“It All Starts in the Soil”
Vibrant soil is the lifeblood of healthy plants. Plants, shrubs and trees need nutrients, moisture and air circulation to thrive. Unhealthy soil devoid of nutrients and organic matter cannot provide for the long term needs of plants and causes greater stress during periods of heat and drought.
Sussex Conservation District website defines soil health as “the continued capacity to function as a vital living ecosytem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Good soil health is a cornerstone of economic and environmental sustainability”.
Effective marketing campaigns have taught us to reach for quick-fix chemical fertilizers that are short-lived and do nothing to encourage optimum growing environments. Recommended treatments provide a boost of nutrients designed to dissipate over a specific period of time. Hence, these treatments must be reapplied every 6-8 weeks. Expensive reapplications keep a plant green or blooming, but do nothing to build beneficial soil organisms.
Improving soil is the only way to ensure environmental sustainability on multiple fronts.
Newly Constructed Homes
Sussex County is experiencing sweeping changes with the growth of housing communities on land that was previously farmed. Homeowners inherit a plethora of soil issues on reworked land.
- Long-term chemical fertilizer and pesticide applications on large tracts of farm land have rendered the soil nearly inert. Pesticide applications efficiently eliminated crop predators, but ended up eradicating all other insects including beneficial organisms.
- The new construction process begins with the clearing of weeds, trees and other features on a property that does not fit the new footprint. Large equipment levels the land and strips off the top soil. The remaining barren subsoil from a basement or crawlspace is left for homeowners to deal with. It cannot solely sustain plantings without soil amendments..
- Construction debris may be lurking underground after construction activities come to a close. Debris, stones and other materials create a hard-packed medium where not much will grow because it impedes natural root growth. Plant roots cannot spread out, nutrients are not available for uptake and there are no beneficial organisms to invigorate life.
- Plant, shrub and tree roots grow deeply into the soil. A dressing of 1-2 inches of topsoil is not enough correct sterile soil and support new plantings.
- Weed pressure may still be present on fields that were previously meadowland. Weed seeds can be deeply imbedded into the soil.
Soil quality deteriorates over time if it does not receive regular inputs of organic elements. Adding an inch of compost every year will positively sustain a living ecosystem.
Compost can be applied in one of two ways:
- Apply compost on top of last year’s mulch before a new layer of mulch is installed.
- Rake back existing mulch, add compost then rake the mulch in place.
Overgrown shrubs tend to ‘date’ a property. Sometimes the best course of action is to have a new course of action to remove old growth to update the look, feel and maintenance needs of a property. New plant material need not be prohibitively expensive if young plant material is selected.
SIMPLIFY FOR LOW MAINTENANCE.
Landscape design has evolved over the years just as activity levels of everyday life increased. Little time is left for the hassle of twice-a-year hedge trimming or constant watering of tender items.
Consider exploring drought-tolerant native plants, perennials, hardy shrubs and/or screening options to minimize maintenance and water usage. Use rain-sensing targeted irrigation.
A new, simplified design has the potential to decrease overall outdoor maintenance demands.
Additionally, explore decorative stone in interesting colors, sizes and configurations as an alternative to annual refreshes of hardwood mulch.
Change customer perceptions by sprucing up your business with a simple, updated and uncluttered look of healthy plants with low maintenance needs. It may just be the key to capturing the attention of local passersby and new customers.
FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME
Fall is the perfect time to improve soil health. Processes that begin in the fall will keep multiplying during the winter months to support a burst of bloom in the spring.
A light topping of mulch is beneficial for planting beds to moderate cold soil temperatures and provide a consistently moist environment that will effectively sustain plant material.
CONTACT US TODAY
Let our experienced staff figure it out what your gardens need and recommend a healthy course of action to get moving in the right direction.
Grizzly’s Landscape Supply & Services
14680 Coastal Highway
Milton, DE 19968