A natural plant care regimen consists of planting the right plant in the right place, building and maintaining healthy soil and using smart watering practices. Following these guidelines, plants thrive and are less susceptible to pest, disease and weed problems, naturally.
Plant the Right Plant for the Right Place
- Get to know your garden’s soil, sun, shade and wind patterns to make informed plant choices.
- As you choose plants for your garden, keep in mind their requirements and select accordingly.
- Gather information regarding mature plant size to avoid crowding out other plants or creating conflicts with buildings, walkways or power lines.
Build and Maintain Healthy Soil Conditions
- Before planting a new garden, amend lifeless garden soil with compost to increase soil fertility and boost beneficial soil life while improving drainage.
- Mulch established planting beds with organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings, wood chips or compost in the spring and/or the fall. Mulch slowly feeds the soil, suppresses weed growth, attracts beneficial soil life and helps retain moisture in hot summer months.
- Avoid synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. These chemicals have a detrimental effect on soil life and its fertility. Choose natural methods for pest, disease and weed control, and apply organic fertilizers that boost soil life and release nutrients slowly.
- Top-dress established lawns twice a year with a layer of compost ¼ to ½ inch thick which feeds the lawn and mitigates soil compaction in high traffic areas.
- Aerate heavily used lawns in the spring. Aeration decreases soil compaction and encourages healthy lawn growth.
- Water plants deeply and less frequently rather than regularly applying small amounts. This encourages deeper root growth and soils will retain available moisture for a longer period of time.
- Decrease evapotranspiration rates by watering in the evening or early morning and place the water source close to the roots.
- Mulch garden beds with organic matter to prevent moisture loss and increase the soil’s water holding capacity.
- Water new plants regularly the first couple of growing seasons in order to establish strong root systems and guard against drought stress.
- Avoid watering established trees and shrubs unless it is particularly dry; mature plants are more susceptible to disease when over-watered.
- Apply 1 inch of water to lawns every week in the summer to prevent weeds from getting the upper hand in the heat of summer.