Plant Health Care (PHC)
Plant Health Care is an emerging landscape management tool that uses a pro-active and holistic approach to managing tree and shrub health. The goal is to obtain and maintain a healthy growing environment. The results are healthier plants and better aesthetics. Techniques have been developed to help change the ‘crisis management’ approach to landscape management.
Plant Health Care takes the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) pest and disease management to a new level by paying special attention to the growing environment. Site management begins with a thorough site assessment, both above and below ground. An entire site inventory can be taken locating trees and shrubs. Their current health status will be described and environmental conditions are noted. Key trees and shrubs are identified, sources of stress are identified and changes if required are recommended and an annual treatment plan is put into place.
The same principles of human health management are used in Plant Health Care:
- Preventive care for stress management
- Frequent monitoring
- Early detection of problems
- Informed decision making
- Integrated treatments to provide long-term, stable solutions
- And contact and communication with client
Timely visits and record keeping enable a Plant Health Care Program to offer many advantages.
- Pest problems may be recognized and treated early on before they advance and adversely affect tree health
- Disease problems can be diagnosed and in many cases, treated before causing irreversible damage
- Safety issues can be recognized possibly preventing future injury
Growing environment issues can be recognized and changes can be implemented to either reverse decline, or to maintain good tree health and vigor. Simple but effective examples of Plant Health Care are:
- Mulching bare soil beneath tree canopies
- Not allowing mulch to contact tree or shrub trunks
- Mitigating soil compaction
- Correct irrigation cycles
- Correct water placement
- Matching water needs of trees to adjacent plants
- Establishing and maintaining nutrient and soil microbiology components
Proper plant selection, site placement, and plant cultural compatibility issues should all be taken into account during the design phase and in landscape improvements. Where conflicts exist, the PHC professional must consider making changes.
It may be necessary to remove or change the location of certain plants in order to match cultural requirements or to prevent problems such as root interference with landscape hardscape elements. A common mistake is to plant a tree with shallow aggressive roots near hardscape features such as sidewalks, driveways or other pathways. For several years everything appears fine. Then as this tree matures, roots begin to upheave the hardscape features nearby. Not only does this look unsightly, but liability may become an issue. Be careful which trees you choose, as certain species are notorious for causing root damage.
Another example: When plants with high water requirements are located near plants adapted to a Mediterranean climate, cultural conflicts occur which may lead to decline caused by conditions that lead to pest or disease establishment. Naturally occurring pathogenic fungal organisms in the soil may be triggered by over-watering during summer months. Knowledge of the cultural conditions and growing environment management is key to long-term preservation of specimen trees in the integrated landscape.
Plant Health Care Management Program
1 – Environmental analysis of the site
- Soil pH
- Plant available soluble fertility components
- Soil microbiology status
- Soil drainage
- Soil compaction
- Define site micro-climates
- Determine exposure
2 – Defining the physical characteristics of the site:
- Site plan with property boundaries, structures, other characteristics plotted
- Location of utility cables and pipes
- Definition of view corridors
3 – Plant inventory
- Inventory major trees and shrubs
- Assessment of the relationship of tree and shrub locations
- Detailed description of health conditions
- Detailed description of physical conditions
- Urgent treatment recommendations
- Treatment and care strategies
- Treatment timing schedules
We are available to provide Plant Health Care services in:
Aptos, Capitola, Foster City, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monterey, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Jose, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, Scotts Valley, Soquel, Watsonville, Woodside and more…..call us