Friday, December 26, 2008

Landscape - Horticultural Ecosystems X

This is the last of the series on horticultural ecosystems in sustainable landscaping. Slides are from a presentation that I give on the subject.

Pest problems in the landscape result from a horticultural ecosystem that is out of balance. This often is due to lack of diversity in a landscape that leads to pest buildup. Use of plants that have noted pest problems should be reduced. Practice those methods that encourage the buildup of competitors or natural controls of pests. If pest control is necessary, practice integrated pest management and consider all options before using a pesticide.

Encouraging beneficial or benign organisms in the landscape can go a long way to reduce or eliminate pest problems. Strive for a balanced ecosystem. Understand those practices that can encourage these "good" organisms above ground and below ground.

It is critical to use native plant species as much as possible. These are well adapted plants that are important for wildlife and will help to develop a horticultural ecosystem that will function well in our area.

In the end, consider whether you want to fight natural forces or learn to take advantage of them. Highly managed horticultural systems with limited diversity and high maintenance species are costly and often do not succeed in the long term. Think of how your short term actions will end up in long term consequences. In landscape design make sure your vision includes the creation of a successful and healthy horticultural ecosystem. Strive to understand the interactions that occur in the landscape to help you make better decisions.

I hope this series has been helpful with those of you interested in sustainable landscaping.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent, UD, Kent County

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