Organic Lawns Thrive in Texas Drought
Climate variances never cease to amaze me. As I sit here in soggy Maine with vernal pools that have usually evaporated by May still in evidence as we approach August, I also see on the news that Texas and parts of the nation are experiencing the worst drought in history.
Three years ago I was in Texas to film organic lawn care segments for HGTV. One of our guests was Michael Bosco, an organic lawn care professional from Dallas, who took our crew around to see more than 50 of his customers’ properties. Then, as now, parts of Texas were in an “all-time-worst” drought, yet Michael’s lawns looked great.
Without a doubt, the number one functional benefit of tending your landscape organically will be drought tolerance. Adding natural fertilizers and soil amendments like compost and compost tea increase the “sponge factor” of your soil, allowing it to hold onto nutrients much longer. Many conventional synthetic products actually decrease the soil’s ability to retain moisture, so when the drought hits the landscape is doomed.
I clicked on the iPhone yesterday to call Michael, who got right back to me within minutes. The owner of www.soilsalive.com informed me that not all of Texas was in a drought, that his area of Dallas Fort-Worth had just received a half inch of rain and was actually about normal in terms of precipitation for the season. In Austin and San Antonio, however, the situation was much more dire. Michael has a branch of SoilsAlive in Austin, so I asked him how his company was coping and how his lawns looked:
Michael Bosco: “It’s pretty much the same as what you saw when you were here. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback. The organic lawns look good. We just opened the Austin operation last year with 20 or so clients and we’re up to 150 to 200 clients already. When one neighbor with a brown lawn sees a green lawn next door, he wants to know how that is happening.”
Paul Tukey: And you’re not violating the water restrictions, I’m sure.
MB: “No. We’d get in trouble quickly for that. We actually try to teach our clients to water no more than once a week. Water deeply, but infrequently. That’s good for the grass plants and it also helps manage the weed population, especially the crabgrass. When people water every day, the crabgrass will start germinating like crazy.”
PT: So the organic lawn care business is good, then?
MB: “I hear there’s a recession somewhere, but I haven’t seen evidence of it yet other than the pessimists who talk on radio and television. I think if the media would just leave us alone, the economy, at least around here, would be fine.”