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Things That Make Me Go Bonkers

There are any number of things horticulturally speaking that make me go bonkers when I analyze the situation. I thought I’d share with you some of those things that make no sense to me yet we habitually do them.

Probably the number one bonker for me is watching people irrigate freshly laid sod. Just so you know, sod might have a half inch or so of root when it comes from the sod farm. There is absolutely no reason to turn your landscape into a bog and saturate the soil to twelve or more inches for a very compromised root system. It’s a waste of water and money.
Rather I’d have gardeners initially irrigate to about two inches into the soil.

As the sod’s root system begins growing increase the time of irrigation to accommodate that growth. As I’ve mentioned before there is absolutely no reason to irrigate beyond twelve inches into the soil. Nearly 95% of all plants root systems lie in the first twelve inches. It has everything to do with lack of oxygen as you go deeper into the soil. Roots need oxygen as much as they need water.

Number two on my bonkers list is deep root fertilizing and irrigating. As I’ve just stated most of the roots of plants lie with in the first twelve inches of soil and that includes trees. Tree roots are very expansive. Research has shown that sixty percent of the mass of a tree is below ground and mostly in just the first twelve inches. It is known that tree roots can extend five to seven times the height of the tree away from the tree. Let’s put that into perspective: a fifty foot tree can have a root system that can expand outwards to 350 feet into the soil (7 X 50), all with in the first twelve inches.

So throw away the idea that deep root irrigating and fertilizing is good for trees. I would much prefer gardeners to irrigate over wide swaths of their landscape to support the water requirements of their trees; the same goes for fertilizing your trees.

Number three on my bonkers list is fertilizer companies’ insistence that fertilizer is plant food. Nothing could be further from the truth. Plants generate their own plant food through photosynthesis; the conversion of sunlight by plant chlorophyll into glucose is plant food. What fertilizer does do is provide nutrients for growth and fruit and flower development, but it is not plant food.

Lastly on my bonkers list comes via the ‘big chill’ from last November’s unprecedented drop in temperatures. Many landscape plants were not prepared for the switch from 70 degrees to minus 25 degrees. They hadn’t developed their antifreeze for the onslaught of winter. Essentially the water pipes of the plants froze and burst. They became unrepairable.

I’ve visited with any number of gardeners that insist that their beloved trees will come back to life and are giving them another year to see if they’ll green up. Alright, but just know that if the vascular system is shot there’s no way nutrients and water can be transported.


Throughout this site, the following are used as guidelines for watering established plants: