Drought alert: New way to save both money and your lawn - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Drought alert: New way to save both money and your lawn

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SAN DIEGO -- (CBS 8) -- The California drought has homeowners looking for ways to keep their lawns green with less water.

One product that's been around for decades is now becoming more popular.  It uses super-absorbent crystals and claims to cut water use in your garden by up to 60 percent.

One brand is called AquaSmart and it looks just like sand.  Actually, it’s sand surrounded by polymer.

“It’s polymer crystals, so it looks like a sand and it's coated with a polymer coating,” said Point Loma resident Warren Bishop, owner of the Down Under Services landscaping company.

On existing lawns, start off by using an aerating machine to help get the product into the soil.

“You need to do a thorough aerating to pump out the holes to get the product in there,” said Bishop, who uses the product on his own lawn with great success.

Forty pounds covers Bishop’s entire front lawn and costs about 25 cents per square foot.

“An application can last two to three years and it has the effect of absorbing the water when it first goes on,” said Bishop.

The polymer crystals can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water and retain water in the top soil where it’s available to the roots.

In order to save the most water, however you also need to install water-efficient sprinklers.  That way, less water is applied and more water is retained.

“The water efficient sprinkler heads put out the water a lot slower so it has time to creep into the soil and be picked up by the crystals,” according to Bishop.

The product can also be used on garden shrubs and flowers, as well as potted plants; just one teaspoon per four inch pot.

“It’s very suitable to planting.  Any installation we do we mix it into the soil and it stays in the soil and helps the plants grow,” Brown said.

AquaSmart is nontoxic and biodegradable, according to the company.

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