Now that you have determined that your plant choice will make it through winter, the next most important factor in having a “green” landscape is soil. How do you know what kind of soil you have? The Natural Resource Conservation Service has an online soil survey or you can go into their office at 1412 Celebrity Drive. The survey gives you the overall characteristics of your soil. For information on soil pH and other essential elements, get a soil test available through the LSU AgCenter. You can pick up the kit at 307 N. Homer St. in Ruston. When test results come back, the County Agent, Gary Stockton, will go over them with you if you wish. You are on your way to having a “green” landscape. The soil test will help you know how much fertilizer to use, whether you should lime the soil, or add sulfur for the blueberries. ‘Guess and by gosh’ fertilization wastes time, money and pollutes waterways. Plants only use as much as they need. The rest washes away.
Enjoy the shade of towering oaks. Allow the moss to grow around them. Grass is a creature of sunny open spaces. Like Goldilocks, plants need everything just right to thrive. We cannot make them grow where they are not suited. More fertilizer is not the answer.
Only a hint of beautiful flowers appears on those shrubs that are rounded over into meatballs to make them fit their space. Hauling off trimmings every month adds to pollution and increases costs. Give a plant enough room to grow to its mature size. The only trimming should be for the health of the plant or to increase production of flowers or fruit, not to make a giant a dwarf. A frequently trimmed plant is more susceptible to pest problems and needs more moisture and fertilizer.
Plants that are adapted to growing conditions in north central Louisiana have few pests. Add native plants. The oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, is just one of the many beautiful shrubs native to Louisiana.
Southern Living, Gardening with Native Plants of the South and Gardening in the Humid South are three of my favorite references.
Be successful at “green” landscaping. Make sure the plants have a Southern accent.
This article was submitted by Lynn Lorenson, Lincoln Parish Master Gardener.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture