Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer Co. Horticulturist 97


  • Moisture extremes (drought, flooding)
  • Temperature extremes (rapid fluctuations, excessive cold/heat in any season)
  • Storm damage (wind, lightning)
  • Insects, mites, slugs
  • Diseases (fungal, bacterial, viral, nematodes)
  • Animals (dogs, cats, voles, squirrels, deer, rabbits, woodchucks)
  • Air pollutants (ozone, sulfur dioxide, PAN)
  • Acid rain


Soil problems

  • nutrient deficiencies or excesses
  • improper pH – too acid or too alkaline soil reaction compaction from pedestrian traffic or machinery
  • poor drainage (lack of percolation test, too much cement and asphalt)

Improper plant selection

  • hardiness
  • ultimate landscape size
  • inappropriate genus, species, or variety
  • inattention to pest resistance

Improper plant placement

  • nearness to buildings, traffic areas, other plants
  • nearness to downspouts
  • wrong exposure: north, south, east, west, shade, sun

Improper planting and post-transplant care

  • depth of planting
  • soil testing and preparation
  • root treatment pot-bound material, broken roots, girdling roots
  • follow-up care: mulching, staking, fertilizing, watering

Improper pruning – timing, technique, equipment

Improper irrigation – too frequent, too shallow, not at all, wrong time of day


  • girdling wires
  • vandalism or accident
  • equipment injury: nylon string trimmers, lawn mowers (“mower blight”)

Chemical injury “READ THE LABEL”

  • herbicide misuse
  • other pesticide or chemical misuse
  • road and sidewalk deicing salts
  • miscellaneous chemicals: liquor, oil, gasoline, etc.

Construction and excavation damage (“builders blight”)

  • grade changes: “Fill Kills”
  • soil compaction
  • chemical injuries (spilled lime, paint, etc.)