Environmental Friendly Landscape Practice
Homeowners spend thousand of dollars each year on fertilizer, water and pesticides for their landscapes. Much of this applied incorrectly or unnecessarily, wasting money and polluting our environment. With proper planting, planting maintenance, a healthier landscape can be created with less expense, less work, and less damage to the world around us.
Planning is the first steps to a better landscape. Plants that are suitable to the site need less fertilizer, water and pesticides. There are four essential components of planning.
Site analysis--- Check sun, wind and drainage before choosing your plant. A plant that needs shade wil do poorly in the sun, becoming stress and insect prone. A plant that need air circulation will likely need a fungicide to keep disease under control if planted in an area with no air movement.
Size---Learn what the mature size of your plants will be. A common mistake is to choose plants that will quickly out grow on the site. These plants will either need constant pruning or replacement in a few years. Crowded plants grow poorly, and more prone to insects and diseases.
Water needs--- Develop a landscape that is water efficient. Group plants with similar moisture needs together so that the water is not wasted on the plants that don't need it. Many establish shrubs and trees can go several weeks with out supplemental water. while annual flowers may need more than an inch of irrigation per week. Plan on using flowering shrubs and trees for color rather than just relying an annual and perennials. Plan your flowerbeds where they will provide impact for the least effort. Annual flowerbeds are high maintenance, and require more water than other parts of the landscape.
Plants--- Choose the right plants for the right place. choose plants that are resistant to the pest and disease. These plants will fewer pesticides and fungicides. Consider heat and cold hardiness of plants. Learn the hardiness zone for the are and choose plants suited to your area. Many native plants native plants are suitable for home landscape. However, native plants need an environment, similar to that of their natural habitat if they are going to thrive in the landscape
Planting is the key of healthy plants that are able to resist drought, insect,and diseases. Soil preparation is critical. A well-prepared planting bed, dug to a depth of 12-15 inches and enriched with organic matter, encourages strong root development for shrub masses, and flower borders. Grouping plants together in a mulched bed instead of planting in individual holes keeps larger roots areas cool and moist, providing for plants growth. It is also easier to mow around large areas than small ones.
If planting individual trees and shrubs omit the organic matter but break up the native soil in a wide area around the planting hole. The planting hole should be at least twice the diameter of the root ball. Be sure to loosen up and spread apart the root ball of container plants to encourage roots to grow outward and allow water to penetrate into the root mass. Before planting, check sub-surface drainage by filling the hole with water and allowing it to drain, then repeating. If water is in the planting hole more than an hour drainage is poor and need to be corrected before planting.
Mulch immediately after planting with shredded bar, pine straw or other organic materials. Mulch moderate soil temperature and reduces water needs, and it also helps prevent weeds, erosion, and eliminates damage from string trimmers and lawn mowers. Apply mulch 2 to 4 inches deep and extend it past the drip line of your plants. to prevent disease and insect damage, pull mulch away from the stem of or trunk of the plants.
Mulching enriches and protect soil, helping provide a better growing environment. Mulching will help conserve water while reduces weeds, saving efforts in your garden.
Watering should be done according to plants needs. Newly planted trees and shrub frequent watering. Once established, many plants can survive weeks without supplemental irrigation. When possible, use drip irrigation or soaker hoses because they apply water to the roots of the plants where it is needed.
Fertilize according to a soil test. Soil pH is critical to efficient use of fertilizer. If pH is too high or low, plant can't use the fertilizer that is applied and will perform poorly, Excess fertilizer may also enter water ways polluting lakes and stream. Fertilizer are available in several forms, from liquids ti granules, and low release forms. Slow release fertilizer release nutrient as the plants need them, according to temperature and the moisture availability. This allows more even plant growth while avoiding loss of the nutrient to leaching and run off.
Too much fertilizer will burn plants or cause weak, spindly growth that is more susceptible to insect attach. Before applying fertilizer, calibrate your spreader. Calibration method vary according to different brands and spreader, so contact the dealer if you are uncertain. If not properly calibrated,, the spreader may apply too much fertilizer, which will not only damage your plants also cause run off and ground water pollution.
Remember that most mature trees and shrubs need little or no supplemental fertilizer.They get many of the nutrients they need from the breakdown of organic mulch. Avoid fertilizing during dry periods. Fertilizer stimulates new growth, which requires more water.
Pruning at the proper time is important. In general, prune spring flowering shrubs immediately after flowering, and prune summer flowering shrubs before spring growth begins. Avoid pruning during times of drought. Pruning stimulates growth, which requires more water.
Insect and disease problem are fewer with good landscape management practices. Walk around your landscape regularly to become familiar with the normal color and growth of your plants and look for the abnormalities. Insects and diseases do not cause most problem on landscape plants. Poor drainage, severe heat, cold, drought, mechanical damage, herbicide drift and over fertilizing commonly cause problem.
Identify the problem before you act. Many times the insect on the plant is not causing the damage. in fact, less than three percent of the insects in the world are pests, the rest are neutral or are beneficial pollinators or predators of other insect. Do all you can to preserve beneficial insects. Beneficial insects rebound more slowly than do pest population. This means that if we damage the beneficial as we try to control the pests, the the population will grow very quickly and may leave us with more severe problem than we had before.
Catching a problem early allows for treatment before disease or insect infestation become overwhelming , Many times pruning the infected branch or dislodging insects with a strong jet of water is that is needed. Many insects and diseases are only vulnerable to pesticides at certain life stages. Applying pesticides at a wrong time won;t help and may cause more problems. Also consider using organic chemicals alternatives because they are often less harmful to humans and the environment.
If pesticides of fungicides are needed, read and follow all label directions exactly. Remember, pesticides are poison, and they can be dangerous to people, pets and the environment if misused.