Randy Lemmon’s 10 Best and 10 Worst things to happen in the world of horticulture over the past 20 years.

In case you missed it (ICYMI) in Brenda Smith’s Lazy Gardener newsletter of June 18th: Randy has been advising local gardeners since 1995, most recently through his GardenLine call-in show (6-10am every Sat. & Sun. on 740AM & 950AM & KBME. Call-in line: 713-212-KTRH. A proud Aggie, Randy’s expertise combines great experience with constantly updated training and a blessed respect for “good ol’ ways” that still work today.

GOOD THINGS FIRST ( . . . A LA LETTERMAN . . . ):

10. My Fertilization Schedule Works. If your soil stinks, no schedule is going to work, period, Randy warns. Click for Randy’s Fertilization Schedule

9. Deep Root Feeding/Watering of Trees. You’re revitalizing the root system so it will recycle correctly and provide nutrients and minerals the tree needs.

8. We are Planting More Fruit Trees, especially citrus. A typical backyard can handle a dozen. Most can and should be pruned each year. Randy’s typical listener has 4-6 different fruit trees. Fruit trees are sold year-round now. 20 years ago, they were available only in spring.

7. More Texas Native Plants Are Used in Residential Landscaping. Besides the deer-resistant benefit, people are learning about the low maintenance and drought-tolerant benefits as well.

6. We are Getting Better at Attracting Pollinators. Some credit goes to publicity about bee colony collapse and declines in butterfly populations.

5. Organic Insect & Disease Controls Have Improved. We have a whole new world of Organic/Natural Insect Controls. And there will be new ones introduced on a faster clip than any new synthetic insecticide in future years.

4. The Internet. No more requests for SASEs. Follow Randy on Facebook.

3. Organic Fertilizers Have Gotten Better. Not just smelly-chicken-poop-clouds-of-nastiness anymore! They are more advanced in this age of environmental awareness.

2. All Kinds of Soils. Thirty years ago, if you wanted rose soil, “getting started” soil, etc., you had to make it yourself. Now all kinds of quality soils by bulk or bag are so readily available, there’s no need to make your own.

Drum roll please…..

1. Biggest and Best Change: Compost/Compost/Compost. Higher quality now. More available. For me, it’s probably the most significant change, for the better, in the past 20-plus years as your host of GardenLine.

10 WORST THINGS TO HAPPEN IN OUR GARDENING WORLD:

10. The Annual Crape Myrtle Massacre. A battle we may never win. Butchering crape myrtles persists to keep crews busy in the winter months.

9. Zoysia Should Be Our Turfgrass. It was hailed as the “grass of the future” over 25 years ago. I thoroughly agreed — a southern turfgrass that needs less fertilizer, less water and no more chemicals for fungal diseases or insect pressures. Why hasn’t it taken over? Probably cost, even though you’re eventually saving the money with less water, fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide uses.

8. New Homebuilder Landscapes are Simply the Worst. Most homebuilders scrap up the dirt/clay on which the home was built, then plop in the cheapest plants. They cover up that horrible excuse for a raised bed with dyed mulch, further poisoning the soil.

7. Weed Killers Have Not Evolved, are basically the same as were 25 years ago. We have non-selective herbicides that kill everything, and selective, targeted herbicides for broadleaf and sedge type weeds. But no such thing as an “organic” all-purpose broadleaf weed killer.

6. Mowing Practices Have Not Evolved. St. Augustine grasses are mowed too short on a consistent basis. We plead for St. Augustine lawns to be mowed at the highest level a mower can go. Why grow Bermuda and thin-bladed Zoysias if you’re not willing to invest in a reel mower that cuts over the top, like they use on golf courses?

5. Mulch Volcanoes. Only a couple of inches of mulch is needed at base of newly planted trees. A foot or more is a death sentence. Roots try to grow in the mulch versus the ground below. And stop planting flowers in the mulch ring as well!

4. Compacted and Tainted Soils. When flood waters cover lawns and landscapes for days at a time, nothing good is happening to those soils. The “Building the Perfect Beds” book chapter covers Soil Remediation Protocols.

3. Weed-n-Feeds with Atrazine. This product should have been removed 20 years ago by EPA, FDA, USDA and any other agency with such power. It kills trees and contaminates ground water. No matter how good you think Atrazine-based weed-n-feeds are at killing of weeds and greening up of the grass, it’s the negative things you don’t see that make it such a heinous product to use on any residential lawn.

2. People Don’t Do Their Own Lawn Care Anymore. I estimate only one out of every 50 landscapers has education/knowledge on proper care practices. This is why we see so many diseases and weeds being shared from yard to yard. This is why “Crape Murder” happens with regularity. And this is why dyed mulch is so unnecessarily prevalent. And this is also why weed-n-feeds are improperly used as well. At the very least vet these landscapers out.

Drum roll please….

1. WORST THING: DYED MULCH. Mulch should 1. Reduce Weeds 2. Conserve Moisture 3. Add Organic Matter Back to the Soil. None of the dyed mulch help build back organic matter to the soil. They are almost always made of chipped up wood like pallets and discarded timbers, and then dyed. Even if it is dyed with something “organic” it’s still a dye, and it’s still leaching into the soil. Start using a more natural or native hardwood mulch. If landscapers refuse, then they should be fired immediately.

Randy’s book “New Decade Gardening: A Gulf Coast Guide” is available at local nurseries and Amazon. With Covid-19 restrictions there are fewer book signing appearances.

Share your recommendations here or thewoodlandsgardenclub@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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