For The Answer
Week of July 21, 2003
Submitted by Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Conservation Director, San Antonio Water System, and Horticulturist
MULCHING LAWNMOWERS, COMPOST, AND COMMUNITY CHALLENGE
One of the most important practices to producing a good lawn is to mow it frequently at the right height for the type of grass. Mow St. Augustine grass at 3 inches or higher, zoysia at 2 inches high, Bermuda grass at 1.5 inches or less, and buffalo grass at 5 inches. Mow frequently enough that only one-third of the blade is removed at once.
Grass clippings are too valuable to bag them up and ship them to the landfill with the garbage truck. The clippings decompose quickly when left on the lawn and return nitrogen and other nutrients back to the grass. Mulching mowers are especially good at the task. Cut the grass leaves twice and the resultant clippings are so small they filter into the lawn and are unseen. No more rows of clippings in the lawn and certainly no need to bag the clippings.
If you do not have a mulching blade on your power lawn mower and would like one, Keep San Antonio Beautiful, Bexar County, and City of San Antonio will give you one free if you are willing to take the old blade from your mower, travel to Garden-Ville (7651 E. Evans Rd.) on Saturday, July 26, from 9 a.m. until noon, and trade it in (while supplies last). Not only will you get the mulching mower blade (21 inches), you will receive a small compost bin and a vegetable refuse container for the kitchen (while supplies last). The program runs from 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on “Organic Material and Saving Water.” Other speakers include Malcolm Beck and Jim Doersham. This is an event to attend if you want all the information on composting. For more information contact Cyndi Jarrel at 479-3652.
If you cannot make it to the Blade Trade II at Garden-Ville, there are several other opportunities to learn about composting. On August 2 at 10 a.m. Keep San Antonio Beautiful will present a one-hour program on composting at the San Antonio Garden Center (3310 N. New Braunfels). The same program will be offered at Fertile Garden Supply (8349 Leslie Rd at 1604 W) on August 9 at 1 p.m. If you want to learn about composting and see Dr. Jerry Parsons and me do our radio show “Gardening South Texas” plan on attending the composting program at 1 p.m. at Milbergers (3920 N. Loop 1604 E) on Saturday, August 16.
Graduates of the August 2, 9, and 16th events will also receive the free compost bin and kitchen scrap pail while supplies last. For more information on the events visit the Keep San Antonio Beautiful website at www.ksab.org or call them at 207-6460.
If your neighborhood or youth group is participating in the SAWS Community Conservation Challenge, the results for May are posted on the SAWS website at saws.org. Four groups met their goal of 5% or more and four other groups reduced water consumption as compared to same month average over the previous three years: St. Benedict’s Rangers, 10%; Skyline Neighborhood Association, 7%; Madonna Center, 7%; Girl Scout Troop 2527, 5%; Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio, 3%; My Friend’s Church, 3%; Knights of Columbus, 2%; and High Country Homeowners Association, .3%. The St. Benedict’s Rangers saved the most water (10%) and will receive $360 as the monthly winner. The group is using the awards for Community Challenge to purchase sports equipment and uniforms for the team.
There are still four months left in the Community Challenge for most groups. If the groups meet their conservation goal for the five-month period they will receive $1 times the goal times the number of people in the group. There will also be four more monthly winners. As a whole, the 37 groups participating in the challenge are using 15% less water this summer than the general residential population. Much of the reduction is probably due to the high percentage of the participants who took advantage of SAWS free low-flow toilet offer. Other participants are using the SIP (Seasonal irrigation Program) to determine when they water their lawn. For more information on both water conservation programs visit the SAWS website or call 704-7354.