Go to an Expert to Nurture Your Landscape

Buyer Beware:

Out making the rounds last weekend, a Pelham resident told me they had a tree company trimming a their shrubs and fertilizing the whole property (including the lawn) organically. The shrub beds had moss growing in them indicating a pH imbalance. Basically anyplace moss grows, most plants are unable to absorb nutrients well (with a few exceptions) and the plants and/or sod fail over time. When I asked if they had ever soil tested the answer was no, but I could, and give him the results to take to them (even though they never noticed the moss or thought of soil testing). Going through the “value shopper” envelope, I found a termite pesticide company who also is applying organic fertilization for landscapes and lawn. The ad never mentions soil testing, just what a great value their organic service is. A fall out of the new economy is that companies that developed in one niche are trying to expand into others. Many of them do this with some success because consumers tend to view services as commodities. This impression is re-enforced by “mow and blow” companies that send out crews with limited knowledge. People fallaciously have the impression that anyone can plant a shrub, prune and/or shear them, and anyone can fertilize plant material. Landscapes are hopefully complex ecosystems with intricate relationships that are all impacted by any kind of change. The basis for plant health is the combination of light, water, soil, air, and human/animal interaction with plants. We cant control sun and air, we can influence soil and water. However, this should not be done lightly or randomly. If a company is fertilizing your property, or amending the soil and they have not assessed the condition of the soil, they are flying blind. Its sort of like adding oil or fuel to your engine without checking to see if you need it first, best case, the extra fuel/oil/fertilizer washes off, worst case it damages the engine or plant material. The best case scenario is not a good one for the environment, in fact, whether your organic or chemical, fertilizing with something that the soil and plants can’t absorb leads to fertilizer in the local water ways and even drinking water depending on the area.

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