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Reducing Water Use in Half - Newsletter

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How to Cut Your Water Use in Half

Most turf and other plant problems are related to watering techniques and issues. Most people water far too much. How often should you be watering now? I don’t know - it depends on your location, the soil, plant types, organic or synthetic program, etc. Hopefully you are organic and thus have lower water needs. Here are some other tips:

First, turn the irrigation control off automatic and on to manual. Then the system won't run unless you push the button. You’ll save lots of water, the soil will be healthier, and your landscaping will look better. This is as much a no-brainer as not catching the grass clippings in order to feed the beneficial microbes.

Water deeply and infrequently as possible so that the soil pulses or breathes. About 1" of water per week in the summer is a good starting point. Then adjust from there. Light, frequent watering of grass and other plants produces weak, shallow root systems that encourage weed invasion and does not effectively use soil nutrients and moisture. Ideally, it is best to water just before wilt begins. Early morning is usually the best time of day - late afternoon is the worst. Morning is usually the coolest part of the day and when wind is lowest, and there will be less waste through evaporation.

Go organic. The single most effective way to save water is to go organic. Healthy plants in healthy soil have healthy biodiversity of beneficial soil life that basically expand the root system to be more efficient at accessing water and nutrients.

More tips:

1. Plant adapted plants - natives are best.
2. Use compost, earthworm castings, organic fertilizer and dry molasses.
3. Avoid synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemical pesticides.
4. Add volcanic rock minerals - i.e. lava sand, zeolite, basalt, azomite, etc.
5. Mulch all bare soil with shredded native tree trimmings.
6. Water at night or very early morning for best results. No that doesn't encourage disease - it rains at night.
7. Be careful of drip irrigation. Water has a habit of seeking the path of least resistance. The result can be wet and dry spots. Above ground sprinkling is usually best.

Again - the most important point of all is to use an organic program. Healthy soil contains bacteria, fungi and other beneficial microbes that hold and use water very efficiently. The roots of plants in healthy soil are greatly expanded by the growth of microbes, especially mycorrhizal fungi. It’s all as nature intended.

Corporate headquarters, golf courses, commercial and residential landscapes, and public gardens can save about 40-50% on water use and related costs by using an organic program. See the following success stories: Organic Golf Courses: Tierra Verde. Public Garden: Bayou Bend. News Story: The Grass is Greener at Harvard.

If you have any questions on this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8 am - 11 am (CST) to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. Listen on the internet or find a station in your area. The phone number for the show is1-866-444-3478. Please share this newsletter with everyone in your address book and all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help me spread the word on organics.

Naturally yours,
Howard Garrett

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