Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program will host a residential rainwater harvesting and turf management training on June 10 for Austin and Washington counties.

the front of a building with a cistern near the door and the
The Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters program, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, helps residents with rainwater harvesting and lawn irrigation best management practices. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

The free event will be from 1-5 p.m., with both an in-person and online option. The in-person training will be at the AgriLife Extension office for Austin County, 800 E. Wendt St., Suite 102, Bellville.

Online registration is required at https://tx.ag/HLHWMillCreek or contact John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Bryan-College Station, at john.smith@ag.tamu.edu or 979-204-0573.

Once attendees register for the event, updates and instructions to join the online Zoom meeting and materials related to the meeting will be emailed.

The training is being offered in collaboration with the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership.

“The Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program aims to improve and protect surface water quality by enhancing awareness and knowledge of best management practices for residential landscapes,” Smith said.

Healthy Lawns, Healthy Waters

Becky Bowling, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension urban water specialist, Dallas, said attendees will learn about the design and installation of residential rainwater harvesting systems as well as appropriate turf and landscape species based on local conditions and other practices.

“Management practices such as using irrigation delivery equipment, interpreting soil test results and understanding nutrient applications can help reduce runoff and make efficient use of applied landscape irrigation water,” Bowling said.

Proper fertilizer application and efficient water irrigation can protect and improve water quality in area creeks, and collecting rainwater for lawn and landscape needs reduces stormwater runoff, said Dean Minchillo, AgriLife Extension program specialist with the Urban Water Team, Dallas.

During this event, Evgenia Spears, AgriLife Extension program specialist watershed coordinator for the Mill Creek Watershed, Bryan-College Station, will discuss updates on Mill Creek watershed protection plan activities to improve and protect water quality in the watershed. 

Soil testing

Participants can have their soil tested as part of the training. The soil sample bag and analysis are free to Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program participants.

Residents can pick up a soil sample bag with sampling instructions and the Urban and Homeowner Soil Sample Information Form at the AgriLife Extension offices in Austin County, 1 E. Main St., Bellville, or Washington County, 1305 East Blue Bell Road, Brenham.

Samples should be returned to the location where the sample bag was picked up no later than a week after the meeting. They will be grouped into one submission and sent to the AgriLife Extension Soil, Water and Forage Testing Lab in Bryan-College Station for routine analysis, including micronutrients, pH, conductivity, nitrate-nitrogen and other parameters.

Soil samples can also be brought to the training, but do not mail the soil sample to the lab.

The training will include information on how to understand soil test results and nutrient recommendations so residents can interpret results once the analysis is mailed to them.

Funding for the Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program is provided in part by the Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreements to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The project is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Susan Himes
Susan Himes is a writer and media relations specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife. She writes news releases and features from science-based information generated by the agency. She also covers human interest stories and events across the state.