From Randy’s Book – New Decade Gardening: A Gulf Coast Guide

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. Why Isn’t It?!? 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. They 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! I recently stumbled across a website for a Houston-based landscape company and their pictures of mulch being laid were showing how they do mulch volcanoes seemingly on purpose and with dyed mulch to boot! Yikes!!!

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.