Are you suffering from Dought ? 

Here in St. Petersburg, FL we suffered from a serious drought.  It is was so bad that we were prohibited from even washing our cars.  It is better now, but we may be in for a bad year again in 2005.

Already, lawns and gardens are turning to hard, brown crust and even the weeds are dying. The Weather Channel has reported that many other parts of the country will be in the same condition this year.

In the search for water conservation and keeping our flora and fauna alive, we have found several easy, inexpensive solutions.

  • Take a hanging plant container, close the hole tab normally open for drainage, and fill it with water.  Hang it from a tree by a rope or other method so that squirrels and birds can safely get a drink.

  • Take a 5-gallon bucket, put some sand in it (you can leave the sand in the bag) and put a 40-gallon plant tub tray on the top to make a bird bath. Make sure you replace the water regularly to prevent algae growth.

  • Use a water absorbing polymer when planting ANYTHING - vegetable garden, flower beds, trees, shrubs, ground cover or new sod.  The best value on these polymers can be found at  (A recent news segment reported a price of $149 for 15 lbs - At watersorb you can buy 10 lbs for $33 or 50 lbs for $145.  

Super absorbent polymer instructions

Application rates vary due to type of soil, region and type of plant. Generally, clay soils require less polymer and sandy soils require more. Arid regions and areas subject to heat and drought require more polymer.  When using polymer in drought areas, use hydrated polymer whenever possible. To hydrate the polymer place 1/4cup in 5-gallon bucket, fill with water and let stand for one hour.     Wet, cool regions require less polymer, however polymers in these regions are very beneficial for planting on slopes. All rates are an approximation, and with experience the planter will determine the rates for their individual needs and conditions. When applying dry water absorbing polymer, the main thing to remember is more isnít always better. The polymer should be worked into the ground to provide equal distribution.  Some polymer users have been known to plant annuals on top of an ample amount of polymer without working it in the soil, and after the first rain, find the plant out of the ground and a large lump of jello-like substance (hydrated polymer) in its' place. If hydrated polymer is allowed to remain above the ground, sunlight will hasten the breakdown to its primary elements of carbon dioxide, ammonia and water. . 

TREES and Shrubs. Use large 2-4mm polymer. 1 gal use 1/4 cup, 3 gal use Ĺ cup, 5 gal use ĺ cup 15 gal use 1 Ĺ cup. Dig hole at least three times the size of the container and incorporate polymer through out the area. After planting, create a dam around the tree or if on a slope leave the topside open to collect water thus allowing a water reservoir to be readily absorbed by polymer. (1/4 cup = 2 oz. Polymer) Adding additional smaller polymer also helps capture water faster.

LAWNS. Use large 2-4mm or Medium 1-2mm polymer. For application before sodding,* 4-5 pounds per 1,000 square feet tilled 1-2" deep or 5 pounds tilled 4-6" deep. Application can be either by hand or a lawn spreader. Never use more than 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet tilled only one inch as prolonged sponginess may occur. After first rain hydrated polymer may appear and the sod may seem loose, however the polymer will dissolve and after the roots grow the looseness will dissipate. Adding additional smaller polymer also helps capture water faster.

  For established lawns in severe droughts, apply polymer to the dry grass and cover with about 1 inch of soil, then soak thoroughly with water.  A 50/50 blend  of powdered polymer and small polymer is recommended for this application as the blend will absorb  all available water.

VEGETABLES and BEDS. Use small 0.8-1.0mm or medium 2-4 mm or   polymer. 12-45 pounds per 1,000 square feet at 4-6" depth cultivation. Use less for drier plants and more for moisture loving plants. After planting, a good coat of mulch will dress up the bed and cover any loose polymer, thus giving a finished look and protecting the polymer from premature degradation by sunlight. Adding additional  smaller polymer also helps capture water faster.

POTTED PLANTS. Use small 0.8-1.0mm or medium 1-2mm or  polymer. 4" pot 1/6 tsp., 6" pot 1 tsp., 8" pot 2 tsp., 10" pot 3 tsp. When potting, it is best to have most of the polymer toward the bottom of the pot so it will better absorb available water. When applying hydrated polymer, use 4 parts soil to 1 part hydrated polymer. Adding smaller polymer also helps capture water faster.

BARE ROOT. Use Powder polymer.     Dry application: dip moist roots into dry polymer coating them in white powder which will hydrate immediately when watered.     Wet application: 2TBS per gallon water or until gel is a thick slurry. Dip roots into gel to keep moist for planting, then add appropriate amount of larger polymer to hole for water retention. Powdered polymer is short lived (1-2 years) and used for bare rooting, seed coating and some potting soils where moisture retention is critical to the survival of the transplanting and germination.                                                                  has a Horticulturist on staff to answer your questions on line.