Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Bad Policy Continued — No Mulch

Spring cleanup and plant replacement have now begun, but it looks as if the bad policy approved a few years ago is going to be continued this year: the beds and plants in Princeton Landing will not be mulched.

This is a terrible mistake. Simply from an aesthetic point of view, mulching enhances the attractiveness of our whole community. If you visit other communities, notice how mulching renews and improves their landscape. Then notice how Princeton Landing looks in comparison.

Mulching is also essential for the health and longevity of our landscape. It protects the big investment we have made (and are making) in plants and maintenance. For example, most ornamental shrubs and trees in our community (especially rhododendrons and azaleas) are shallow rooted. Mulching protects their roots from the hot sun, conserves water and eliminates weeds that compete for water and nutrients. This allows our plants to survive longer and look better.

Mulching controls weeds as well. Look closely at the weeds now sprouting in our beds. They will be well established by summer and our community will look shabby and unkempt. Those who think we save money by not mulching are overlooking the cost of replacing plants and the effect that an unattractive landscape has on the value of our homes.


Anonymous said...

We need more toxic chemicals that Brickman loves laying down where kids and pets play...

Jon Latimer said...

This comment is a little cryptic, but if Anonymous is implying that mulching can help reduce the amount of herbicide needed to control weeds in PL, he or she is right. However, the assertion that the herbicide now being used is toxic and that Brickman “loves” to lay it down where “kids and pets play" is both inflammatory and wrong.
Jon Latimer

Anonymous said...

We fell in love with Princeton Landing, as I know so many others in the community, because of is luscious grounds and uncommon architecture.

I would think most residents would like to maintain the beauty of the grounds as well as not contributing any more dangerous herbicides, to both our bodies and environment, than absolutely necessary.

As a fairly new resident, I'm unsure of what the has been done in the past or current discussion is regarding these chemicals.

However, there is more than enough reserach to indicate that there is a link to prolonged exposure to these chemicals and cancer, and not just for the workers in the field.

A good first book to read on this is Dr.Devra Davis' The Secret History of the War on Cancer (she is the Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the UNiversity of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and professor of epidemiology, and scholar in residence at the National Academy of Science.)

The only reason these chemicals continue to be used is because of huge profits by the industry, that buy off politicians, and this money has silenced action (similar to how they squashed research on gun /violence research).

I don't think the some what fatalistic and even perhaps hedonist view that "we're going to die of something" or "toxins are everywhere," is a legitimate argument.

Has anyone looked into working with Rutgers and their school of agriculture- to see if there's a middle ground? I know they do something called pest integrated management on fruit trees.

Aside from our own individual health concerns is the very serious issue of climate change, which is going to impact our landscape. We are contributing heavily to it, while communities such as Princeton are investing in more recycling (food) programs and farmers' markets.

I hope people will go their landscape committee meetings and organize for a few changes - at the very least, we should receive notice by email of when they're spraying the toxins. Certainly breathing it in fresh off the grass will be mitigated by being in doors.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention mulch...there is safe organic mulch and why not ask homeowners if they would be willing to spend a few dollars more for it? Or look into places that sell it at a discount?

Karen Stray Nolting said...

Anonymous has left a long, thoughtful comment. It would be even better if the author signed his or her name so that neighbors interested in this subject could get together.

jplatimer said...

Anonymous Number 2 covers a lot of ground in his or her comments. If he decides to follow his own advice and attend Landscape Committee Meetings, he will find most of the issues and ideas he raises have been thoroughly discussed, but a new voice is always welcome. However, to equate the use of chemicals in the PL landscape with the industrial applications described in The Secret History of the War on Cancer is simply false. Our use is neither prolonged nor excessive. And, residents are warned days before an application occurs by signs placed throughout the community. It is worth recalling that PL tried to get by without spraying for weeds or using mulch several years ago, with disastrous results. In fact, the landscape has still not recovered its former beauty. That is an experiment we definitely do not want to repeat.