Many people have organic landscaping on their minds. Often times folks want to either 1) reduce chemical exposure to children and pets or 2) landscape in a more eco-friendly way. No matter the reasons you can have a beautifully maintained landscape without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemical compounds. In Portland, Oregon this can sometimes be a struggle with the damp environment our outdoors provides. You can enjoy your organic landscape without sacrificing a well-groomed look. You too can be an expert on organic landscaping in Portland Oregon by following these 8 steps steps to start your landscape off right!
Having your soil tested is highly recommended to ensure the success of your organic landscaping program. There are 3 common tests used to determine the full scope of your soil structure. Here is a brief overview of the benefits of each test.
Often times, imbalanced soil nutrients are the root cause of lawn/plant disease and excessive weeds. Restoring and maintaining the soil nutrient cycle is the heart of any organic landscape program. The benefits of this approach include improved nutrients, moisture availability/retention, disease suppression, aeration, and degradation of harmful pollutants achieved through a non-chemical process. The soil tests performed will determine the amendments needed for your soil. EXPERT TIP: Adding mycorrhizae and compost can restore beneficial fungi and bacteria.
If you are not composting food scraps (don't let the city of Portland have your compost) and yard debris, get busy now. Compost is like gold to organic landscapers. You can add this nutrient rich amendment to your soil which aids in a thriving environment for beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoa. There are many ways to compost; including, hot composting, cold composting and compost tea (each serve different purposes).EXPERT TIP: In general, turf, perennials and grasses thrive with higher bacterial concentrations; while trees and shrubs benefit from higher fugal concentrations.
Having a lush, green lawn is possible with organic gardening. However, it will be more labor intensive than traditional lawn maintenance; therefore, preventative measures are very important. Here our 3 keys steps in keeping an organic lawn healthy:
Letting a lawn get too wet, invites disease, letting a lawn dry out and become dormant, invites weeds. This is can be seen in lawns allowed to go dormant; often the thriving parts of the lawn are the weeds. Keeping your lawn properly irrigated with choke out weeds and encourage growth of grass.EXPERT TIP: Consider a sub-drip irrigation system. Sub-drip system's are highly effective and eco-friendly-reducing watering time to mere minutes per day.
Weed control is the often the biggest struggle in an organic landscape. You can choose a pre-emergant weed control. Corn gluten is often used for this, however please note once applied it is unsightly. Organic methods of controlling weeds are:
EXPERT TIP: Apply bark at a minimum depth of 2" for weed control, 2.5" is preferred. If you are being quoted on installation make sure you ask the depth of the quoted bark is.
Planting native plants is key to any organic landscape. We have all seen an english ivy take over, which looks like yard is being consumed, or mint spreading like wild fire. It is very important to compile a list of native plants to use in your landscape. Don't let your landscape undergo a hostile plant takeover, using native plants reduces unwanted spreading and excess need for weeding. If you want to plant fast growing/spreading plants such as mint, use pots or raised beds to control their spread. Check out our blog on 4 invasive species to never plant by clicking here.
Correct pruning, planting and placement of plan material is essential to organic gardening. The following are a few techniques to ensure your landscape gets a good start:
By now the thought of organic landscaping should bring a smile to your face. The main take-away of this post, which is essential in maintaining a healthy organic landscape is, prevention! Taking preventative steps will keep unnecessary cleanup and lost plant material to a minimum. Trying to salvage a landscape is much more difficult than keeping one up.If you think you could use a hand getting a jump start on this task, contact us today!