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No, you’re not lost on an arts and crafts blog. These polyacrylamide polymer crystals can absorb 400 times their weight in water, swelling up to a jelly-like consistency and looking like watery ice, and photo pool member Poekie knows how to capture the beauty of that process. But these crystals can also save your lawn and your pocketbook.

Those of you with lawns, especially if you’re in the southwest, are probably dreading the summer water bills — or you’ve abandoned your yard to the summer scorch and the fire ants. These polymer crystals’ll catch and hold the water that hits your yard, slowly releasing the water as everything dries out.

About four to five pounds will treat 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn or garden, and you’ll want to work it in, spreading it after a lawn aeration or tilling it into your garden. Many sites offer advice on how to use the crystals. The great news: they last for years — though estimates vary, five years is conservative — and they’re biodegradable.

The crystals are sold under many names and brands, but in general you’ll pay $9 to $14 for a single pound — bulk prices are less if you can find them.

H2Oasis Watering Crystals [GTG Hydroponics]
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]
Watersorb.com [Resource]
Via Amazon [What’s This?] [What’s This?]


5 Responses to Watering Crystals

  1. Blind says:

    These also work well for Jello Wrestling. 5 lbs worth will fill a kiddie pool to a good level.

    I mean, if you are curious in such things.

    They feel great to lay in though (in above mentioned kiddie pool) and I’ve often wonderer how a water bed filled with them would work. Seems like it would be a good addition

  2. Patrick says:

    2 words. Baby diapers. Always wondered where that pitcher of ice tea went.

  3. Jason says:

    This looks a lot like what I use to keep my cigars from drying out in the humidor.


  4. J.R. Bluett says:

    Patrick, I found out about the baby diapers thing. There are a number of water absorbing compounds with different properties and the one in baby diapers evidently breaks down faster than the polyacrylamide. But they are certainly similar. Of course, I just saw a baby diaper version that feels cool when wet (new baby here). I don’t know if it is a two compound trick or if it is at least a third water absorbing compound that also gets cold.

  5. Knowbody says:

    I’ve seen ’em, but the package I saw said to NOT use ’em with food plants.

    I don’t know if there is a definite threat, or if that is just precaution.

    I also don’t know if any variant is safe for use with soil one has food plants growing in ( or -will- have food growing in, in a couple of years )

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