Private Houston Gardens
Land Stewardship Program

Surprising Results Prompt Program Expansion

Crape Myrtle Grove

Stepping into the gardens of this Houston property is like stepping into another world. Immaculately cultivated and maintained, the gardens include lawns, magnolia and crape myrtle groves, a formal rose garden, and innumerable annual and perennial flowers and ornamental shrubs and trees.

Background

The most striking feature of these gardens is that they’ve been managed organically since they were first constructed. After enjoying the benefits of organic management for so many years, the client asked Merlin Organics to help them develop and implement a broader stewardship program that included in-house compost and compost-tea production.

The Program

Starting in early 2012, Merlin Organics developed and implemented an on-site composting operation, then worked closely with the property’s staff to channel all of the green waste produced in the gardens — and in the kitchen — into the compost. In turn, the compost produced on the grounds is used in the garden, simultaneously reducing costs for both ground cover and green-waste disposal.

Merlin also designed a pilot program — with clear and measurable goals — for treating a portion of the property, including turf, roses, and annual flowers, with a regimen of compost and compost tea that would improve soil ecology and plant health. We worked with the garden staff to set up capacity for producing fresh compost tea on-site, enabling staff to brew and apply their own high-quality, low-cost organic soil amendments.

Results

Not only did the pilot program achieve its goals, but we’ve seen a virtual elimination of the common Rhizoctonia fungus, which causes the prevalent condition called “brown patch” in lawns in Houston and worldwide.

Based on the program’s success to date, the client has expanded the treatment program to encompass the entire property, making one of Houston’s most elegant and celebrated gardens also one of the healthiest, safest, and most sustainable.