Striking a balance between your wants and needs is essential to a happy, healthy relationship with your garden.
The bond between humans and plants is as ancient as the history of our species. As we have evolved, so too have our relationships with plants. Our cities, families, and homes play host to more than just people. Odds are your property is a shared space for both humans and plants.
Everyone maintains a unique connection with plants around them — whether you’re dragging your hose around in the moonlight, whispering sweet nothings to your plants or battling a persistent hackberry growing from your foundation. Or maybe your involvement extends no further than outsourcing their care. Either way, maintaining any relationship requires commitment, compromise and communication.
The first step in any relationship is attraction. Simply being enamored by the allure of exotic tropical flora doesn’t mean you should ask them to move in. For instance, the extravagant canna lily is a poor match for the demure cenizo due to their disparate water needs. Native plants are adapted to our tough soils and unforgiving weather.
Communication is key.
Are you listening to what your landscape is telling you? Sometimes your plants are trying to tell you they just need space. If they’re wilting in the morning, show them a little love with water. But showering plants or your lawn with excessive water affection can smother them. If your plants are yellowing, it could be a sign of too much water.
Killing with kindness?
Trees like some mulch, but that doesn’t mean they require a hefty 10-inch mound around their base. Water is essential, but those bubblers next to the trunk don’t foster root expansion. Are you pruning annually? Dial it back, Romeo. Are your newly planted trees getting adequate support? Tree straps and posts can be helpful, but if left on too long they’ll cut straight to the heart (and the cambium layer). While these injuries may not spell instant doom, they will shorten the lifespan of the tree. Rather than offering you shade, they may very well smash all the windows of your vehicle in the middle of the night.
Remember the blissful beginnings of that lush St. Augustine? Well, the honeymoon is over. That thirsty, luscious grass may not be the best match anymore. Don’t cling to a toxic relationship because breaking up is hard to do.
Recognizing the value of compromise and striking a balance between your wants and needs are essential to a happy, healthy relationship with your landscape.