We hear so often of the incredible power of good soil and I believe in healthy soil’s power and efficacy. As a person who loves growing vegetables, flowers and doesn’t love watering my lawn, water saving and improved water retention have been a witnessed benefit as well. Recently, I heard a stat that 27,000 gallons of water can be stored in the soil by increasing organic matter by 1% in the soil per acre.
Water Retention Techniques
27,000 gallons of water, 1% of organic matter increase, and one acre all seem like sort of arbitrary numbers; let assure you, this is a mind-blowing reality. Organic matter is the formerly alive portion of the soil. We mostly think of mulch and compost as main sources of organic matter, but the plants add their own as well. After looking into it people can improve their gardening game and soil health by
- compost topdressing
- foliar seaweed sprays
- compost tea
- increasing organic matter
We talk about compost topdressing quite a bit on HomeShow Garden Pros and each ¼ inch topdressing is the equivalent of adding ½% organic matter to you soil. Two treatments would get you to a 1 percent increase.
Water Retention Stats
A one percent increase doesn’t sound like much and it reduces run off of an acre by 27,000 gallons. Most of us don’t have yards and we have houses on those yards. Okay, so I estimated that each home has an average yard of 2800 square feet. At that lot size, each home that increased their soil’s organic matter by 1% could collect roughly 1850 gallons of water. That’s a lot; but it may not seem that impressive at the per lot size. If only 200 thousand homes were top dressed twice, we could prevent over 350 million gallons of water heading to the streets, or the bayous or our neighbors’ homes. Rough estimations suggest that around 450 million gallons of water fell on the Houston area.
Its established that you can have a healthier, more resilient, safer, green lawn by compost topdressing. Its also well researched that flowers bloom longer, fruit tastes better, and vegetables are more nutritious with a roots/soils first approach to gardening. But to add to those realities that possibility that we could prevent the next Harvey from devastating Houston by this one simple step, that really commits me to getting more people on board. Please feel free to do your own math, or research other ways to increase organic matter in your soil to help with water retention. Together we can do this; let’s go Houston!