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Are You Unintentionally Damaging Your Yard AND the Environment?

by BROOKE GOLD HASSON | Apr 17, 2015

Are You Unintentionally Damaging Your Yard AND the EnvironmentWhen it comes to landscaping, many homeowners fall victim to common maintenance mistakes that “seem” helpful at first, but may actually cause severe harm to their yards, and the environment as a whole.

In celebration of Earth Day, here’s what NOT to do when maintaining your Florida yard.

Mistake # 1: Over-Watering Plants

How much water do you really need to keep your plants looking happy and healthy? The answer is likely less than you think, and oftentimes, giving your plants too much water can actually hurt or kill them. Common side effects of over-watered plants include wilted, light green or yellow leaves, stunted growth and premature blossoming.

Mistake #2: Using Synthetic Fertilizers

While they may help your plants grow faster, synthetic fertilizers contain pesticides and herbicides that harm the environment more than they help your landscaping. A big problem with synthetic fertilizers is chemical runoff. Following watering or heavy rain, these chemicals can run off your lawn and into nearby natural water sources, polluting the water and causing significant harm to marine life.

Not only can synthetic fertilizers harm the environment, but they may pose a potential harm to your family, too. According to the National Institutes of Health, people exposed to certain pesticides may have an increased risk of developing cancer. To avoid risk of exposure, opt for organic fertilizer that does not contain synthetic chemicals. 

Mistake #3: Improper Tree Trimming

Poor tree trimming methods can severely damage your trees, and in effect, the environment. Here are some of the most common tree trimming mistakes homeowners make:

Tree Topping: Topping refers to the cutting of tree branches to reduce the size of a tree when it becomes too large. However, this is not a sustainable size reduction method. Instead of allowing for new growth, tree topping weakens the structural strength, gradually killing the tree.

Cutting Too Close to the Trunk: Cutting close to the trunk removes the tree’s branch collar, a vital area of tissue that contains specialized cells to heal wounds. Cutting off this area allows debris and germs to get in, and makes it hard for the tree to heal from infection. 

Poor Timing for Pruning: Timing is key when it comes to tree pruning and should be done after your tree’s seasonal growth. This reduces sap loss and stress to the tree, and lowers the risk of fungus infection or insect infestation.

Mistake #4: Harvesting Exotic Plants

While they may look lovely in your yard, harvesting foreign plants from another state or country is not necessarily a good idea. Many exotic plants are not able to thrive in Florida’s hot, humid climate. If they overcome this obstacle and adjust to the environment, they can affect the wildlife around them, spreading with no natural control or constraint.

For example, the Melaleuca tree was introduced to South Florida more than 100 years ago and quickly displaced native vegetation across the Everglades. To limit it from spreading, scientists had to release non-native insects to feed on its leaves and buds. Nearly 20 years later, the trees are finally showing some signs of restraint.