Plant health care, also called PHC, offers a total health approach to landscape and plant health. As an arborist you will monitor each property, watching for potential or actual problems in the Plant health care is crucial for any client's landscape.landscape that might be best avoided or dealt with by implementing a PHC treatment program.

Traditional landscape pest control programs rely on “cover sprays.” The pest-control sprays arborist may offer to the client are based on the company’s knowledge of common pest problems and control measures in the service area. Traditional pest control programs are not necessarily obsolete or “bad” for the environment and maybe the best option for clients who have overriding concerns about program costs or are only concerned about one specific pest problem.

In contrast, plant health care technicians consider the landscape when deciding how to best care for plants. PHC technicians manage plant problems through careful monitoring of the landscape environment. Chemical controls may be part of the treatment, but they are not necessarily used in every treatment. Because of this, every PHC program is customized to fit the client’s property and expectations.

The PHC technician maintains landscaped plants by:

  • evaluating the landscape’s environment
  • noting the causes of plant stress (stressors)
  • maintaining plant performance through proper cultural practices
  •  investigating the landscape through monitoring
  •  identifying and treating problems as they occur

The following are examples of some common problems:

1. Improper matching of the plant’s requirements to the landscape site
2. Improperly planted
3. Subjected to improper maintenance practices
4. A combination of improper plant siting (wrong plant/wrong site), improper planting and improper maintenance techniques can cause plant stress and decline.

What to expect?

A PHC technician also will consider your expectations when deciding how to implement a PHC treatment program. One important question is, when do you, the client, want to resort to chemical control of pest problems?

Some clients will tolerate a greater percentage of plant damage before requiring action. However, other clients will tolerate very little plant damage. Often a client will tolerate less damage on a prized ornamental specimen tree located in the front yard as opposed to trees growing in the backyard. This requires the PHC technician to apply a higher action threshold to some trees and/or sections of the landscape than others. Here, communication and understanding between the client and plant health care technician are key.

A professional arborist can examine your trees to find the source of a problem and recommend what, if any, treatments are required, including thinning dense woods, planting new trees, correcting soil deficiencies, increasing water and nutrients, or managing pests.

*Information provided by a TCI Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Treecare Safety Professional.