Top 10 biggest gardening changes in the past 20 years

posted by Randy Lemmon - 

Last week, I reissued our take-all patch tip sheet, and really made it all about compost top-dressing to fix the problem. 

I got some push-back emails from people who really weren’t aware of the many changes that have occurred in the compost-making industry over the past 20 years.  They were still living in the past … when compost was chunky and smelly. 

Meanwhile, while doing some housecleaning on emails and old tip sheets, I stumbled across a list of “biggest changes” I was asked to compile for a neighborhood newsletter about a year ago.  Coincidentally, the first of the big changes I listed was how compost has improved.  Check out the list yourself, and let me know what other big changes you’ve seen in Southeast Texas horticulture.

Compost/Compost/Compost - Better compost for so many uses, period! Compost as top-dressing, compost as mulch ... you name it.  For me, because it looks so good and is easier to spread, it's probably the most significant change for the better in the past 20 years.

Increased use of dyed mulch - One of the worst changes ever! Not only is it unhealthy for the soil and plants, it just doesn't look natural. 

Improved organic fertilizers – They’re more advanced, less smelly, more cost effective and actually usable in a broadcast spreaders. Twenty years ago, it was the polar opposite.

Internet and social media – Technology gets more people involved. Finding answers is quicker and easier. Plus, you can order everything from seeds to tools online.

Introduction of organic and natural insect controls – Hello, neem oil, spinosad and plant oils.

Elimination of insecticides – Bye-bye dursban, diazinon, lindane and the like.

More Texas native plants - Thirty years ago, they were oh so niche. Now, they’re the basis of many a nursery and garden center.

More fruit trees - And maybe even more importantly, sold year-round.

Deep-root feeding and watering trees - The more drought-like months we endure, the more obvious the need.  It's one of the most referenced GardenLine tip sheets.

Fewer trash trees and short-lived trees – Thankfully, for example, we don't see Arizona ash anymore, and far fewer silver leaf maples.

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But I couldn’t just end it there.  While we’ve improved in some areas, there are many things that haven’t advanced at all.  I’m shocked we simply haven’t gotten better in some areas:

  • Still too much crape myrtle massacre.
  • I don’t understand why landscapers started planting trees right up next to foundations. I’m pretty sure it can be linked back to new builder construction.
  • Still too much use of atrazine-based weed-and-feeds. 
  • I can't believe zoysia has not become THE grass of choice.
  • Why are landscapers still horrible with the landscapes of newly constructed homes, especially with the lack of properly built beds? They all seem to just scrape the clay and sand into a pile near the foundation.
  • Hard to believe that no weed killer has been developed for all weeds that is also safe for all grasses and bedding plants. Weed killers are pretty much what they were two decades ago, and that's just sad!
  • And I don't understand why people and mowing services still cut St. Augustine too short.

If you’ve got a suggestion for either list, shoot me an email: randy@ktrh.com

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