Plant Health Care - PHC
Disease Manamement - Integrated Pest Management - Fertilizization
Integrated Pest Management is known as IPM. When will certain insects damage your trees? Learn to identify insects in your area and, when necessary, use the least invasive pesticide at the proper time to control it. For example, aphids are a nuisance, but will not kill a woody plant. On the other hand, wood borers may kill one if left untreated. Aphids should be controlled when you see them, but most other insects must be controlled at very specific times of the year, even if they are not visibly apparent.Fertilizing recognizes the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and the needs of particular trees before you fertilize them. Many trees in the landscape will never need fertilizing; others will.
In an attempt to develop a more holistic system that focuses on healthy landscapes, several terms have been suggested--integrated plant management, integrated landscape management, sustainable landscaping. One term that has received widespread acceptance in the tree care industry is plant health care (PHC).
PHC is as much a change in attitude as a change in technique. Not only does it emphasize plant health over pest management, it takes an ecosystem approach that emphasizes working with nature instead of fighting nature; it sees proper culture as the foundation of a healthy landscape. PHC is not a rejection of IPM. Basically, PHC has evolved from IPM, still incorporates all IPM principles, but goes beyond IPM.
The first step in implementing a PHC system is to identify and list all plants in your yard. How can you take care of your plants if you don't know what they are? Once you have a plant list, do some research to learn more about your plants: their cultural needs, likely pest problems, common environmental problems. During this research, you will uncover some key plants--those that are problem-prone and likely to require the most attention.
After identifying the plants in your garden, you can determine the key problems, both biotic (living organisms such as insects, fungi, slugs, and deer) and abiotic (non-living factors such as weather, fertility, irrigation). Key problems are the ones most likely to impact plant health and require your attention. For example, rhododendrons are often diagnosed as suffering from root weevils or poorly drained soil. Learn more about these key problems if you grow rhododendrons. For pests, learn to identify various stages of the life cycle, recognize symptoms of damage, and know which management options are both effective and environmentally sound.
The next step is to study your landscape ecosystem. Your garden truly is an ecosystem with complex interrelationships among flora, fauna, soil, weather, and other factors. Be aware of climatic factors, such as minimum temperatures, the amount of sun received by various parts of your garden, prevailing winds, and seasonal patterns of precipitation. Understand soils and drainage patterns. This information is essential, because healthy gardens result from carefully matching plants to the habitats in your yard.
Landscapes are dynamic. Monitor them constantly to keep up with both seasonal and longterm changes. A key to any PHC program is frequent monitoring, at least every two weeks during the growing season and perhaps once a month during the winter. When monitoring, pay particular attention to signs of plant stress (yellow or wilted leaves, dead twigs, etc.), and be on the lookout for developing pest problems. Concentrate your monitoring on key plants and key problems.
With knowledge of your plants, potential problems, and the landscape ecosystem, you have the tools to optimize plant health. A healthy landscape starts with smart planning. Select pest resistant plant species, match plants to the existing climatic and soil conditions ("right plant, right place"), and include a diversity of plant species to limit infestations. Then employ good cultural practices: Improve soil conditions by using organic matter and mulches, practice correct planting methods, and pay careful attention to watering, fertilizing, and pruning (too much of the last three may be just as bad as too little). Sound cultural practices are the basis of a PHC program. They benefit any landscape, whether new or well-established.
If we promote total plant health, we avoid many problems (preventative medicine). Cultural and environmental problems are minimized, and healthy plants are better able to withstand insect or disease damage.
When monitoring indicates that pests require attention, PHC employs an IPM approach to manage them.
Initial Site Assessment:
Post construction,the process involves ongoing communication and education of the client. Our monitoring program visits are designed to pro-actively determine and address future needs or problems before they become expensive out of control issues.
Plant Health Care is an investment. It is recognition that careful pre-construction landscape planning and post construction care have immeasurable value. It requires commitment from the homeowner, contractor and the Plant Health Care provider.
Consumers expect a problem free healthy return on their initial landscape investment. They must be educated so they can understand that a pro-active role is necessary to maintain a healthy growing environment.