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Eark-Kind techniques enhance enjoyment, protect environment

One of the best methods of growing healthy plants and conserving water at the same time is to use mulch in the landscape. Experienced gardeners have long known the secret of mulching the garden and all its benefits.

What is mulch? Mulch is simply a protective ground covering that saves water, reduces evaporation, prevents erosion, controls weeds, and in the case of organic mulches, enriches the soil.

Compost is a mixture of decayed organic matter used as fertilizer and used to improve soil conditions. Compost can increase water and nutrient holding capacity in sandy soils, increase aeration, increase internal drainage of clay soils and increase microorganisms beneficial to the soil.

Each year, nearly millions of tons of leaves, grass clippings, tree limbs, weeds, organic debris and other yard wastes end up in Texas landfills. Composting is an important Earth-Kind practice that can help address this critical issue. One advantage of adding compost is that nutrients are released over a long period of time in the soil. Disadvantages are the costs of transporting and applying the compost as well as finding large quantities to improve large areas for commercial gardens.

Some make their own compost. Others purchase it from municipalities or private companies specializing in making large quantities of compost material.

Initial applications will depend on the compost and the soil type. In very sandy soils, more compost material may be needed per acre. The best way to know how much to use is to test the compost on a small plot with your crop, soil and growing conditions. Compost, like soil, can be analyzed at a reliable independent or university laboratory.

Other practices to aid in an Earth-Kind landscape is rainwater harvesting, low-volume irrigation systems and to perform irrigation audit. These practices reduce water usage, saving money while ensuring conservation of a precious natural resource.

Finally, use proper landscape design, selecting the ideal plants adapted for the right areas of your landscape. These plants are oftentimes proven plants that are adapted to the environmental conditions in an area already. There are no hard and fast rules, since conditions vary from location to location, but by following some basic Earth-Kind principles, your chances for success will be greatly increased.


Educational programs of the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status. The Texas AM University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.

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