Monday, February 13, 2012

Relationship Rule #2 for People and Gardens: Don’t Drown them with Love

deadrose In keeping with my Love theme for Valentine’s Day week, I am expounding on some of the rules that I wrote about a few years ago in my post The 12 Relationship Rules for Gardeners. Today’s rule: There is a fine line between showering with love and smothering with love.

In human relationships, everyone likes a little attention from their romantic partner. Certainly, none of us want to be ignored. But there is a fine line when just enough can become too much. And the tricky part is, the line is different for everyone, depending on just how much attention they require to thrive.

For me, a dozen roses and a fancy dinner at an elegant restaurant is almost too much attention. I had a boyfriend who once sent me three dozen roses for Valentine’s Day and, quite frankly, I probably could have bought groceries for a few weeks with the money he spent. On the other hand, a hand-written love note and a home-cooked dinner by candle light will keep nourishing the love in my heart for months!

The same principle can certainly be applied to gardens. Over-doing almost anything in the garden is a bad thing, from water, to fertilizer, to plants themselves.

So how do we know how much is too much? We get to know each other, really well.

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of  getting to know your garden and the site conditions of your landscape. Once you know your garden, you will better understand just how much of everything it needs to thrive.

How too much attention can harm your garden:

Over watering: Over watering is usually a death sentence for plants, especially when accompanied with poor drainage. Waterlogged soils limit oxygen uptake by plant roots, which in turn affects the plant's metabolism, nutrient uptake, water absorption and photosynthesis. Over watering causes runoff, which can wash harmful chemicals from your yard into natural water supplies. Over watering also wastes water resources and reduces water supplies.

Over fertilizing: Too much fertilizer can be harmful to the lawn and plants in your landscape.  Not only can it burn a plant’s roots and make the plant more vulnerable to insects and diseases but it  may lead to water pollution through run-off or leaching of nutrients. Excess fertilizer which finds its way into waterways can cause unsightly algal blooms which reduce oxygen, often resulting in fish kills.

Pesticide Use: In my opinion, any use of chemical pesticides is too much. Pesticides are usually indiscriminate, killing the good bugs as well as the bad bugs. They can also have harmful effects for humans and other forms of garden wildlife.

Over planting: Even the practice of overcrowding a garden can be harmful to your plants. Overcrowding can cause weak growth and reduce air movement, resulting in increased insect and disease problems.

So when it comes to your relationship with your garden, don’t be an obsessive lover. Get to know what it wants and needs and then shower it with just the right amount of affection. That’s the best way to keep your relationship growing!

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