Landscape Mishaps, Misuse and Abuse

Landscapers and homeowners alike are very excited to meet and greet spring 2019 growing season. People in my neighborhood are busy with their lawnmowers and are shopping for new plants. But did you know that many lawn and landscape problems are caused by people and not insect pest or diseases?

Some common landscape problems caused by people are; scalping the lawn, installing plants too deep, planting too shallow, over watering, lack of irrigation, too much mulch, mulch too close to trees, planting trees too close, improper pruning, mechanical injury and chemical injury. Cutting the lawn lower than the species recommended height causes the shallow roots and induces stress on the grass. Plants with shallow root will be able to tolerate drought and winter stress. Raise lawnmower blade during time of drought and reduce cutting frequency. In addition, plants that are installed too deeply will appear to be striving in the first few years of establishment but later show signs of failing after five years. On the other hand, shallow plants do not have strong roots and will not stand against light winds. In addition, plants need adequate water to survive, over watering can increase disease incidents. Water plants when plants show signs of wilting or soil feels crumbly when handle. Mulching- While mulch keeps plant root moist, suppress weeds and reduce mechanical injury. Placing mulch too close to the tree trunk will cause the trunk to stay wet and facilitates plant disease.

Lawn mower and weed trimmers frequently damage tree trunk mechanically which can later provide a site for disease. Planting trees too closely is also a major issue; it prevents proper air circulation and encourage diseases such as lichens. Close planting also leads to unnecessary pruning. It is important to consider the mature size of the tree before planting. The purpose of pruning is to remove dead, diseased, or damage wood, to improve and maintain health and appearance. To reduce risk of branch and stem breakage. Sometimes, we must prune plants that are planted too close to buildings, walkways or driveways with interfere with traffic flow. Not using the proper pruning tools and techniques can affects the health of the plant.

Plants can also get damaged by movement of herbicides from target areas to non-target areas. This means that wind should be taken into consideration when applying pesticides. Avoid applying pesticides if wind speed is 15 miles per hour or more. Please bear in mind that beneficial insects such bees are important pollinator and care should be taken not to harm them. Do not apply herbicides when plants are flowering, this may lead to bees kill.

For more information on lawn and other horticulture topics, you can contact Grantly Ricketts with UF/IFAS extension in Osceola County at 321-697-3000 or email gricketts@ufl.edu.

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