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Best compost for retaining moisture around bedding and perinnial plants

TerrysWorldTerrysWorld South MonmouthshirePosts: 129
My rear garden is from a north facing rear of house.

So the base of the garden is in the sun for some 12hrs of the day during the height of summer and the soil is clay.

Which compost would be best suited to spread amongst the plants to hold moisture.

I've tried bark chippings, but they dry out and get blown about.

I'd love to collect my leaves for mulching, but there are sycamore tree's to the rear of the garden on council land which is a constant menace in the autumn around the garden, house roof/guttering for a month or so.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 80,516
    I wouldn’t use bought compost for mulching …  when we run out of our homemade garden compost I mulch with bags of Soil Conditioner … it’s great for adding moisture retentive properties to light soils and fantastic at improving clay. 

    Mulch with it and let the worms take it down into the soil. 

    Other brands are available … all seem just as good to me. It can pong a bit at first but that’s gone in a day or so. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I'd opt for rotted manure too. It also benefits the soil as it breaks down, so your clay will drain better, but in dry spells, it will help retain moisture.
    A wonder product!
    If you're able to make your own compost, that's also very useful for that purpose, as is leaf mould, which is another wonder product  ;)
    To be honest - bark isn't the best material for annuals, and many perennials, especially the big chunky stuff.  When there is rain, or when you water, it can hold too much moisture against stems, so you need to be careful with applying it. Also a lovely place for slugs to hide.  Good for shrubs though.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 639
    @Dovefromabove or @Fairygirl please could I ask ( given OP comment ) --  what the problem is with sycamore leaves for mulching? Is it the risk of seeds sprouting? Are there any other "problematic" trees for this purpose or is the idea to only use perennial type leaves ( and if so can sycamore etc be used to make leaf mould or not even that?)
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I had a mature sycamore in a previous garden @Desi_in_London, and it was brilliant because of the amount of leaves for leaf mould. You wouldn't just leave them lying round plants though, especially if you live in a wetter area like I do, because it isn't great for soft growth coming through in spring. . 
    I've used various types of tree leaves for leaf mould, and all have been fine. We have mostly maple, beech, oak and birch here. If you want it to break down more quickly, you can mow them, or shred them, first. I have no suitable trees in this garden unfortunately, but there's a house down the road which has a good big fence. It's opposite the field, and there's several maples in the hedgerow. There's now a good collection of leaves on the road beside the house, up against the fence, so I'm considering taking a walk with my wheelbarrow  ;)

    The leaves don't sprout, but the seed does. If it's in grass, the mowing keeps them from being problematic. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Jac19Jac19 Worthing, South Coast of EnglandPosts: 496
    edited September 2021
    Farmyard manure is very good.  It decomposes and adds slow release nutrition, too.

    Over some areas I add granite chipping at the top.  They are a lovely blue grey colour.  I use it to prevent squirrels digging too because the edges are too sharp for their paws.  However, you have to remove them to add in new compost which I do at least once per season, and removing and putting them back is a chore.
  • TerrysWorldTerrysWorld South MonmouthshirePosts: 129
    The sycamore seeds are the major issue, with a wind in the right direction, they will cover the garden and fill the gutters then clog the downpipes
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 639
    edited September 2021
    Ah thanks for that @Fairygirl -- not my tree , in next door's garden ( frankly way too big for the space, totally blocks the light when in leaf,  but as it is  such a huge tree it is protected)-- but all the seeds/leaves end up in my even smaller courtyard. at least I have become better at recognising the seedlings. No lawn, but perhaps this year try see if i can cut up the leaves and squish into a small bin bag with holes and see what shape the contents are in by this time next year -- too tiny a space to try anything speculatively on a bigger scale.

    edit to add - yes i know it is the seeds not leaves that sprout, just hard to remove them all from debris reliably!
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I did wonder @Desi_in_London - I thought you'd know it wasn't the leaves that sprout!  :D
    Yes - they can block drains and downpipes easily too, so you have to be vigilant. We were fortunate that ours was in a good location, and never affected the house. Had to be quick sometimes when collecting the leaves - miss them, and the wind whipped them off and down the road instead  ;)
    I made a leaf mould bay, but when it was full, I used black bags with holes. Worked just as well - if not better. Just make sure they don't dry out if you have drier weather over winter.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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