Does your yard have a health plan?

CHAMPAIGN—When is the last time your yard had a check-up?

Just like people, plants need periodic examinations and treatments to help prolong their health. Plant health care (PHC) is a vital part of landscape management.

Preventive care, frequent check-ups, early detection, informed decision-making and routine treatments that provide long-term, stable solutions are regular duties of plant health care programs. A PHC plan is multi-faceted and customer-driven, focusing on the health, growth and beauty of a homeowner’s yard.

“It’s like an HMO plan for your yard,” said Jim Skiera, executive director for the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). “Adopting a plant health care program can prevent problems or keep them from getting serious. When homeowners and professionals work together, everyone benefits. Drastic, costly maintenance can be avoided while the value of the entire property increases.”

The basic premise behind PHC is that, if a plant is taken care of properly, natural defenses can be strengthened. Energy that would normally be used up fighting stressful factors can instead be utilized to build up defense systems. Regular check-ups and the removal of hazardous factors from the environment help to improve the health of a plant, the same as they would the health of a human.

Maintaining a plant heath care program

First, choose the right professional support. You would select a doctor carefully, so be sure to select the best professional to assist you in your PHC plan. Experts should ask questions, determine priorities, and discover the homeowner’s expectations.

Look for ISA Certified Arborists or certified landscape professionals who are well-trained, educated, and experienced professionals familiar with landscape plants, their needs, and the pests and diseases most likely to attack.

Every yard is different, so individual care is important. Frequent monitoring aids in early detection, and is key to the long-term health of plants. Professionals will alert you to any existing or anticipated problems, then suggest all possible treatment options and alternatives—just like a doctor would a patient.

The best choices usually involve natural processes that are least intrusive. Chemical treatments should be used as a last resort. Homeowners and professionals should work together to decide what is best for the yard.

Expensive remedies are often employed after a yard has already been badly damaged. These practices are often unsuccessful, and cost homeowners significant amounts of money in planting and maintenance.

Proactive PHC programs cost considerably less than reactive interventions because they help ensure the health and beauty of plants and landscapes, lowering maintenance costs and increasing property values.

“The long-term savings is virtually guaranteed,” Skiera said. “Not only will a plant health care program enhance the well-being of plants, but it also will improve the mood and bank account of the homeowner.”

About the ISA

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world.

As part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry.

For more info and to find a local ISA Certified Arborist, visit

From the June 14-20, 2006, issue

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