Get the Facts about Good Gardening

By Piskor, Steve | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 29, 2016 | Go to article overview

Get the Facts about Good Gardening


Piskor, Steve, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Years ago, gardeners relied almost solely upon the knowledge of previous generations. Today, information about the optimal cultivation of plants comes from traditional print, websites and blogs, podcasts and television shows. Advertisements tout "superior" plants or products that will make your garden the envy of the neighborhood.

Regardless of the source, gardeners must ask if the information accurate? Can it be a myth that persists despite scientific knowledge to the contrary? Should it be buried in the gardening graveyard of questionable information? Myths may have no basis in science. They may be tied to products with no benefit to the consumer, and they may ultimately harm the plant.

As gardening season is now upon us, here are some gardening myths that have endured for decades:

1. An annual spreading of mulch creates a more perfect garden.

This ritual is one of the worst landscaping activities. Tree health can be greatly impacted by the use of excess mulch. Annual piling of mulch at the base of a tree creates a moist environment promoting rotting of the bark. Rotted bark provides an entrance for insects and disease. Excess mulch also provides a home for mice, moles, voles and other rodents, allowing them to gnaw the bark off the tree and gain access to the living tissue that intact bark is intended to protect. Tree roots will grow upwards into the mulch, creating roots that may encircle or "girdle" the bark at the base of the tree. Girdling roots lead to compression of the bark and the eventual strangulation of living tissue under the bark. Over a course of months or years this process will lead to the decline and possible death of the tree.

NOTE: All trees become wider at the base, an area called the root flare. The root flare must always be visible, whether the tree is newly planted or long established. If the root flare is not visible, the tree base has been over-mulched, or the tree has been planted too deeply. Be sure to check that containerized trees have a visible root flare.

2. …

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