Ponderiffic offers horticultural services to our customers with the following areas of specialization.
- Plant Selection and design
- Vegetation and softscape installation
- Raised bed gardening with an organic focus
- Tree pruning and removal
- Pest Control Advisor (CCA)
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- Precision Ag Solutions
- Site specific soil and weather monitoring
Plant Selection and Design
Ponderiffic offers design services for our customers utilizing Gardensoft software for plant selection and Dynascape's built-in library of plant selections. We follow the UC guidelines for plant selections in all landscape designs and have access to a wide variety of plant material from nurseries around Southern CA. Most of our work focuses on designing landscapes that utilize native CA plant species in the landscape design. We work extensively with Armstrong Garden Centers throughout the area as members of Aquascape's Water Garden Excellence Program and enjoy many referrals from Armstrong that come to us through this affiliation. We follow USDA hardiness zone recommendations as seen in the Sunset Western Garden Book.
Vegetation and Softscape Installation
Our crews that install vegetation are all aware that we guarantee all plantings for a minimum period of 90 days post planting according to CA landscape Contractors guidelines. Therefore, great care and caution are exercised in the handling and planting of each 1,5, 15 gallon or boxed container from the time it is delivered to site until the plant is properly resting in the soil. Our planting process begins with a soil sample taken on site and often a water analysis for large gardens or orchard plantings.
Soil TestingThe soil test provides us with valuable information about the soils pH, structure, texture and nutritive content for plant growth. All samples obtained are sent to agricultural laboratories for scientific evaluation and results are sent to us within days for quick consultation with our customers. Having a Certified Crop Advisor license and background in crop monitoring gives Ponderiffic a big advantage in knowing what to plant and how to create the right conditions for optimum growth. Ponderiffic will review the soil conditions with the customer and evaulate the planting schedule for the project and look for specific plants which may be affected by a particular soil type. An example where our testing pays big dividends is in landscapes where we are planting Azaleas or Rhododendrons where the soil type must be slightly acidic. Here, our ph test results help us to know how to amend the soil to get the best results for these plants.
Ponderiffic utilizes the soil and water test results to determine the appropriate soil amendments to add such as: gypsum for heavy clays to enhance water infiltration, sulfur for high ph soils, calcium carbonate (limestone) or dolomite for acidic soils and sphagnum peat moss helps here too. In addition to these amendments, Ponderiffic recommends several choices of products which incorporate humic and fulvic acids into the mix for proper soil conditioning along with blends of mycorrhizae (soil fungi) which assist in nutrient cycling and help to establish better root systems. After analysis of pH and how to adjust the soil to correct levels (near nuetral for most plantings) we examine the nutrient content of the soil and make a recommendation for fertilization which will address soil nutrients that are considered deficient.
Fertility recommendations for the landscape can be a tricky subject. There are as many different fertilizer options to choose from as there are plants to grow. While growers in nurseries need a quick and lush plant sure to survive life on the garden center shelves, homeowners, are typically more concerned with the long-term maintenance of the plant. And, while there is often a temptation to over-fertilize in the hopes of producing an even healthier, larger or more beautiful plant, we are quite careful of over-fertilizing because when you force a plant beyond its natural growth rate by over-fertilizing, you can cause it to grow too quickly. This can result in structural problems, predispose the plant to insect or disease infestation, and reduce tolerance to drought or temperature extremes.
As mentioned above, the soil test conducted will tell us the condition of the soil and how to deal with pH. In general, most plants in a landscape setting require more nitrogen than they get from natural sources. One reason is due to the loss of nutrients that could have been cycled back into the soil had the leaves not been raked and removed. Most landscape professionals would agree that most ornamentals will benefit from 2 to 6 pounds of applied nitrogen per season. The exact amount, and ratio of other nutrients, depends on the type of plant and fertility of the existing soil.
Guaranteed Analysis and Cost
Every fertilizer has a guaranteed analysis that represents the concentration of plant nutrients. Some products are more concentrated than others and organic fertilizers will fall behind their synthetic counterparts in % nitrogen contributions. Most natural organic fertilizers contain about 3 to 5% nitrogen while synthetic organic or mineral fertilizers may contain anywhere from 15 to 30% nitrogen. You need eight times as much of a 3% product to supply the same amount of nitrogen as a 24% product.
As far as cost is concerned, assume that in the example we just examined that both products cost $18 per 50-pound bag. The 3% product would provide a total of 1.5 pounds of nitrogen in the bag, and the cost per pound of nitrogen would be $18 / 1.5 or $12.00. At 24% nitrogen, with 12 pounds of nitrogen in each bag so the cost is $18 / 12, or $1.50. The 3% material is actually 8 times more expensive and thus would require 8 times as much to get the same amount of nitrogen.
Fertilizer quality is a function of particle size, consistency, lack of dust, and other physical characteristics. In most instances, we equate quality to the amount and type of controlled release nitrogen. Of all nutrients, nitrogen is the most critical to control in order to provide an extended feeding. In some instances potassium may also be provided in a slow release form. A slow release formulation is most desirable because it feeds plants for a longer period of time and avoids the time and effort required to make frequent repeated applications. There is less chance of problems arising from over fertilization since the nitrogen is released slowly. In addition, plants are able to use more of the nitrogen and thus, less is lost to leaching or volatilization. This is often referred to as nitrogen efficiency and can also apply to other nutrients in slow release form such as potassium.
Low Salt Index and Slow-Release Nitrogen
When Ponderiffic chooses an ornamental fertilizer, an important consideration for us is the salt index. We use fertilizers with a low salt index, which is a measure of salinity that a fertilizer contributes to the soil. Nearly all fertilizers have some salinity, but too much salt can prevent the plant from pulling moisture into its roots. This type of injury is often referred to as fertilizer burn, but it is reality a form of induced drought stress. Typically, less expensive fertilizers will have a higher salt index. When the plant being fertilized does not have a well-developed root structure, such as is the case with a new transplant, it is very susceptible to moisture problems that may be exacerbated by a high soil salt content. We have found that IBDU isobutylidene diurea to be an excellent source of controlled slow release nitrogen and it also has a low salt index. IBDU releases by hydrolysis so it relies on moisture, but is less dependent on temperature. This makes IBDU a great source for plants that grow in cooler soils. We have found that using slow release nitrogen fertilizers offers a fertilization approach that works great under a wide range of conditions for ornamental plants, shrubs and trees.
Raised Bed Gardening
Ponderiffic also offers garden installation services for raised bed gardening and larger row crop gardening. Working with our customers, we offer gardening solutions that take into account on site characteristics such as soil conditions, sunlight availability, water access for irrigation and drainage. Our team will install a raised bed garden based on the available space and desired plant population the customer wishes to monitor and grow. We include all materials for the installation including gopher wire, redwood or cedar, irrigation pipe, soil amendments, seeds or transplants to start the garden and offer tips and information on watering intervals, fertilizing and pest control and harvesting.
Tree Pruning and Removal
Ponderiffic also offers horticultural services of pruning trees and complete tree removal with stump grinding. We utilize normal rope and harness gear for maximum safety of workers and property. We maintain workers compensation and liability insurance coverage and will at request, name the customer as an additional insured for any project we complete where structural damage is a concern. Ponderiffic removes all rubbish from site and leaves each property site only after a thorough cleanup of all construction debris.
Integrated Pest Management and Pest Control Advisor services
Specific services offered from Ponderiffic are in assisting customers to establish safe pest control measures. Whether the pest is a nuisance weed infesting a garden or a population of aphids that are persistent on the flowering roses. Ponderiffic has the experience and credentials to recognize a specific pest and to make a safe recommendation for control of the pest that incorporates a judicious use of pesticides and relies in organic methods or the use of bio control agents where possible. Ponderiffic maintains a Pest Control Advisor (lic #073041) license through the CA Dept of Pesticide Regulations and brings several years of prior experience as a crop monitoring specialist to their customers to offers the latest and safest pest control services and advice to their customers. The specific areas of specialty are insect pests of gardens and ornamentals along with plant diseases and the vectors that transmit them. Ed Brown, owner of Ponderiffic, has a MS in Plant Science and completed his thesis on pesticide efficacy in controlling greenbugs in row crops and thus is well qualified to offer the best advice on how to control any pest you may face in your garden or landscape.