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ASK THE EXPERTS

The only constant is change

POSTED: December 31, 2008 4:00 a.m.

As the New Year begins, it’s a good time to reflect on changes that occurred in the past year.

  

It’s been said that the only constant thing in life is change. This statement is very true when we talk of the landscape that is common around southern homes.

  

Many of us can remember the time in the south when we didn’t have to worry about disease in turfgrass lawns because few homes had lawns.

  

My grandmother had a broom made of privet hedge that she used to sweep the bare ground around her home. She did have an annual flower garden that would put most gardens to shame. The main shrub of that day was the boxwood, and trees were planted more for shade and not for show.

  

It was not until the 1950s that fescue was introduced to North Georgia and fescue lawns became popular.

  

Hybrid Bermuda was unheard of, and common Bermuda, for the most part, was considered a weed. It was around this time when using shrubs around the foundation of the home became popular, not only around fine homes such as those found in Charleston, S.C., but  the most modest homes as well.

  

During the past few decades, the ornamentals and turfgrass industry has grown very fast, with virtually hundreds of varieties of ornamentals and dozens of turfgrasses from which to choose.

  

It’s true that some varieties of ornamentals, such as Redtips, have been overused and have many disease problems, but most varieties, when used in the right locations, are good plants. 

  

Remember that a weed is only a plant growing out of place.

  

During the droughts of the 1980s, we learned the hard way how important mulching and using varieties that use little water is.

  

During the 1980s, the natural look for landscape plans became popular. 

  

People once again realized that natural is beautiful. I believe the droughts of the mid-1980s taught many lessons we are using in today’s drought.

  

What lies ahead in landscape design as we head toward the year 2009? 

  

I think we will see even more change. I think greater emphasis will be placed on perennials that flower and less on annuals that require a great deal of maintenance.

  

Newer turfgrasses that can tolerate more environmental diversity and that have a greater disease tolerance will be introduced.

  

Another trend is a greater sense of responsibility from the public towards the use of pesticides in the landscape. People are trying to rely more on beneficial insects and less on spraying until it is absolutely necessary. The extension service will continue to have a major role of educating the public on not only how and when to use pesticides safely, but also alternatives to the use of pesticides.

  

I believe the use of recycling of plant materials for use in the landscape will increase. Making use of materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill is more than a trend, it’s a must.

  

On a personal note, as we enter into another year, I pray for blessings on our nation, state and county.

  

May the New Year bring us closer together as we once again realize what is truly important in life.

  

Clark Beusse is the Dawson County Extension Agent.

 

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