Deconstructing Plant and Soil Myths

Jan 13, 2020

Deconstructing Plant and Soil Myths

Jan 13, 2020

Washington State University and UCCE - Ventura County, respectively

Horticultural myths, found extensively in print and online resources, are passed along by uninformed gardeners, nursery staff, and landscape professionals. Occasionally myths are so compelling that they make their way into Extension publications, used by Master Gardeners as educational resources. In this article we deconstruct seven widespread gardening myths by way of reviewing research-based literature. We also provide scientifically sound alternatives to these gardening practices and products. Our hope is to arm Extension educators with the educational resources necessary to battle misinformation that ranges from the merely useless to that which is actively damaging to soils, plants, and the surrounding environment.

Home gardeners and landscape professionals are a rapidly growing audience for extension educators as they seek science-based information to support their activities. However, many are not familiar with current research and cannot assess whether the information they find in print, on the internet, or through social media is accurate. In addition, some products and practices are meant for agricultural production, not for maintaining home gardens and landscapes. The combination of misinformation and misapplied information means that this audience risks damaging their plants and soils through overuse of fertilizers, misuse of pesticides, and poor management practices.

The field of urban horticulture, including arboriculture, is expanding with new insights about plants and soils in residential and public landscapes. However, there are few Extension educators who have an academic background in environmental horticulture and may be as confused as the public about what constitutes sound, science-based recommendations.

The authors of this article are state Cooperative Extension educators and researchers with many years of experience in translating science for use by home gardeners and landscape professionals. Our goal is to assist other Extension educators by providing reliable information for them to share with the gardening and landscaping public.

The purposes of this literature review article are:

  • to identify some common beliefs homeowners and landscape professionals have about managing landscape plants and soils;
  • to provide a brief, science-based explanation on why these beliefs are not accurate;
  • to provide links to published, peer-reviewed information that supports the explanation and can be distributed to clientele; and
  • to suggest strategies based on current and relevant applied plant and soil sciences for managed landscapes.

 And here is the article:

Garden Myth Busting for Extension Educators: Reviewing the literture on Landscape Trees

By Jim Downer

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