bad landscape hurricane Irma

Stumped: Twisted Trees

Hurricane Irma left her mark on South Florida.  Five months ago her 90 to 150 mile per hour winds destroyed tens of thousands of trees but here are some interesting survivors in Fort Myers and Naples. (Roll over each photo for the caption.)


bad landscape

The Lorax Puked (Bad, Sad Trees)

I was stunned and saddened by the number of mangled Florida Live Oaks surrounding this (unnamed) business in Naples. These trees might have been planted correctly, then staked, and then guyed with wires wrapped in hose. But that was seven years ago! Stakes and other supports should be removed within six months after planting.

Nearly every one of the trees has wire and hose deeply embedded into their trunks. Sometimes the tree swallows the objects, sometimes major branches die, sometimes the wind blows and the head falls off at the rotten spot.

Wouldn’t the landscape maintenance company bring this to the attention of the owners? Ever?

It’s too late for wire cutters. Most of these trees require surgery to prevent strangulation.

Remember Dr. Seuss’s Lorax? “I speak for the trees.” If that little critter saw these trees choking¬†from bondage he’d have a seizure.

bad landscape palms

Garbage Palms

Dead plants don’t bother me, if they died from natural causes. But these Cabbage palms died from ignorance.

This is a little strip mall on US 41 in Fort Myers, FL. These palms have been planted for about a year and all of them are dead or dying, while the neighboring plants are surviving. I had to know what happened. So I got out my trowel and confirmed my suspicion. All of these palms were planted too deep. The photo shows where I dug down 12″ deep and found nothing but trunk. I have no idea how deep the (dead) root system is but it was beyond me.

Even planting three inches too deep is enough to slowly suffocate a tree’s roots. But a one foot grave is absolute incompetence.

bad landscape

Crowded Confederates and Faux-meliads

Here we have a couple of peculiar landscape treatments that caught my eye.

Confederate Jasmine is an excellent landscape plant and the variegated version grows a little slower than the green…but it is still a vine that will naturally grow ten to twelve feet high and wide. This landscaper decided to plant ten plants where one would grow too large.

Variegated Confederate Jasmine.

Next, these neon yellow props-from-“Avatar” made me slow down. They are so uniformly unnatural, yet they match the silk plants in the neighboring pots. I understand the goal of property managers to cut costs and lower maintenance but I’m not sure that glowing, plastic vegetation suggests luxury.

Pretty plastic “plants”.
bad landscape

Oak Ignorance

The line of live oaks on the left are planted along a parking lot under power lines in Cape Coral, Florida. Why?
The photo on the right is the same tree, in its mature size. This monster is in Jacksonville, Fl and is estimated to be over 200 years old.
Look it up in any plant book: the Live Oak will grow about 50′ high and 60′ wide.
Pruners can’t make up for ignorance. Why risk the lives of arborists every year by forcing them to prune these trees? May I suggest the one-cut pruning method at the ground level?

bad landscape

Make it Fit!

Another example of short-sighted landscaping. Did the designer or landscaper know the growth habit and mature size of these plants?
I suspect they went to the nursery and bought a bunch of colorful plants and determined to force them all into the same size and shape with gas shears every week.
Each one of these shrubs could separately, comfortably fill this 8′ wide bed. The ‘Helen Johnson’ bougainvillea would be a blooming spectacle by itself in the middle of the bed, if unpruned.
The overused ‘Gold Finger’ schefflera could also make a handsome low hedge if allowed to spread laterally.
When will they realize the silver buttonwood is a small tree, growing 12′ to 15′ tall and wide?
Put away the pruners and get out the shovel.
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bad landscape

How Many is Too Many?

This is a freshly planted bed of Green Island Ficus. Did the designer know the mature size of this plant? Each one will grow at least four feet wide. Why did they plant them one inch from the edge of the curb?
If the landscaper thought about the plant’s eventual size they could have planted six or seven in this bed and had a better looking, longer lasting, lower maintenance bed.
P.S. This is at a nationwide fast food chain that must have hired a professional. And the hundreds of people that eat there each day will consider copying this poor planting technique. ficus overplanted

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Crooked Oaks

These Live Oaks have been planted for over 10 years (at a car wash I frequent). Every one is crooked. The reason is they were poorly grown in the nursery. Note the above ground circling roots. These woody roots grew in circles in the pot and never escaped that spiraling shape. Instead of having normal, spreading anchor roots this system is as firm as a spring.