Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

FEB 2018

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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26 LC DBM additive that is an even more effective tool in water conservation: hygroscopic humectants. These substances attract the water vapor in the soil that the plant's roots cannot use, and condense it back into a liquid, then hold on to it until the plant needs it. "Hygroscopic humectants effectively minimize the loss of soil water to evapo - ration by condensing the escaping water vapor back into liquid form for the plant to use," Spindler says. "In fact, these products have been documented to re - duce overall water use by as much as 50 percent." These additives can also be used to optimize seed germination and establish - ment, allow trees, shrubs and ornaments to establish quickly and survive drought conditions more successfully, and, in combination with wetting agents, relieve localized dry spots. Nourishing the Soil The most common additive is fertilizer, and as such, doesn't need much more than a review here. The three main nu - trients for plants are nitrogen, phospho- rus and potassium, with nitrogen being the most important. Formulations come in single nutrient (straight fertilizer) or multi-nutrient (complex fertilizer) – as exemplified by the typical NPK rating, which is listed by three numbers repre - senting the percentage of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in it. Humates, formed over years from the decomposition of animal and plant life, are one type of organic fertilizer. They contain many valuable nutrients including fulvic and amino acids, humic, and carbon. Live Earth Products, which mines humate material that is "completely decomposed, ancient plant life" and then manufactures fertilizers, soil amendments and more, at - tests that improved availability of applied nutrients, a better balance of nitrogen lev - els for efficient uptake, water conserva- tion and stronger plant and root growth can result from the application of their humate-based products. Mycorrhizal fungi are one of the ben - eficial organisms found in healthy soils. They colonize the roots of plants, becom - ing extensions of the root systems and thereby expanding the root mass. This improves nutrient and water uptake, re - duces plant stress and some diseases. However, the potential for soil to form mycorrhizal fungi is damaged by the ev - eryday practices associated with land de- velopment. Reintroducing the fungi back into the soil can make it a much better environment for plant growth. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria can absorb atmospheric nitrogen from the soil and change it into nitrate or ammonia that plants can use to produce proteins. One Left Whether organic materials such as straw and bark, or inorganic such as rocks or this glass material from American Specialty Glass, mulch benefits soil by reducing water loss from evaporation and runoff, preventing erosion, and reducing compaction. Left Humates, not be confused with humectants, are prehistoric plant matter that is mined by companies like Live Earth Products, which then incorporates it into various manufactured goods, such as fertilizers and soil amendments. When added to the soil, these humate-based products are credited with enhancing its struc- ture, improving the transformation of nutrients from the soil to the plant, increasing water saturation, and repairing decelerated biological activity. Above Super absorbent polymers are designed to store many more times their weight in water (over 200 times according to JRM Chemical, the manufacturer of Soil Most polymers). Installation techniques include placing the polymer crystals in the holes left by an aeration machine or using a machine that will inject them into the soil. PHOTO: AMERICAN SPECIALTY GLASS PHOTO: ECOLOGEL SOLUTIONS PHOTO: LIVE EARTH PRODUCTS

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