IPM Scouting for Nurseries

Source(s): Todd Hurt

This handout helps to simplify the decision to hire an external or internal pest scout for ornamental production and tips on problem solving. Used on the GGIA nursery tour 2005.

Diagnosing Plant Problems:

  1. Don’t Jump to conclusions
  2. Plant Pathologist/Entomologist
  3. Start Big then Work Small
  4. Plant Problems are rarely the result of a single factor

Terms to know

  • Signs
  • Symptoms
  • Pathogenic
  • Abiotic
  • Halo

Basic Questions

  1. What plants are being effected?
  2. How many plants are involved?
  3. Is the damage found on all of the plants or is it localized?
  4. Is the damage even or progressive?
  5. How long have they been planted?
  6. How are they being watered?
  7. When did you first notice the problem?
  8. Has it spread?
  9. Have you applied anything to try to solve the problem?
  10. Foliar Burn? Also ask about other recent work (i.e. painting, pressure washing)

Now Focus on the Individual Plant:

  1. Are the symptoms on one side of the plant?
  2. Inside of the canopy or out on the tips?
  3. Lower leaves or new growth?
  4. Entire Plant – suspect chemical damage, root/water problems, soil borne diseases
  5. Check Planting Depth
  6. Observe Root System
  7. Damage at soil line or trunk

Insects and Diseases

  • Soft Bodied Insects note color then preserve in rubbing alcohol
  • Disease sample in active margin (halo)
  • Take a large enough sample to show progression
  • In turf note size and shape of damaged area.
  • Keep sample cool in a ziplock bag. Do not add water.
  • If root disease is suspected sample in separate bag.

Bacterial Disease Symptoms

  • Leaf Spots (often water soaked)
  • Wilts
  • Galls

Viral Disease Symptoms

  • Mosaics
  • Ring spots
  • Wilts
  • Stunting
  • Leaf curling

Integrated Pest Management(IPM)

The practice of using all suitable techniques and methods in as compatible a manner as possible to maintain pest populations at levels below those causing economic injury.

IPM Knowledge

  • Know Plants
  • Know Culture & Management Practices
  • Know Pests
  • Know Control Options
  • Know County Agents, Resources
  • Know Chemical Representatives
  • Know Strengths &Weaknesses

The Scout Decision? Internal v/s External


  • Familiar with the nursery
  • Familiar with normal plant appearance
  • Already on the payroll
  • No risk of pest entry from other nurseries
  • Confidential
  • Risk of being redirected to other nursery work
  • Limited time for scouting skill acquisition


  • Salary expended only for scouting time
  • Can specialize in scouting, achieve higher skill level
  • Broader diagnostic network
  • Risk of pests entry from other scout’s nurseries
  • Potential loss of confidentiality

Scout Tool Box

  • Cooler or Ice Chest
  • Hand lens
  • Plastic Bags
  • Water Proof Marker
  • Clipboard White paper
  • Portable pH/EC test
  • Sample Vials & alcohol
  • Reference books
  • Water
  • Knife
  • Clippers
  • Folding Saw
  • Flagging Tape
  • Ruler
  • Gloves
  • Camera
  • Paper Towel/ Wipes

Routine Scouting For Container Nurseries

Scouting Efficiently

  • Monitor Long Cycle Crops Weekly to Biweekly
  • Spend approximately 10 mins inspecting 20 or more plants for every 1000 sq. ft. (or block)
  • Include time to observe pest control application and monitor for efficacy

Tips for Scouts

  • Enter each block looking for abnormal plant symptoms
  • Lift a few suspect plants out of the pot (check moisture level and for decaying roots)
  • Examine foliage for trouble, both new and old growth and top and bottom surfaces.
  • Determine rough count of plants per block with symptoms
  • Look for problem areas (I.e. weeds, irrigation problems or plant spacing)
  • Do the symptoms form a pattern?
  • Flag problem areas (remember however the flagged areas may receive extra attention by the applicator)
  • Record Number and stage of pests present and any beneficial insects present.
  • Determine Threshold numbers

Situational Scouting

  • Nursery Design
  • Nursery Maintenance
  • Water Source and Quality
  • Nursery Media
  • Nursery Containers and Storage
  • Fertilization
  • Plant Propagation
  • Plant Production

Web Resources:


Resource(s): Insect Pests of Ornamental Plants

Center Publication Number: 115

Tree Protection: During Construction and Landscaping Activities

Source(s): Todd Hurt

Construction and landscape activities can have a negative impact on existing trees but the damage is often not visible for several years. This factsheet will discuss how to work with building contractors, landscape professionals and property owners to achieve successful tree saves and minimize expensive post construction tree removals.


Landscape professionals, arborists, and property owners should meet on-site with the building contractor at the inception of the project to set clear and reasonable goals for tree protection. Buildings, walkways and utilities should be sighted, not only for their greatest aesthetic appeal, but also to minimize damage to the existing trees. The building contractor will need to identify the primary access routes, work areas, material storage areas, parking and paint/concrete washout areas. Other major considerations are soil grading activities that occur in a critical rooting zone which may change drainage patterns. Clear communication among all parties involved is key to a successful tree save.

There are five areas of concern for tree health during construction: physical damage, soil cuts, soil fills, soil trenching and soil compaction.

Physical damage occurs when heavy equipment bumps into a tree or transport strapping slips on a new tree being installed and causes obvious wounding to the trunk. The cambium layer which transports food and water is located on the outer circumference of the trunk and is only protected by a thin bark layer. If the cambium layer is damaged, food and water transport will be affected. If a significant amount of the cambium layer is damaged the tree will die.

Soil cuts and fills occur when soil is removed (cut) or added (fill). This includes trenching. Cuts and fills impact the roots ability to exchange oxygen and transport water. Clay soils have reduced porosity and allow for less oxygen exchange and drainage than sandy soils. Tree roots grow closer to the surface in clay soils than they do in sandy soils. Cuts greater than 2 inches in clays soils and 10 inches in sandy soil cause significant root damage. Likewise, fills exceeding 1 inch of clay soils and 8 inches of sandy soil initiate root damage. Root death occurs with the addition of 3 inches of clay soil and 24 inches of sandy soil.

Trenching for utilities may also be damaging to trees. Trenching severs the root system, killing roots from the severed point outward. When many of the large anchor type roots are severed, the tree may become unsafe and prone to falling. When 20 to 30% of the critical rooting zone is damaged a tree’s health will be impacted.

Soil compaction is a silent killer of urban trees. Tree decline from soil compaction may take three to seven years to appear. Stockpiled building materials, heavy machinery, and excessive foot traffic all damage soil structure. It seems innocent enough, you park your truck in the shade to keep cool. However, by the time you have driven over the same spot three times, the soil may reach 90% compaction. Lacking good soil aeration, roots suffocate and tree health declines.

Chemical damage of trees may occur if equipment and concrete wash out areas areas are not properly sited.

Tree Protection Methods

Not every tree can or should be saved. If a tree protection zone can not be maintained for a particular tree, then it may be more economically feasible to remove the tree. A certified landscape professional or arborist should evaluate the areas to be protected for weak trees and undesirable plant species.

Once the desirable trees and construction routes are determined the tree protection zones and signage for designated equipment wash out areas should be installed. Orange tree save fencing is commonly used but easy to remove when it is inconvenient to go around the tree save area. In some cases more permanent materials, such as chain link fencing, may be a better option. Whatever fencing material is used, it must be maintained throughout the construction process.

Equipment is now available that can tunnel the utility lines under trees without cutting roots. Instead of sidewalks or roads consider creating a raised walkway or bridge over the rooting zone. With bridging the only points of root disturbance are where the support pilings are anchored into the soil.

If the root zone must be encroached upon by a soil cut or trench, root pruning of the desired trees is recommended. Root pruning is done by making a clean, vertical cut of the root system at the perimeter of the construction zone 3-6 months in advance of soil disturbance. This allows the tree time to produce more feeder roots inside of the root pruning line and reduces tree stress from the construction activity. Root pruning also helps minimize tearing of roots because it makes clean vertical cuts.

Spreading the Load – If traffic across a protected root zone is unavoidable, consider using one of the following bridging methods in the traffic area: a logging mat, plywood panels, or geotextile fabric and six inches or more of wood chips. Avoid working in the area if the soil is wet. All materials need to be removed once construction activity has ended.

Center Publication Number: 273

A Teaching Garden

Source(s): The Cherokee County Master Gardeners

The Cherokee County Master Gardeners have put their knowledge to work and on display. They have come up with solutions to many gardening dilemmas. Their teaching garden is located on the grounds of the Senior Citizens Center at 1001 Univeter Road in Canton, GA.

garden1 garden2

Lifetime Master Gardener Marcia Winchester oversees the entire garden, holding two work days a month. The sessions are educational and are an excellent tool for teaching new Master Gardener interns.

In 1996, the CCMG had no budget so the garden was developed solely with plant donations from the Master Gardeners and senior citizens. A large portion of it was a vegetable garden, planted so that seniors could enjoy fresh vegetables.

Over the years, the garden has slowly evolved. A cement pad and two swings were donated by contractor Bob Castle. Home Depot in Woodstock donated materials for a pergola, and Bates Lumber Co. in Canton contributed nails. On April 27th, instructor Carlos Jones of the Sequoia Vocation Arts Dept. directed some of his students in the building of the pergola. This anchored the garden, giving it a nice central focal point. Modeled after the Cobb county Backacher garden, the garden was broken into several smaller gardens and a chair and co-chair were assigned to maintain it. A grant was given to pour a cement path so that seniors could maneuver easily.

Plantings in the front of the building are formal. Plants are low maintenance, drought tolerant, annuals and perennials. A shaded, dry area underneath a spanse of windows near the entrance posed a challenge. It is planted with evergreen plants and white blooming annuals that take very little time to maintain. If you are tired of watering, this is an excellent example of drought tolerant plants that work well in home gardens.

In 2003, a Patriot Garden was installed around the roadside mailbox, with a memorial plaque dedicating the garden to our military. The color scheme is predominately red, white and blue, in memory of 9/11 and military veterans who use the senior center.

The large area in back is divided into several gardens, separated by cement paths. The “Vegetable Garden” consists of several raised beds. Permanent trellises were installed several years ago to provide support for climbing vegetable plants. Recently the two front vegetable beds were converted into experimental peanut beds. Five blueberry bushes, donated by a MG training class from several years ago, provide senior citizens with blueberries for several weeks during the summer.

The area around the pergola is the “Fragrant Garden”. Plants there were funded by a State Master Gardener grant. This is a lovely place to sit in the shade and enjoy the fragrances year round.

The “Heirloom Garden” is full of plants reminiscent of gardens from the Old South. China plates mark plants with their common names, and the area includes yard art to support the garden’s theme: a gazing ball, a wheel barrel used as a planter, an old chest left open with annuals cascading out, and a brass headboard that serves as a short fence. Purple, yellow, orange, and white blooming flowers are repeated throughout the garden.

The “Butterfly Garden” is one of our oldest gardens. It is in the process of being redesigned as light patterns have changed. The “Memorial Garden” (in memory of all the Meals-on-Wheels volunteers) is a small heart-shaped garden, outlined with dwarf hollies and inset with ice plant for summer color. It includes a white Crepe Myrtle for gentle shade. A donated wrought iron table and two chairs are located nearby—for sitting and remembering old friends.

A “Xeriscape Garden” is located by one of the downspouts of the Senior Center. In one corner it gets lots of water when it rains; otherwise the soil is extremely hot and dry. The soil is a mixture of orange clay and gravel from the construction of the building. Native plants have been used in its design. The “Holding Area” was expanded and screened off with a decorative white picket fence. Two new propagation beds were installed this summer.

In 2004 the Cherokee County Commissioners funded the installation of an irrigation system. At the request of the County Extension Agent, Todd Hurt, we decided to install a “drip” irrigation system to demonstrate water use efficiency and minimize weed growth. A variety of low volume emitters were used to show the flexibility of low volume systems.

DIRECTIONS to the garden driving from I-575: Take exit 14. Traveling from the south, turn left at the end of the exit ramp. Go through 3 lights and at 4th light turn right onto Univeter Road. Travel .8 miles and the Senior Center will be on the left. Traveling from the north, turn right at the end of the exit ramp and go through 2 lights. At the 3rd light turn right onto Univeter Road. Travel .8 miles and the Senior Center will be on the left.


Resource(s): Landscape Plants for Georgia

Center Publication Number: 123