These days, human health practitioners are advocating wellness care, which is also called preventive care or holistic medicine. It’s a fact that early diagnosis and treatment can often result in less aggressive treatment and a more positive prognosis. The same is true for your landscape plants. For this reason, arborists and landscape contractors have embraced Plant Health Care (PHC).
According to the International Society of Arboriculture, the organization that funded the study that first defined PHC, the basic premise behind this care is quite simple. If a plant receives professional care on a regular basis, it will be less susceptible to insect infestations and disease attacks. As a result, natural defenses can be strengthened. Energy that would have been exerted on stress factors can be applied to building up defense systems. Just like human health, plant health improves when stress factors are removed from the environment and check-ups are performed regularly.
Here’s how a PHC program works. It begins with a Plant Health Care professional visiting your home. Typically, this professional will be an ISA Certified Arborist or a Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional. He/she will ask you questions to determine your expectations and to set priorities. The PHC professional will then inventory your plant material and take that data back to the office, where it is entered into a database. This database alerts the PHC pro to each plant’s needs and any pests that are likely to attack them.
From this data, the PHC pro can formulate a care plan, prioritize with you a treatment schedule and then implement it. PHC pros prefer to treat with natural remedies rather than chemicals. Treatment depends on the severity of any attack and your tolerance for a few bugs. The best remedy may be to do nothing but monitor its progress. Sometimes such problems go away naturally.
Monitoring is the key to a successful PHC program, so expect the pro to visit your home about once a month to check for any new pests and monitor the activity of existing pests. You will receive a report after each monitoring visit.
Plant Health Care, like human wellness care, is very individualistic. Each yard is different, every homeowner is different. Your desires and expectations are unique and not the same as your neighbors’. For this reason, every plan will be different even if you are neighbors and share the same problems.
There are a few things that you should be aware of when considering a PHC program. Natural controls may not wipe out a pest 100 percent. However, they will reduce their numbers. Hopefully, there will be more beneficial bugs to help control the bad bugs because the good bugs will not not killed right along with the bad bugs as they may be with chemical applications. Finally, the PHC pro may not apply anything during a visit. But this is a good thing. The fee you pay for monitoring visits is a professional fee, just like the fee you pay a physician. You are glad to pay the fee if he/she doesn’t find anything wrong with you. Besides, the cost of a PHC program is considerably less than the cost of reactive intervention.
Healthy plants naturally enhance their environment. A majestic, mature shade tree certainly looks nicer in the environment than a recently planted sapling. Mature plants also provide us with more oxygen, sequester more carbon, reduce more rainwater runoff, and provide more of every benefit than young plants. Maintaining healthy, mature plants is definitely less costly than removing dead, dying or diseased plants and replacing them with young, healthy plants.
Use the winter wisely to look into a Plant Health Care program to protect your valuable landscape. For more on Plant Health Care, click here.