Observation Period: Initial establishment of plantings (mid June) to
July 27th 2020.
Some plantings needed to be moved
around, thus needing to be re-established into the beds. The observations were
taken from the day of re-establishing some of these treatments (June 18th)
to the first observation periods, known as Phase One.
During this first initial
observation period, most of the plants “Met Homeowner’s Expectations”. It
should be noted that there was not a lot of growth that took place during this initial
observation period. At this point, the plants were still trying to establish
themselves in the landscape.
Although most plants did not stand
out in regards to growth patterns- three treatments did have some observable
changes. There was observable growth in treatment 3 sunpatiens (APPS amended
and tilled), both the Angelonia and Sunpatiens in treatment 7 (mushroom compost
amended and tilled), and treatment 10 landscape compost amended and tilled).
All Purpose Potting
Soil Amended and Tilled:
It is my opinion that the initial success of APPS was based
on the moisture retention properties of the raw inputs used in the mix. The
components of the peat moss and coir present in the APPS have higher water
retention properties. Due to the increased water retention properties, this
allowed the plants to establish themselves quicker in the landscape; which
ultimately lead to the success of APPS throughout the entire trial. Additionally, I think the watering regiment was very crucial
in the success of this amendment because it allowed the water retention
properties of the peat moss and coir to really be utilized to their full
Mushroom Compost Amended and Tilled:
I believe the mushroom compost was so successful in the
first month due to the nutritional value that the compost offers. Since the
mushroom compost was amended, those nutrients were worked directly into the
bed, allowing for the plants to absorb all the nutrients and aide in the
overall establishment of the plants. As we know, establishing plants in a
pre-existing bed may not always be the easiest task, especially in the Midwest
when we have very clay heavy soils. Due to the immediate and readily available
nutrients, I believe this is what lead to successful plant establishment and
ultimately gave the mushroom compost an advantage throughout the entirety of
Landscape Compost Amended and Tilled:
Similar to the mushroom compost, I think the nutritional
value of the landscape compost helped these plants to thrive during initial
establishment. We know from a historic perspective that this is traditionally
what landscapers will use. Aside from it being a cheap input, it is also in
great supply locally for landscapers. I believe landscape compost is a tried
and true amendment, which is why we had so much success with this amendment
from June to July.
|Alexis Taking the First Measurements of the Trial Bed During Month 1 Observation Period.|
|Trial Bed During Month 1 Observation Period- Some Growth was Present.|
Month Two Observation Period: July 27th 2020
to August 31st 2020.
During this second observation period is when the most growth
occurred. Both species looked absolutely stunning; although it should be noted
that growth in the Sunpatiens was easier to observe and identify.
There were very obvious growth difference in the right
bed versus the left bed. The right bed had some plants that thrived, but most
were underwhelming in comparison to the growth that occurred in the left bed. I
believe this was due to a few variables:
location of the Hawthorn tree may have unintentionally skewed some of our
results. I think this could be due to potential competition for water and
nutritional resources, as well as more or less shade being present throughout
runoff- I believe some of the plots
closest to the curb faced issues of heat, but more importantly had issues with
run-off. The plots located in the right bed on the curb had a more substantial
curve they followed, allowing for more water to run-off of the plots in
comparisons to the curb plots located in the left side bed.
soil differences and differences in site history (specifically with amendments)
could potentially have affected the growth of the right bed.
The top contender for phase two observation were One Step- both the amended and tilled as well as the 1" top dress. The One Step was classified as “Exceeds
Homeowner’s Expectations” As of now, I would say One Step with Top
dress would be ranked as the true "number one". In second place would be the All Purpose Potting Soil- botht he amended and tilled as well as the 1" top dress. These
treatments also “Exceeds Homeowners Expectations”.
Honorable mentions would include the Landscape Compost (both amended and tilled as well as no till with 1" top dress), Blended Compost (amended and tilled), and Mushroom Compost (amended
and tilled) as these treatments were also classified as “Exceeds Homeowner’s
One Step- Amended and Tilled AND No Till with 1” Top Dress:
I believe One Step was so successful due to the inputs used
in the product. One Step contains Mycorrhizae which creates a mutually
beneficial (or symbiotic) relationship with the plant host- meaning that the
mycorrhizae help the plant to stay alive so the mycorrhizae itself can stay
We know that in the Midwest we are often faced with drought
or drought like conditions, especially in July and August. Due to this high
stress environment, the mycorrhizae were really able to perform to the best of
its ability and allowed such incredible and dense growth.
It should be noted that the success of the One Step was
similar in both the amended and tilled treatment versus the top dress
treatment. Due to the success of both treatments, I do NOT believe that amended
and tilling the bed is necessary to get ideal results; meaning landscapers will
be saving both time and money when choosing the One Step product.
All Purpose Potting Soil- Amended and Tilled AND No Till
with 1” Top Dress:
For All Purpose Potting Soil I would argue that you do not
need to till and could just top dress, considering both treatments look so
similar. This is great news though from a labor savings aspect- you can achieve
beautiful results without having to till- saving landscapers both time and
I think the water retention properties are the key as to why
APPS performed so wonderfully and so consistently throughout the trials. The
water retention properties of the inputs in the APPS make it the product more
consistent when establishing a watering regiment throughout the growing season.
Additionally, the control release fertilizer continually
feeds nutrients to the plants, which is ideal when conditions become stressful.
It also eliminated the need of a fertilizer regiment for landscapers throughout
the growing season
Blended Compost Amended and Tilled:
Similar to Mushroom and Landscape Compost, I think the
blended compost was so successful due to the nutrients that were available to
the plants, especially during stressful conditions such as a drought. It was
able to continue to feed the plants and provide a constant flow of nutrients
throughout the growing season.
|Trial Bed During Month 2 Observation Period- This is When Most of The Growth Occurred. |
|Trial Bed During Month 2 Observation Period.|
Month Three Observation Period: August 31st
2020 to September 28th 2020
During this second observation period is when the most
growth occurred. During the last month of the trial the growth tended to be
consistent, predictable, and less overwhelming.
The right bed looked significantly better in this last
coming month. Although it is great to see positive change (especially in
treatment 8- One Step amended and tilled and treatment 10 landscape compost
amended and tilled) this is not conducive to a homeowner. Homeowners and
landscapers want plants to look presentable for the entire growing season, not
at the end of the growing season.
Overall, the results stayed the same as the observational
phase two period. I believe when conducting future trials our best bet is to
analyze the growth from initial planting through the month of August. I believe
this is when plants will endure the most stress throughout the growing season;
so our results will be more accurate in regards to overall growth, performance,
environmental stressors, and maintenance (including adding additional amendment
to make the beds appear more appealing, fertilizer regiments, and watering
|Trial Bed During Month 3 Observation Period.|
|Alexis Taking the Final Measurements of the Trial Bed During Month 3 Observation Period.|