Fertile ground: Greener grass with less water

‘Fertigation’ keeps landscape healthy, even in a drought

The grass outside Harvard Place Shopping Center appears greener these days.

And the ficus trees at Bayside Shopping Center are sprouting healthy young shoots where last year’s leaves curled and turned yellow.

Due to the drought, all Irvine Company landscapes are being watered less this spring. Yet many are thriving more than ever.

Why? Because of fertigation.


For years, the accepted method of fertilizing landscape was to hang a “belly grinder” around your neck and turn a hand-crank, scattering fertilizer pellets onto the grass and soil of trees, shrubs, and flowers.

You might do this 6-8 times per year. Sprinkler-water eventually dissolved the pellets into the soil.

California’s drought, however, reduced  water usage, which made it much more challenging to keep plants lush and thriving.

So Tony Terusa, Director of Landscape for Irvine Company Retail Properties, sought a way to do more with less. He consulted soil engineers; ran soil analyses; and tested a new “fertigation” system that drips liquid fertilizer directly into the irrigation pipes—about one drop per gallon of water.

This is known as micro-feeding the soil: slowly, steadily and evenly so that each drop of fertilizer seeps down to the vegetation root system. The results?

“We are seeing positive results both visually and through our soil reports,” he says, describing greener grass and lush new tree canopies. “I’m a believer.”

Over the last year, he installed fertigation systems at all Irvine Company retail properties. Now the company’s office division is doing the same.