There are many ways you can keep your garden balanced and healthy. Plants that are fit and strong have an easier time fighting off pests and disease. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Plant Healthy Plants
Start by taking a good look at the plants you intend to buy at the garden center. They should look lush and have clean foliage that isn’t wilted or yellowed. Look for insect or disease damage on leaves. Look for plant tags like American Beauties’ that have comprehensive information to help you be successful.
Pick the Right Plants
It’s always better to work with Mother Nature than against her. Look for native plants that naturally grow in a situation similar to what you have at home. There are native plants for every garden situation. Our native plant search will help you chose the most appropriate plants for your specific garden situation. Read more about dry shade and rain gardens.
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides can kill microorganisms in the soil that are critical to soil health. They also disrupt the natural cycle of all living things. Remember that without insects we wouldn’t have birds or butterflies. If you believe a pest or disease is out of hand, there are nontoxic alternatives such as oil, soap and pepper sprays.
Don’t walk in your garden beds. It greatly compacts the soil. The air in soil is an essential part of photosynthesis. It helps plants absorb nutrients and aids in root development, among many other important things. When preparing your beds for planting, begin at the furthest point and continue working while walking backwards. That way you don’t step on soil you’ve just tilled. If you need to walk into the beds and borders for weeding, try placing a few stepping stones around to minimize your impact.
Don’t Crowd Me
Plants need air in the soil and they need airflow around them too. Crowded plants create their own humidity, which allows diseases like powdery mildew, rust, and downy mildew to thrive. Better airflow allows foliage to dry more quickly and be less likely to suffer from foliar disease.
Don’t Work in Wet Soil
Working in soil that is wet will damage it’s structure and make it as hard as cement. Don’t do it! Enjoy your day off.
Add Compost and Use Organic fertilizers
Adding compost and organic matter improve soil structure and it’s ability to hold water and nutrients. It will also help the soil’s microorganisms to flourish and encourages worms to come and aerate and fertilize your soil. Organic fertilizers ensure that your plants are robust and can fight off pests and disease. Both of these products will help you keep your garden in balance. Read more about organic fertilizer and compost.
A diverse garden is going to include a good mixture of plants including perennials, trees, shrubs and grasses that will attract beneficial insects and animals. The greatest threat to biodiversity is habitat loss. You can do your part by creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat®. It isn’t hard, just provide food, shelter, water and a place for wildlife to raise their young. It will bring life to your garden!