Florida’s Palm Tree Problem

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has spent nearly $28 million on landscaping along the new I-4 Ultimate roadway system. “FDOT is aware of the dead trees and blames the dirt,” according to I-4 Ultimate spokesman Dave Parks. I wonder what the baseline soil samples were? Did the project even include a baseline soil sample? In landscaping and gardening, everything starts from the ground up, and a soil sample is a critical component to making sure that the vegetation has the most optimal environment to start with.

Dead palm trees along I-4.

Florida is conducive to having a wide variety of soil conditions, a high degree of
variable weather and environmental factors, and some of the most stringent
fertilizer laws in the nation. With so much invested in the landscaping project
that is subject to so much variability and risk, soil testing is critical to mitigating
these risks.

The USDA recommends everyone perform an annual soil sample to monitor soil
health. As this project continues from here, FDOT should consider performing
baseline soil tests to protect the state’s significant investment and to ensure that any soil amendments aimed at healthy landscapes also protect the environment.

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