Plant Health Care, also called PHC, offers a total health approach to landscape and plant health. Traditional landscape pest control programs rely on cover sprays. The pest control sprays offered to the client are based on the company’s knowledge of common pest problems and control measures in the service area. The cover spray type, method, and timing are pre-determined by the company. The client may have the option to choose from a number of pest control programs based on the client’s priorities. Traditional pest control programs are not necessarily obsolete or bad for the environment and may be the best option for clients who have overriding concerns about program cost or are only concerned about one specific pest problem. In contrast, plant health care technicians consider the landscape as a whole when deciding how to best care for plants. PHC technicians control plant problems through careful monitoring of the landscape environment. Chemical controls may be part of the treatment but they are not necessarily used in every treatment.The PHC technician maintains landscape plants by:
- evaluating the landscape
- noting actual or potential causes of plant stress
- maintaining plant performance through proper cultural practices
- investigating the landscape through monitoring
- identifying and treating problems as they occur
Because of this, every PHC program is custom for each client’s property and expectations.
Many plant problems are related to improper matching of the plant’s requirements to the landscape site. This is often called “right plant / right site.”
Plants may have been improperly planted. Planting too deep and other planting mistakes are often the source of plant problems.
Plants may have been subjected to improper maintenance techniques. Landscapes are often subjected to improper pruning, fertilizing, irrigation, and other cultural practices.
Often a combination of improper plant sighting, planting, and improper maintenance techniques exist. These all can cause plant stress and decline, making the plant more susceptible to plant diseases, pest infestations and environmental pressures.
The whole PHC program is based on you and your need for a healthy, vigorous landscape.
A PHC technician will consider your expectations when deciding how to implement a PHC treatment program. One important question is when do you want to resort to chemical control of pest problems. Some clients will tolerate a greater percentage of plant damage before requiring action. Some clients will tolerate very little plant damage. Often a client will tolerate less damaged on a prized ornamental specimen tree located in the front yard as opposed to a group of shade trees growing in the back yard. This requires the PHC technician to apply a higher action threshold to some trees and/or sections of the landscape than others.
Treatment recommendations are then made to the client based on that client’s expectations. The key to a successful plant health care program is communication between the client and PHC technician.