[Image: aphids on roses]
News Release Distributed 02/28/14
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – One of the programs the LSU AgCenter offers is “Louisiana Yards and Neighborhoods.” It was developed several years ago as an educational program to teach home gardeners about sustainable landscaping and home horticulture practices.
The program focuses on seven landscape principles – the right plant for the right place, water efficiently, maximize mulching and recycling, fertilize efficiently, manage pests, protect surface water and wetlands, and provide for beneficial wildlife.
The “right plant, right place” motto is frequently heard in horticultural circles these days. This simply advocates matching the plant to its location. Consider sun exposure at the planting site and the sun/shade recommendation for the plant. The same holds with soil drainage, pH and other factors. We also need to give serious consideration to mature plant height and mature plant spread as well. Many times shrubs and trees are planted too close together and become overgrown in a short period of time.
Watering efficiently is another principle. We need to know the irrigation requirements of all the plants in our landscape. For example, what irrigation is needed for our different lawn grasses? Centipede grass is less drought-tolerant than others. Water deeply and infrequently when irrigating instead of watering shallowly and frequently.
Using mulch in the landscape is one of the best things we can do to suppress weed growth and replenish landscape beds with new organic material. Mulch bedding plants to a depth of 1 inch, shrubs to a depth of 2 inches and trees to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Go “out with mulch” – do not go “up with mulch.” The best mulch in Louisiana is pine straw.
Fertilizing efficiently follows the watering efficiently concept. Know the nutrient demands of all the plants in your landscape. Use slow-release fertilizers instead of quick-release and water-soluble fertilizers. Know your native soil fertility. Enough nutrients may be present in your soil so fertilizer applications can be reduced. Apply fertilizer at the time of year when the plant can maximize its use.
Managing yard pests is an important component of successful landscape management. Where to begin with this topic? We need to remember that we have more beneficial insects than damaging insects. Know which is which. Insect problems in Louisiana include azalea lace bugs, scales, white fliers, aphids and thrips among others. Scout your landscape plants once a week to check for insect problems.
Protecting surface water and waterways involves urban stormwater. Be careful when applying fertilizers and pesticides. Do not allow these products to move into water bodies. Also, when mowing grass, do not blow leaves, grass clippings and debris into the street. Proper landscaping and lawn maintenance can help reduce these possible pollutants.
We can do much in a landscape to provide for beneficial wildlife, frequently with native plants. Many people are interested in attracting songbirds, as well as hummingbirds and butterflies, into their landscape. If you’re interested, you can select appropriate plants for this purpose.
You can see details on the Louisiana Yards and Neighborhoods program at the LSU AgCenter here.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.