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Reactive Vs. Proactive Tree Care

Plant Health Care. This is a term you will probably be hearing more about in the months to come. The whole idea of a plant health care (PHC) program for your valuable landscape plants is something you may want to think about for several reasons that I'll get back to in a bit.

Historically, most tree and plant treatments have been reactive. A tree starts to look like it may not be doing so well. The foliage may be sparse, or something appears to be eating the tree. Leaves are falling off in the summer, or sections of the tree are dying out. Once we notice one or more of these symptoms, then we call for help. This is reactive tree care. Now don't get me wrong, some problems can pop up rather quickly and there is no choice but to react. A severe storm deposits a tree on your roof, you react. 80 million aphids decide to make your tree the site of their next dinner buffet, you react.

If you have thought about your personal health much, you are probably doing a few things differently than you did in the past. Shedding those extra pounds, adding some more exercise to the daily routine, watching what you eat, taking your vitamins, and getting a physical checkup on a regular basis are prudent measures to look after your personal health. A healthy body is better able to fight off infections and to heal quickly when wounded.

The same principles apply to plants. After all, they are living things too. A plant health care (PHC) program incorporates these same principles for the long term health of your valuable trees and plants . If you have made a substantial investment in your landscape, or you only have one nice shade tree in the yard that came with the house, a planned program of care can make sure they are around and thriving for many years to come.

A proactive plant health care program can involve several different treatments if needed. A specialized spring and fall fertilization are the foundation of a PHC program. Another key element is regular site inspections. With concern about pesticide and chemical treatments, you only want to have done what is truly needed. The days of coming in and spraying everything in the yard every year just because, are fading away quickly. A trained PHC specialist can make site-specific recommendations for only the treatments that are necessary.

I frequently have people tell me that they tried to treat a problem themselves, only to find out they used the wrong product or, they used the right product at the wrong time. In either case, the treatments are ineffective, and the problem persists.

Just like a healthy body, a healthy tree or plant is better able to cope with occasional problems that may arise. Most pests and diseases attack plants that are weak and stressed. A customized Plant Health Care program is something you should consider.

Russell Hodge is a Certified Arborist and can be reached at (219) 942-2213 or by e-mail at certifiedarborist@verizon.net.


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