have some serious health benefits for us.

A well designed garden ensures we get the physical and emotional benefits from nature.


Making your own Garden Compost

Making your own compost.

Getting outside and growing clean vegetable and plants is increasingly important as we care for our own health and vitality.

Compost increases the water holding capacity to the soil, adds nutrients and improves soil structure.

Home made Compost is a long-held tradition for many gardeners and is an essential component to the health of the soil we grow plants in.

Ingredients for making compost

Add one part of dry or brown ingredients to one part of fresh or green ingredients.                                                  

If  compost pile is smelly, use more dry or brown ingredients.  Keep moist, not water logged.


adding fresh ingredients to compost

Fresh compost ingredients

Add fruit or vegetable peelings and small chopped plant clippings to the compost.

Fresh ingredients add nitrogen to the pile.

Smaller pieces are easier and faster to compost.

Dry compost ingredients

Dry or brown ingredients add carbon to the compost and help to aerate the pile.

Add dry leaves, shredded paper, cardboard, straw and egg cartons.

Dry ingredients add carbon to the pile.

Use Equal parts dry ingredients to fresh ingredients.

Sprinkle with water to moisten the dry ingredients to speed up the composting process.

Add Manure compost

Blood & bone, aged chicken, sheep or cow manures are beneficial to the compost pile as they are rich in nitrogen.

Nitrogen is beneficial for the health of the compost and plant growth.

Manures help to heat up the pile, speeding up the composting process


Coffee grounds added to your compost or soil makes a great slow release fertilizer.

Tea leaves can also be added.

tips for making compost

Tips for making compost

It is best to have a couple of compost bins on the go.  One bin for filling while the other is full and composting.

Position the compost bins in a shady spot with direct contact with the soil.

Keep the compost moist but not water logged. If the pile is too wet, add more brown ingredients.

A commercial aerator will help to keep the ph. correct. A hand full of Lime once a month can be added.

The compost process takes around 8 – 10 weeks in warm weather

Making your own garden compost is a rewarding activity.

For those who do not want to wait, there are commercial composts on the market such as Mushroom compost, Diggers Compost, Revive or a blended soil with compost added.

Which ever way you go, enjoy seeing your soil and plant health improve throughout the growing season.

Outdoor Eco-friendly Cleaning Solutions for the Garden

Eco friendly outdoor cleaning

Effective and safe eco-friendly cleaning products are fast becoming mainstream as we move away from using too many toxic chemicals in our house and garden.

Looking out for the health of our pets, the environment and our family has fast become a priority for many of us.

Why use eco-friendly cleaning products?

Eco-friendly or green cleaning solutions can be as effective than more toxic products. Moving away from the many toxic products which is ultimately better for our health and the environment we live in.

What ingredients to use for eco-friendly outdoor cleaning?

A few ingredients for safe, green eco-friendly cleaning products are baking soda, vinegar and ammonia. These ingredients can be easily found in the home to make recipes for cleaning bird droppings, bricks, decking or outdoor furniture.  Some fast acting cleaning recipes are below.

1: Clean bird droppings

Bird droppings can be quickly removed by pouring full strength Apple Cider Vinegar onto a cloth before wiping clean.

2: Cleaning bricks

To remove calcium on brick or limestone, spray a blend of 1/2 white distilled vinegar and 1/2 water. Let the mixture set and do its work.

safe eco friendly cleaning of decking

3: Clean decking

Remove mildew from outdoor decking by adding 1 cup of ammonia, 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda to 4 liters of water.  Scrub with a decking brush then rinse with water when clean.

4: Clean wooden garden furniture

Use the deck cleaning recipe with a soft sponge to apply mixture. Rinse the furniture with water when clean.

eco-friendly cleaning of outdoor plastic furniture

5: Plastic furniture

Remove dirt build up and mildew on plastic furniture by spraying full strength white vinegar and wipe down with a sponge.  The vinegar will also help to prevent mildew reappearing for a while.

These eco-friendly cleaning solutions are both effective and simple recipes to make.  If making up your own solutions are not your thing, there are now a good choice of quality commercial eco-friendly cleaning products readily found on the retail shelves.



Managing drainage in a flooded yard

rain water flooding the backyard

Excessive rain over the wet season can often make if difficult for water to drain away at the usual pace.  To save your landscaped garden from erosion, it is important to improve the drainage problems in your yard.  The severity of flooding determines which drainage solution to use.

For superficial drainage, a spoon drain is best to direct the flow of water away from the rain soaked areas.  Installation of agricultural pipes like the 90 mm slotted agi pipe or the flexible agflow pipes are better for water which has soaked into the ground.

Managing drainage for a flooded yard can be done using either a spoon drain for surface water or using a 90 mm slotted PVC pipe or Ag flow with or without a geo-fabric sock to keep the drain free of dirt and silt.

What is a spoon drain?

A spoon drain is a shallow spoon shaped channel which redirects excessive water sitting on the grounds surface. It is the easiest drainage solution to redirect surface water.

Drainage in paving and concrete

Hard surfaces in outdoor areas such as paving and concrete need to have a fall to allow for water runoff.  Adding a reln channel and grate is a designer solution that covers the drains which blend into the paving or concrete areas.

The channel is connected to the storm water system which allows water to flow out to street gutters or drains.

drainage solutions with paving
drainage solutions with paving

What is agi pipe used for?

An agi pipe is a slotted PVC pipe which is placed into a trench and back filled with 10 mm or 20 mm gravel, drainage scoria or sand.  Excess water that has soaked into the ground, seeps into the trench, through the rocks and is drained away through the slotted PVC pipe.  The flexible agflo pipes are also a good choice for drainage. Sometimes the Agflo is covered with a Geo fabric sock that keeps the dirt and silt out of the pipe.

What to know about agricultural pipes

Agricultural pipes need to be able to flow away downhill and installed to the direction of water-flow.  The pipe needs to be kept at least 1 metre away from the house and you should never run slotted pope drains under the house as this may cause damage.

Water drainage in grass
Water drainage in grass

Drainage in retaining walls

When constructing retaining walls, the installation of groundwater drainage is recommended using agi pipe.  This will help to prevent damage to the wall and formation of sinkholes in the soil above.  Geo-textile filter fabrics need to be installed with the drainage system to prevent soil erosion.

Improving drainage problems in your yard will save your yard and your landscaped garden from erosion.

For responsible water disposal, water must be directed to a disposal point acceptable to your neighborhood and your council.

Remember, If in doubt, always seek advice or services of a registered plumber.

drainage solutions
drainage solutions

Which garden tools do I need?

wheelbarrow with garden tools

With so many different types of garden tools available, choosing the tools which will be the most used and necessary to set up your garden tool shed can be a difficult decision.

Essential garden tools

There are a few garden tools which are essential for any gardener to start their collection. The tools to begin with are a shovel, spade, wheelbarrow, hoe, fork, rake and garden secateurs.  Quality garden tools are a must which, in the long term will save you time, money and help to ensure your time in the garden is most enjoyable.


A spade is not used for digging and is different to a shovel.  Generally the spade has a larger scoop and is used for moving a pile of mulch, soil and other bulk products. A spade with a very sharp edge can also be used for edging lawn. Stainless steel spades are lighter and easier to use than fully forged steel spades.  A small hand sized spade is also very useful for digging and planting small flowers, veges and shrubs.


A shovel blade is typically curved and usually angled forward for digging where the spade blade is not.  The shovel generally has a long straight handle for digging holes which allows for more leverage needed.


A wheelbarrow is one of the most useful items for carrying tools, garden products and other items around. This makes the garden jobs much easier and saves your back.  Make sure your wheelbarrow is sturdy with a solid bucket and wheels are large enough to hold your tools.

Essential backyard tools
Essential backyard tools


Choose which garden rake to the job you are doing.  A heavy-duty landscapers rake is used for larger landscaping projects such as leveling soil, driveways and heavier product.  A light weight rake is generally only used for raking things such as leaves and grass.


A fork is for cultivating the ground in areas like a vege patch.  A potato fork is a wider fork with more prongs to fork for potatoes and other root vegetables.

Garden Secateurs

Garden secateurs are also called pruning shears and need to feel comfortable in your hand when in use.  Good garden secateurs need to be strong enough to prune shrubs and hard branches up to two centimetres.  It is important that they have a high-quality blade which keeps a sharp edge.

Stocking your garden shed with just a few of the most useful tools will go a long way when its time to get out for planting, pruning and building your next garden bed.

Which garden tools do I need
Which garden tools do I need

Re-potting outdoor plants using potting mix

repotting outdoor plants using potting mix

Re-potting outdoor pot plants is important for the continuation of growth and health of the
plant. Using the right container and the best potting mix will save on future maintenance
issues, giving the plants a better environment for growth.

There is a little more to it than just grabbing a larger pot and some old potting mix from the shed.
A well cleaned pot and a quality potting mix will make all the difference.
The most common questions we hear regarding potting mixes are: “Aren’t all potting mixes
the same?” or “Does it matter which potting mix to use?”

How outdoor plants respond to re-potting depends on both the choice of pot and the
quality of the potting mix.
Although potting mixes may look the same, the ingredients inside the bag can be very
different. Depending on what type of plants you are planting, and their requirements in soil
structure and nutrients, a suitable potting mix will be required.  For most outdoor plants, a
high-quality premium mix is recommended.

Potting mix for outdoor plants

Quality potting mixes comply with the Australian Standard requirements of AS 3743
for a Premium grade potting mix.
Certified Australian Standard potting mixes have all been tested and approved for the following specifications:

  •  Water holding capacity of the potting mix
  •  How well the mix drains
  •  Water absorption
  •  The nutrient levels
  •  Ph levels

Premium potting mix

It is important that the potting mix is certified to the AS 373 Australian Standard and contain
the red ticks of approval.
A certified Premium potting mix contains slow release fertilizer and a re-wetting agent. This
potting mix lasts longer than a general-purpose mix, therefore needs less maintenance. This mix can be used for most plants except specialty plants such as orchids or azaleas.

Specialty plants

A specialty potting mix should be used for certain plants which require specific needs from
their mix. These specialty mixes are specific for Camellia or Azalea, Orchids, seed
germination and bulbs such as the African Violet.

repotting outdoor plants
re potting outdoor plants

How to re-pot your plants

  1.  Make sure the plant is well watered up to one day beforehand
  2.  The cleaned replacement pot needs to be between 5 to 7cm wider than the old pot.
  3.  Fill a third of the pot with potting mix.
  4.  Gently remove the plant from the old pot by tipping it upside down and tapping the
  5.  Place the plant in the new pot and fill the pot with potting mix.
  6.  Water generously and add extra potting mix if necessary.
  7.  Place the freshly potted plant in its optimum position.
  8.  Water plants when required.
  9.  After 3 to 4months, a slow release fertiliser may be required.

With a little bit of TLC, using the right ingredients, your outdoor potted plants will look their
best throughout the year.