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Don’t Waste Water: Part III

Gardening success in the summer typically comes down to water management more than any other factor. Two days ago we posted some application tips from RainBird and those are all essential. Even more important, though, is the medium upon which the water lands and is absorbed — or not. The soil, in other words, is absolutely critical.

I tell people to think of soil as a sponge. The idea is to build up the thickest sponge possible, which will be capable of absorbing as much water and as many nutrients as possible. The thick sponge will also hold onto the water and nutrients, whereas a thin, hard sponge won’t do much good at all.

The sponge principle is at the core of why organic gardening is more sustainable than chemical gardening. When you apply chemical products, some of them are absorbed into the plant and the rest of them leach away from or through the soil — or “sponge.” When you apply organic products such as composts, leaf mulches, soil amendments or fertilizers, they actually become part of the soil — therefore increasing the sponge factor incrementally season by season and year by year.

The number one benefit of organic soil management is drought tolerance. In other words, when the rain stops falling naturally, your lawns will stay greener longer when you maintain your lawn organically. In many climates, supplemental water is rarely if ever necessary on a lawn that is maintained organically.

Much of this is related to a phenomenon known as improved soil structure. One of our sponsors, Dr. Earth, has a nice post on this on their web site at You’ll find it on the left-hand side of their home page under Projects: Improving Soil Structure.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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