Updated: May 8, 2019
Hi all - running out of time this time of year for the blog. Which is great because that means I'm out and about learning, teaching, and taking care of plants and soils. Bad because this blog is meant to help people and how can it do that if I am not posting to it?!? Please, send your suggestions for topics.
Down to business...
Many companies lime soils to break-up the clay. But liming highly alkaline soils (often
associated with high clay, though not always) increases the alkalinity and nutrient deficient soils = nutrient deficient plants. Important to break-up or increase aggregation of clay soils because it increases gas exchange, creates a happy habitat for
beneficial organisms, and no root girdling! So, they are at least considering an important component, some of them. But you deserve more but you won't get it without knowing what's wrong and asking for better - right?!? Fore example, covering clay soils with a thick layer of mulch is another favorite and totally
useless approach landscapers take. See pic above.
Have to be informed to address soils;
testing is critical!
Nutrient deficient plants have poor growth and poor immune systems = increase pest pressure. Leads to micro- and macro-nutrient deficiencies. The azalea pictured above is
iron, nitrogen, and likely copper deficient. It's planted in that clay soil covered by a thick mulch. This makes the plant less able to combat the lacewings that have attacked
it nearly year round. Add to that the landscape being kept permanently moist and there's almost no chance to have a healthy plant. Nitrogen moves quickly through the soil and literally gets "washed-out". Perpetually wet soils fast growth of pathogens like phytophthora root rot and verticillium wilt. Two pathogens that are pervasive, and to which health plants can put up a winning fight, most of the time.
I see cankers constantly in the landscape because plants have succumbed to a bacteria
latent in the wood tissue. Meaning, the bacteria lives without harming the plant, in the plant. It doesn’t produce the bumpy cankers until the plant is stressed. What is more stressful than a poor diet?
The same is true for the fungus shown in the first pic above. It's pervasive, often present in the plant and causing no harm. Till the plant can't defend itself. So, treat your soils well and your plants' roots will be happier leading to healthier plants that cost lest, look better, and invite more beneficial birds and bees to hang-out with ya'll.
So - before you sign that turf contract - ask them if they will do a soil test before they create a program and will they follow their program with multiple soil tests to make sure the program is working? If not, well....
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