“Garden Insurance- low premiums and no deductible policies are now available. Instant approval !!” – Trey Gardens

A robust complaint is overheard at a recent garden seminar: “Landscaping is too expensive for me to hire a professional.” Digging deeper, I discover that a lawncare provider is having to replace most of her shrubs and perennials every year for the past two years. This is Florida no less.  No wonder she’s upset. I give her my business card and tell her I have a garden insurance policy for her. She doesn’t understand my angle but calls for a consultation anyway. I share her concerns and tell her Nature doesn’t like do-overs and how she can reverse the trend on her property by moving from an annuals-planting scheme (replacing plants every year) to sustainable gardening (keeping the plants in top health for the long haul). Here’s part of what I shared:

Rule number 1:” Right plant in the right place” — which means either you or your plantspersons, apply scientific principles to what a plant needs, how to plant, and maintain them, for years of benefits, not months. Here’s a list of eight things to know before you start based on the most common mistakes I see from homeowners and lawncare companies alike:

  1. Test the soil with a simple soil testing kit (available at home and garden departments). A twenty-dollar investment will save time and money if your soil must have remediation–Know the soils’ nutrients and capacity to retain and drain water before you plant, is essential. Hire professional help if needed,
  2. Know the sun and shade proportions in all seasons. winter may be full sun; summer may be full shade.
  3. Remove the plant from the container and look for healthy and firm roots before you buy it.
  4. Dig holes twice as wide as the container they’re in, avoid planting too deeply.
  5. Use compost or leaf mulch mixed in with soil and top dress (except for orchids, cactus and succulents, most natives); 4 parts soil: 1 part compost is a good guideline
  6. Water the hole before you plant and subsequently more deeply (longer) and less often than is probably a habit.
  7. Prune away diseased, crossing branches with clean pruners (rubbing alcohol will do the trick) and discard (do not compost them).

Rule number two: Have FUN!! – learn on the job, ask questions from knowledgeable people, play music, dance, or whistle while you work. -your plants are going to sing!

Taking the time to become familiar with the basic principles of plant care will give you not only better insurance of garden health but will also provide dividends to keep you thoughtfully invested.

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