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23 10, 2019

What Should We Plant in Our Landscape?

By |2019-10-23T08:54:09-07:00October 23rd, 2019|Plant Selection, Sustainable Landscape Management, Training and Education|0 Comments

Wondering what plants to choose for your associations renovation? Register here for our seminar focusing on landscapes for HOA sites!

Topics include plant choices for specific areas, risk management in the landscape, landscape specifications and maintenance contracts, and a landscape walkthrough on site with Tiffany Faulstich of Botanicon and Brad Brown of Tree Life Consulting.

Fri. Nov. 15 11am-4pm at Stonecrest Village Recreation Center, 3110 W. Canyon Ave., San Diego CA 92123. See you there!

10 10, 2019

What Size Container Stock Should I Plant in my Landscape?

By |2019-10-10T12:59:59-07:00October 10th, 2019|Planning, Plant Selection, Trees|0 Comments

Bigger Plants Are Not Always Better

Because we are coming upon the best planting season of the year, fall, let’s talk about container plant sizes. Plant material comes in a range of container sizes, 1, 5 or 15 gallon, 24″, 36″ 48″ boxes and up, and some species come bare root in the winter.

The natural human instinct of instant gratification leads many clients to ask for larger sized container plant stock at initial installation. I can see why, you get an instant landscape without the wait. Many think, why plant a small tree when I can just get a more mature one installed without having to wait for it to grow?

For sites I consult on, I encourage clients to use the smallest container size possible. Here’s why…

  1. Establishes a supportive root system in native soil early on. Plant roots will leave the initial planting hole and seek water and nutrients in their permanent environment a lot faster and more efficiently from a smaller sized container.
  2. Research has shown that plants and trees from smaller container stock establish quicker and their growth outpaces larger container stock in a matter of 2-3 years.
  3. Less foreign material (potting soil) which is of different texture and moisture holding capacity than native soil.
  4. Less root circling and girdling from growing in a container for too long. These common maladies of container stock often spell a slow, painful decline and eventual death of the plant or tree.
  5. Easy to inspect the root systems in order to accept or reject the plants selected.
  6. Pruning and training plants and trees from a young age to develop a strong form, structure and shape. Nursery pruning of container stock often leads to growth defects and necessitates corrective or restorative pruning.
  7. Initial installation costs are much lower. Plant replacement cost years down the road are much lower from decline and death. And who does not like to save money in both the short and long term?

I have inspected many sites where I can just pull out the plant from the ground, where the roots never left the planting hole. Or sites where the tree just wiggles back and forth in the planting hole, with no structural or supportive roots venturing out into the native soil. These were all plants of large initial container size.

On the other hand, I have also planted bare root and 1 or 5 gallon trees and their growth 3 years after planting is far superior to any larger plant.

So, choose your species wisely to match the soil conditions of your site and plant the smallest plant possible. Be patient, your efforts will be rewarded with healthy, aesthetically pleasing and well shaped landscape trees and shrubs!

14 09, 2019

Fall is the Best Time for Landscape Planting

By |2019-09-14T17:38:10-07:00September 14th, 2019|Planning, Plant Selection, Sustainable Landscape Management|2 Comments

Callistemon - white

Establishing new landscape plantings is most successful if timed right

Here in San Diego and Southern California, we are coming up on the best season for planting landscape trees, shrubs, perennials, turf and ground covers. On large homeowner association, estate and municipal sites, it is difficult to have a good new plant establishment rate without extra care like additional watering and monitoring. That extra care takes time away from what the grounds staff is already responsible for maintaining on site.

If your property is investing in landscape plant upgrades, be sure you have a plan and schedule in place for fall planting. It will save your site money in plant replacement costs, extra water usage, and staff time devoted to plant “babysitting.”

Why is fall the best time for landscape planting?

  1. The days are shorter. Plants have less time to loose water via transpiration through their leaf surfaces, and soil moisture loss is decreasing.
  2. Temperatures are cooler. Plants will require less water less frequently than during hot days to maintain health and vigor.
  3. The angle of the sun is lower. Plant stress from direct, overhead hot sun rays is minimized.
  4. The soil is still warm. Plant roots will establish more rapidly in warmer soil vs. cool soil.
  5. The rain is coming (hopefully). Plant watering on a large scale is more efficient and of higher quality when provided by nature.

So time your landscape upgrades for fall, preferably after the first measurable rain to help flush salt accumulation from the soil. Your plants will establish roots better and suffer less stress if you plan ahead. Need a planting plan, consultation or project monitoring? Just ask!

2 08, 2019

Landscape Seminar For Property Managers and HOA Board Members

By |2019-08-02T16:54:05-07:00August 2nd, 2019|Sustainable Landscape Management, Training and Education|0 Comments

Pink flowering landscape shrub

Providing education regarding site landscaping and offering clients an opportunity to ask questions is very important to us. Botanicon is here to support you in managing one of the largest line items on a communities budget, the landscaped environment.

Our independent, third party landscape vendor management, horticultural consultation and quality assurance services benefit plants and people. We facilitate all aspects of site landscaping on behalf of our clients, and sharing knowledge helps us all do our jobs better.

In June, we hosted our 1st educational event HORT 101: Landscape Plants for Southern California Landscapes at the Water Conservation Garden. Attendees were led on a tour throughout the garden to view and discuss low maintenance, water conscious plants. They loved it and asked for more!

The tour was outstanding. Excellent information!

Great tour! I’d love to learn more about focused areas in the landscape – islands, slopes, entrances.

Knowledgeable speakers. How about more on best practices for HOA Boards and Landscapes?

Well, here you go! Our 2nd Landscape Seminar, HORT 102 is being held on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 11am-4pm. We will host property managers, HOA board and landscape committee members, developer and municipal land managers for an afternoon of education and opportunity. Location TBD, but somewhere in Central San Diego. So, save the date!

Topics? Attendees decide! What horticulture, landscape, tree or irrigation topics would benefit your community? Email or call us to be added to our interest list, and choose from some topics below or write in some of your own.

HORT 102 Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Which topics interest you?

  1. Plant Choices for Specific Areas
  2. Landscape Specifications-What’s in My Contract?
  3. Planning for the Future-Landscape Master Plan for Improvements
  4. Benefits of Urban Trees in a Community
  5. Increasing Site Sustainability
  6. Saving Water and Money Irrigating Landscapes
  7. Is that Turf Really Necessary, or Maintenance Intensive?
  8. Tree Succession and Replacement
  9. Ecosystem Buffers and Open Space Management
  10. Site Inventories – Measuring What You Manage
  11. Industry Standards of Care – Pruning and Planting
  12. Managing Risks in the Landscape
  13. Are We on the Same Page? Contractor Communication
  14. Importance of Mulch and Building Soil Health
  15. FILL IN – INDICATE SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT
Landscape Seminar October 4, 2019 for Property Managers, Board Members, Developer and Municipal Land Managers
Landscape seminar Topics: Attendees Choose!

16 07, 2019

What to Look For in an Irrigation Inspection?

By |2019-07-16T09:11:54-07:00July 16th, 2019|Sustainable Landscape Management|0 Comments

Irrigation sprinkler head watering turf

3 Items for Visual Inspections of Landscape Irrigation

Landscape water use is a big concern here in Southern California. It is a very hot topic with many facets. Water costs a lot of money here, and without oversight, can be a source of complaints, liability and cost over-runs for Homeowner Associations, site users and communities. Landscape managers must be experts at proactive water management! We need to spot coverage issues before they become problems. We identify plant stress from too little water, sometimes from far away at 25 mph! We must also quickly identify over-watering signs like certain weed species growing, erosion or algae.

Irrigation systems should be turned on regularly by to check for issues. This should be in your landscape maintenance contract. Many of the small repairs are within the scope of the on-site contractors agreement, others require an extra work proposal. What does your communities landscape maintenance contract say with regards to irrigation? How specific is the language?

Because July is Smart Irrigation Month, here are some things we look for when conducting site irrigation inspections.

  1. Mainline components
    • Controller – programmed correctly, battery functional, map and written schedule present, each station operates electrically, signs of animal intrusion in housing
    • Valves – check for leakage, seepage, signs of animal intrusion in boxes, watertight connectors and solenoid connections functional
    • Wiring – broken wires, corrosion
    • Sensors – operational and correctly wired
    • Backflow prevention – check for leakage, note inspection date
    • Pressure regulator – operational and set to correct psi
  2. Plantings & hydrozones
    • Plantings – symptoms of drought or over-watering, water hitting trunks and pooling, sprinklers blocked by large plants
    • Soil – excessive thatch in turf, mulch needed, soil type and infiltration
    • Hydrozones – exposure correct for zone, plantings in groups of like water requirements according to station
  3. Lateral line components
    • Pipes – signs of breaks or leakage
    • Heads – correct spacing, same head on each valve, sunken heads, tilted heads, low head drainage
    • Nozzles – matched precipitation nozzles, correct spray pattern, blockages, over-spray, unequal discharge, pressure
    • Drip – filters cleaned, pressure correct, even water distribution, clogged emitters

We hope this helps your community manage its water resources and protect the investment you have made in site irrigation. In all my years in the landscape industry, I can say that irrigation issues are the number one cause of landscape plant problems. Protecting landscape assets for stakeholders is what we specialize in. Need an irrigation inspection? Contact us!

2 07, 2019

5 Takeaways From Our Garden Tour

By |2019-07-02T18:29:40-07:00July 2nd, 2019|Planning, Plant Selection, Training and Education|0 Comments

Botanicon leads tour of the Water Conservation Garden

A couple weeks ago Botanicon led a tour of the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon, CA. Our focus was educating HOA Board members and Property Managers on low maintenance, water wise plant choices for their communities. And who doesn’t like to get outside and look at beautiful plant specimens? Thank you to all who attended and sponsored our event.

  • Weeping bottlebrush
  • Protea flowers
  • Toyon
  • Mesquite tree
  • Pink melaleuca
  • Grevillea cultivars
  • Acacia 'Cousin Itt'

8 06, 2019

What is Wrong With My Plant?

By |2019-07-10T14:48:57-07:00June 8th, 2019|Plant Selection, Sustainable Landscape Management, Training and Education|1 Comment

Diagnosing Landscape Plant Problems

All landscapes have plant health issues which arise. A question I am often asked is what is going on and how do I fix it? Some landscape plant health concerns are easy to identify, an aphid infestation for example. Often times issues have more than one causal agent. Abiotic factors many times will lead to biotic issues. Right plant, right place is applicable here.

An abiotic factor is a causal agent which is non-living, such as watering, soil conditions, chemical use, aeration, mechanical damage, etc. Biotic causal agents are living organisms, such as whiteflies, oak root rot, bacterial leaf scorch.

In order to fix the plant problem, it is critical to have an accurate diagnosis. Just like a medical doctor would do during a patient visit, many questions need to be asked and answered for us to be confident about what is going on. Ineffective treatments arise from inaccurate diagnoses.

Because plants and trees can not tell us what is going on, like a medical patient would, we need to ask lots of questions and look for answers to determine a diagnosis. What are the symptoms? A symptom is the plants reaction to a causal agent – stunting, chlorosis, spots, tissue death. Are there signs? Signs are a physical presence of a pest – excrement, casings, mushrooms, frass.

Questions about the plants location, species susceptibility, care, environment, irrigation, planting methods, etc. need to be answered. We are investigators looking for clues to point us towards a diagnosis. Then a treatment plan can be formulated.

Using a systematic, methodical, question based approach is the only way to approach diagnosing landscape plant problems with confidence. Here is a slide show I presented at a recent seminar which outlines the process. Need a consultation and diagnosis? Just ask us!

14 05, 2019

Nice Plant Selection #2

By |2019-05-14T19:26:37-07:00May 14th, 2019|Plant Selection, Trees|0 Comments

A Great Small Tree Selection for Spring Blooms

Tired of seeing the same trees being used over and over again? Tree species diversity is important to the urban forest, so let’s mix up the planting palette. Chionanthus retusus, or Chinese fringe tree, is blooming here in San Diego, and what a show! I took these photos about a week ago when I hit the brakes at the sight of these blooms.

This tree is useful in the landscape because of it’s small size at maturity, less than 25′. Although it is not drought tolerant, it is useful for patios, lawn and garden settings. It’s striking show of fragrant white flowers in spring-summer is followed by yellow fall color and small red berries which attract birds. Chinese fringe tree grows in clay to loam soils in full sun or part afternoon shade in warmer areas. Another tree I love to see growing and being planted!

SelecTree. “Chionanthus retusus Tree Record.” 1995-2019. May 14, 2019.
< https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/chionanthus-retusus >