Lawn Care Tips

Saving Water and Growing a Great Looking Lawn

Mark Leonard

Your lawns ever increasing need for more water may be a sign of poor soil conditions. One way to use less water in maintaining lawn areas is by improving the water holding capacity of the soil.

The water holding capacity of soils is influenced by soil texture and the amount of organic matter present in the soil itself. Here in Colorado we primarily have sandy or heavy clay soils. Water will either drain through too fast or run right off the surface. Soils composed of small particles such as clay, have larger surface areas than soils with larger particles such as sand. Large surface area soils will hold more water. In sandy soils water will often drain away too quickly before plants can begin to use it. Clay soils can bind up water so tightly it is unrecoverable by the plant.

The addition of organic matter such as compost will improve the physical properties of the existing soil. Organic matter will greatly enhance the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil. It will aid in water infiltration and drainage; enabling water to travel to the plants root zone where it can be utilized more efficiently. The amount of organic matter present in the soil will determine its water holding capacity. The best and easiest way to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil is by adding compost Just a 1% increase of compost in the soil can dramatically increase it’s ability to hold water.

Compost is high in humus as a result of decomposition of organic matter. Humas will improve the properties of soil and thus it’s ability to hold water. Water drains off very quickly in sandy soils. The addition of compost will increase its water retention ability. Water will not penetrate and travel through clay soils very easily. Adding compost will lessen compaction and increase permeability so water can become available to the plant.

The best time to add compost is before you install your new ScienTurfic lawn. Many cities are requiring minimum amounts of organic material be incorporated into the soil before installing new sod. It is recommended that 3 to 4 cubic yards of organic material per 1,000 sq ft of area be rototilled in to the existing soil prior to sod installation. Established lawn areas can be top dressed with a light layer of compost each Spring and Fall.

Adding compost to your soil will significantly improve its ability to hold water. It will also increase the amount of water reaching the root zone where it can be available when the plant needs it. This means the grass will need less water. What could be better; saving water and having a better-looking lawn at the same time.