Everyone with a lawn has the opportunity to be an environmental steward.

This was part of the message presented at the recent Healthy Lawns Healthy Waters program at the Guadalupe Water Conservation District office in Seguin by John Smith, an AgriLife Extension program specialist focused on water quality, Reagan Hejl, a research associate in turfgrass science, and Ward Ling, an AgriLife Extension program specialist in watershed protection.

man talking to people seated at tables
Reagan Hejl discusses the importance of site preparation for turfgrasses during the Healthy Lawns Healthy Waters program in Seguin. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

Turfgrass lawns are a resource that can help prevent soil erosion, dissipate heat, filter chemical pollutants, improve surface water quality and more, as well as enhancing your property value, Hejl, told those gathered for the program.

However, proper management of turfgrasses is important, he said. Improper management can lead to wasted water resources and pollution caused by displaced fertilizers and pesticides.

Hejl explained that good turfgrass management begins with site preparation.

“Plants are healthier, require less irrigation and tolerate stress better when they are grown in a deep and non-compacted soil, so good site preparation prior to planting is critical,” Hejl said. “Start with a pre-plant soil test to establish nutrient availability and identify future problems like salinity or pH issues.”

The soil test will also help determine what nutrients are needed, and helps prevent unnecessary fertilizer applications.

Hejl said it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the different turfgrasses. Some grow better in shade, others are more drought tolerant, some can handle foot traffic better than others.

man talking to group seated at tables
AgriLife Extension Program Specialist John Smith explains the benefits of rainwater harvesting during the Healthy Lawns Healthy Waters program in Seguin. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

“It is important for the homeowner to select the turfgrass that is best suited to meet their needs,” he said.

With many municipalities initiating water saving protocols for lawn irrigation, rainwater harvesting is becoming increasingly popular.

Smith provided an in-depth look at rainwater harvesting, the capture and storage of rainwater for later use.

“This is a conservation practice that can reduce storm water runoff, and so reduce pollutants entering our water bodies,” Smith said. “And rainwater is better for lawns and landscaping as it is sodium free, zero hardness and a nearly neutral pH.”

Homeowners can collect the rain that runs off the roof of their house or other building, and stockpile that water until they need it for their lawn and landscaping, Smith explained.

girl putting papers on table
Emily Bush, an intern in the Department of Soil and Crops water program, sets out informative papers for participants at the Healthy Lawns Healthy Waters program in Seguin. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

“In the winter months, November thru February, the plants are dormant. The water from those months can be diverted to storage tanks and saved until the warm, dry summer months when the plants need it for growth,” he said.

Smith explained how to create a rainwater catchment and discussed the different tanks available for holding the water, filters which could be used, first flush diverters and more.

Ling provided an update on the Geronimo-Alligator Creeks watershed protection plan which is being implemented in the Seguin area.

three people by rain barrell made from 55-gal plastic drum.
Ward Ling, left, and John Smith, right, presented the 55-gallon rain barrell to Carson Manning, a participant in the Healthy Lawns Healthy Waters program held in Seguin. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

The Healthy Lawns Healthy Waters programs are presented statewide. For more information contact John Smith at [email protected]