Anyone use Co-polymer gel?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by lilmarvin4064, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. lilmarvin4064

    lilmarvin4064 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 757

    Anyone ever use co-polymer gel (a.k.a soil moist) crystals to aid in water retention? I'm wondering how well these would work with hydroseeding and/or aeration/overseeding. From what I understand they can hold up to 400 times their weight in water, and have the possiblity of lasting up to 10 years in the soil as long as they are buried (they will break down in the presence of UV light). The product makers suggest 10 lbs. per acre with hydroseeding.

    Anyone ever try it?
  2. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    Yes, I have used them many, many times. In planters on commercial properties that needed to be watered by hand, they are a life saver, allowing to be watered only twice per week, a huge labor savor! There also is a company that makes a turf injector, set up off a great dane power head with the mower removed, I think. Anyway, I have also seen their demo patches done for cities, mainly on heavy slopes and problem spots. The problem is two fold. A) the cost of the material for doing large sections of turf is huge in comparison to traditional management practices B) getting the crystals to depth on turf. You see, placing them on the surface or in the top couple inches of soil has no benefit. That is not where your root zone is. In a planter, we could thoroughly mix them in, in existing turf, you have no such luck. If they could guarantee a varying depth of penetration in the 8" to 12" range of most turfs, I think that would be of benefit. As it stands, exisiting equipment is not doing that and surface spreading will get you nothing.
  3. lilmarvin4064

    lilmarvin4064 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 757

    thanks for the info. I was wondering how well in would work if you applied it after core aerating. I would think a heavy rain would be sufficient to wash the crystals into the holes, also I would think that they would be most beneficial in the 3 to 4 inch depth zone for turf. Unfortunately most common aerators don't pull cores much deeper than 2 1/2 inches. I might try this out on a small area that has a history of LDS.
  4. I have seriously consider using them for overseeding and establishment of new lawns. I believe properly watering the soil to establish a new lawn or improve density in an existing lawn is the biggest problem we face, and is the major reason for failure. I would want the gel particles mainly to retain the water for establishment, and since I use an aera-vator for overseeding and lawn install, I would be able to incorporate the cyrstal quite well in the soil

    Just my thoughts, any other suggestions?
  5. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    Working them into a new planting would certainly be easier than an existing one and yes, they would work quite well for holding and gradually releasing water back to the seed. However, cost has to be considered and unless there is a bulk supply of that available somewhere, the small jars would not go far in a turf app and could send costs skyrocketing. Hard to beat a fine grade mulch or compost for cost and effectiveness at water retention.
  6. When installing a new lawn, I already use a cellusose and wood fiber pelletize mulch, at an rate of 50 to 100lbs/m, depending on size of area, availability and means to water, and the slope. I have figure the extra cost/m of co polymer gels to be fairly in expense, considering I believe it will greatly increase the sucuss rate of establishment! What does it cost to apply 75lbs/m of a pelletized mulch, material cost only?
  7. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    For those looking for a cheap source try, and ask for JohnPaul. I wouldnt even consider buying the waterabsorbing crystals by the little bottle. I am not sure of the price now for 50 lbs bags but somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 delivered by UPS to your front door.

    Tim, if you try applying the crystals with an area-vator, be sure the turf is extra dry, even the moisture that you stir up from the ground while areavating will make the surface super slick. Also any material that is spilled on sidewalks and driveways should be broomed off dry before it gets wet. this stuff gets super slick with just a little bit of water.

    I have used the product in a hydroseeder with mixed results. I hydroseeded an area next to a lake in July. It was so hot and dry that you could see the slurry drying out and crusting over, the soil was a powder. This was a big area and I didnt finish up until almost dark. The fog started rolling in from the lake and the soil turned to mud instantly, when they say that the water absorbing crystal will absorb moisture from the air, they arenot kidding. We didnt have any rain for three weeks after seeding this area but in two weeks the grass was 2 inches high and in three weeks it needed mowing. No irrigation was applied or even available.

    Now when i say I had mixed results, I have seeded other dry areas that didnt have the benefit of a fog rolling in every night to provide moisture. I cant prove it but???? it seemed to me that the crystals would pull moisture from the plants if we didnt get a little rain or other means of keeping the crystals hydrated. I have actually had plants wilt where I had tilled the crystals into the soil, this was even tho the soil seemed moist. Nothing scientific about my plantings to reach any kind of conclusion one way or the other but my personal opinion is, you can over apply the crystals and the crystals will compete with the estabishing grass for any available moisture, even to the point of pulling moisture back out of the plants.
  8. interesting
  9. TOMMY1115

    TOMMY1115 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 169

    Pro's Choice Soilmaster is a cheaper way of going. It's a product used on infields of baseball complex's all over the US to help absorb water. Plus it will aid in reducing soil compaction. I'm currently trying it on my lawn to see how it does. A cheaper alternative to the co-polymer gel. If you are hydroseeding, i would definately use the co-polymer gel if it's a big area without irrigation. A 25# bag will fum $150, but you only use something like 2# for 800 gallons, so it really doesn't increase your cost too much.
  10. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    50 for 150 is certainly a more doable number, I just have never seen it in that sized bag anywhere before. I know the claim for pulling moisture from the air, but I should add this little observation. I generally have shown my new gardneres how this works my placing a small layer of crystals on a plastic lid on a workbench in our shop, wet them up to show them how they will swell and have them watch release each day until they return to normal size with no additional water. This is inside a swamp cooled area most times with humidity hovering at 65%. They dry out in three days and do not appear to be drawing moisture from the air. This is in an exposed condition of course and our use has always been in planters, as I said before, mixed with potting soil and peat and thoroughly drenched each cycle when we watered them out. Did not see any indication of pulling moisture away from plants either, but again, in those conditions. As far as cost of mulch, many cities are operating compost/mulch/recycling services in the west now, paired with large farm operations making their compost available in large quantities, the cost for top dressing is pretty low, down to even $12 per ton in certain circumstances. Blown or with a large throat hopper, not as nice as pelletized as far as spreading goes, but if it were a matter of adding no organics or a cheap one, I'll choose the latter each time.

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