Thursday, December 18, 2008

Landscape - Horticultural Ecosystems VII

This is a continuation of the series on viewing the landscape as a horticultural ecosystem. Slides are from a presentation that I give on the subject.

As you add plants to a landscape you will alter the horticultural ecosystem. Light conditions will change over time with trees and large shrubs. These larger plants will also modify exposures to wind and reduce heat loads. Microclimates around plants are determined by the plants selected and their growth patterns. Plants will also provide food for the microbial community and for wildlife. In the end, the horticultural ecosystem will develop specific complimentary microbial communities in the soil and canopy and certain complimentary animal components from earthworms in the soil to birds in the landscape.

Horticultural ecosystems will be impacted by changes in terrain, changes in light, soil disturbance, soil modification, exposures (wind and temperature), movement of water (drainage), microclimate effects (humidity for example), and interactions with microbes and animals.

On the slide above, take time to consider what the effect will be by the actions listed. For example, the addition of compost to a soil will modify the soil conditions greatly and will positively impact plant growth. In contrast, adding a paved driveway will raise temperatures nearby and negatively impact plant growth.

I will continue with this series in future posts.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County

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