Root elongation is vital for plant growth. It is strongly influenced by changes in water distribution. In the context of water management, several methods have been used to improve soil water retention, such as additives in the form of superabsorbent hydrogels. However, little has been understood particularly on the direct relation of these additives to root growth. Improving the efficiency of these additives requires better understanding of water distribution in soil. Using a controlled visual setup of a 2D model system consisting of glass beads, we characterize evaporation as a function of wettability. Results suggest an optimum additive is a mixture of hydrophilic and hydrophobic components. Furthermore, experimental investigation has also been undertaken on root growth subject to various treatment conditions. Preliminary results suggest that roots respond to areas of relatively higher water content induced by an intrusion inserted in the medium as evidenced from greater root lengths in presence of the intrusion. These results are a first step to understanding root behavior under certain soil treatments and could potentially inspire techniques that will improve root growth.