City offering rebates for soil improvements

You can’t have healthy plants if you don’t have healthy soil,

The city of San Marcos Water Department is announcing a new rebate for taking care of your soil. The Soil Saver Rebate Program aims to improve soil depth and quality as a means of saving water. 

 The new rebate program offers rebates for core aeration of lawn areas, top-dressing lawn areas with compost, using compost to supplement bed and garden soils and using mulch on beds, gardens and around trees.  

 The rebate program is open to all city of San Marcos water utility customers and allows for hiring contractors to do the work, or doing the work yourself.  The rebate amount is 50 percent of the cost of service and materials, up to the maximum dollar amounts listed.  

 The process is simple – do the work or hire someone to do it for you, then submit a completed rebate application along with itemized receipts and photos of the finished project. The rebate application and submission information can be found online at 

 “You can’t have healthy plants if you don’t have healthy soil,” said Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator for the city of San Marcos. “Healthy soils are deep, loose and have adequate nutrients: deep because they need to have room for roots to spread out and grow, and because deeper soils can hold more moisture; loose because they need to allow water, air and nutrients into the plant root zone; and nutrients because they are necessary for plant growth.”

 A few helpful tips before getting started on your spring landscaping projects:

• Before aerating your soil, make sure to mark irrigation system components, shallow wires and pipe, tree roots, and any other items that could be damaged.

• Follow your core aeration with a ¼ to ½ inch top-dressing of high-quality, finely screened compost, then water the compost in.

• Choose natural fertilizers like compost instead of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers are often over-applied and can be hard on your plants.  They can also be washed off onto our rivers during rainfall events and contribute to water pollution. 

• Don’t “scalp” your lawn in the spring.  Take no more than one-third of the grass blade off when mowing.

• Use a mulching blade on your mower to shred leaves instead of raking and bagging them, and leave your grass clippings on your lawn – both provide valuable nutrients as they decompose.

• Test your soil periodically to determine if any nutrients are lacking.  Contact the Hays County Extension Office at 512-393-2120 to get your soil test kit.  

• No mulch “volcanoes” or mounds around your trees.  A few inches of mulch should be applied beneath the drip zone or canopy of the tree, not piled up against the trunk.  

• Use a few inches of mulch around plants in vegetable gardens and landscape beds to insulate the soil and hold moisture in.

• Check your irrigation system to make sure it is functioning properly.  The city offers free irrigation system evaluations to residential water customers – call 512-393-8308.     

• Make sure you are following local water restrictions.  The City is not currently under drought restrictions, but year-round restrictions prohibit use of sprinklers between the hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Wasting water is also prohibited at all times.          

For more information on water and energy conservation programs, please call 512-393-8310 or email


San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666