Use your lawn to harvest water

Use your lawn to harvest water

By Bob Dailey

With water prices rising, and the conservation of drinking water encouraged, new findings have discovered ways to save water, cut water bills, and save money on lawn care. How?  Make the lawn its own water harvesting device.

According to studies completed by Texas A&M, Michigan State University and Rodale Institute, adding organic matter to soil significantly increases its water-holding capacity. Scientists report that for every one percent of organic matter, a cubic foot of soil can hold roughly 1.5 quarts of water. A two percent increase allows that same soil to increase the volume of water to three quarts.  

The math is easy. If soil is made up of two percent organic matter, a 4,000 square foot lawn (about the average lawn size in The Woodlands) can hold at least 3,000 gallons of water. Residents and commercial establishments alike can use a simple and relatively inexpensive method to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil in turf grass areas.

The easiest and most inexpensive way of adding organic material to your lawn is simply to spread compost on it. Half to three-quarters of an inch of compost added on top of turf twice a year will work itself down into the soil.

In addition to providing abundant storage of water, organic material aids in preventing soil erosion, enhances drainage and irrigation and helps grass extract nutrients from the soil. Organic material also supplies additional nutrients to the soil as it decays, stabilizes the pH of the soil, and acts as a food source for beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

Finally, good water holding capacity of soil helps grass roots to grow deeply into the soil, keeping them healthy and strong and resistant to diseases. Strong healthy plants help minimize weeds and in many cases, eliminate them altogether, negating the use of herbicides.

For information on where to obtain good organic compost locally, residents can visit the following website: Organic composters in the Houston area or attend a composting class sponsored by The Woodlands Township and the Montgomery County Master Gardeners Association.