Consumers, as well as turf pros, will get the chance to use surfactants in the California market. Two major companies are introducing retail products into that drought-stressed market.

GelTech Solutions, a technology company based in Jupiter, Florida, recently launched Soil2O, a water-retaining soil polymer in the Pasadena/Arcadia region of Southern California.

The product—described as a cross-linked, super-absorbing copolymer—is being sold on the company’s website. Discussions are underway to make the product available on Amazon and through Southern California retail locations initially. Eventually, GelTech will expand distribution throughout the U.S. Southwest, says Paul Christie, GelTech Director of Communications.

Soil2O is being sold in the consumer market as a powder in a 5-pound bucket. When paired with irrigation water, forms a gel. When the water/gel mixture is watered into the soil via a garden hose it “acts like millions of tiny sponges to hold water,” says Christie.

He says the polymer, which penetrates 2 to 4 inches into the soil, lasts for 90 days before it needs to be reapplied. He claims Soil2O absorbs up to 400 to 500 times its weight in water, is easy to apply and saves up to 50 percent in water consumption. The starter pack (product, gel injector and fan spray nozzle) costs $89.99 and refill packs are $39.99.

Scotts MiracleGro, based in Marysville, Ohio, this past summer began marketing and selling a trademarked product called Every-Drop in California. Scotts describes EveryDrop as “a watering agent that uses an innovative surfactant technology to help available water penetrate the soil more easily and evenly so it can better reach the roots zone and hydrate the plant.”

The product is available in a 10-pound bag or a 3-pound shaker jug at a cost of $9.99-$11.99. It can be purchased by consumers at Home Depot, Lowes and Orchard Hardware Supply, according to Scotts. Dr. Baird at UC Riverside is starting research on the product.