Friday, November 23, 2007

Landscape and Turf - Drought Effects, Educate Your Clients

From a business perspective, client education is very important for long term customer retention. The drought this past year is a good example where you need to inform your customers of future problems to expect related to the severe plant stress this past summer. Take your clients around the landscape and point out problem areas as they relate to the drought stress. The following is an article on the subject.

Of all the problems this season, the drought will have had the most long lasting effect on the landscapes you service. The potential effects of past droughts may not be seen for several years. Be sure to discuss this with clients, and use this knowledge in making decisions about the future, since plants that succumbed to drought must be replaced, and other plants may not show symptoms for months (to years). Take notice where the driest areas are and plan changes to better prepare that area to weather the next drought. If changes are not made, those areas are where future problems are more likely to show up in existing plantings. Trees and shrubs become more susceptible to diseases and insects under drought stress, and these pests will probably attack again next season. For example: Canker diseases which attack now, may not kill off the branch for several years. Borers that laid eggs this season may weaken the tree for several seasons before major damage or symptoms occur. Taking note of the condition of the trees and shrubs this fall can be a good indication of their future potential survival. Examine such plant features as dormant bud health and the distance between terminal bud scars on branches/twigs. If the distance between terminal bud scars is consistently smaller for each of the past few years, then the tree/shrub is undoubtedly experiencing a “declining downward spiral” and may not have the ability to recover.

Article by Steven K. Rettke, Ornamental IPM Program Associate in the Plant and Pest Advisory, Landscape, Nursery, and Turf Edition, Rutgers University.

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