Natural Pest Controls for Your Lawn or Garden

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Natural Pest Controls for Your Lawn or Garden

Weeds

To keep weeds from taking over your lawn, select a grass variety that is well suited for the area. Mow no more than 1/3 of the grass blade using a sharp blade to avoid injuring the grass and leave the clippings on the lawn. Irrigate your lawn so the entire root system is moist. A lawn needs 1 inch of water per week. Over seed when planting; that way the birds can eat some and you will still have grass. Hand weed and hoe; both are very effective in removing weeds. Never allow weeds to go to seed as most weeds are prodigious seed producers. Attract birds to your lawn by planting shrubs that produce berries; it is not unusual for sparrows to eat 100 crabgrass seeds. Cardinals and mourning doves are also good at controlling weeds. Mulch will discourage weed growth as well. Keep your yard as natural as possible by planting less grass and more trees, ground cover, and flowers. Use native plants; they will be hardier and more resistant to pests than exotic varieties.

Slugs and snails

Snails and slugs are active at night or on cloudy days, and on sunny days they hide out of the heat and sun. Reduce their presence by removing debris, boards, stones, low-lying leafy branches and dense groundcover from your garden so they have nowhere to hide. Use crushed rock or cinders as mulch because they are irritating to slugs. Handpicking (using gloves) is very effective if done regularly and thoroughly. Place a dish of beer in the ground, buried to the soil level; slugs are attracted to the beer, get drunk and never leave. Attach copper strips to wooden flower beds; copper interacts with the slug’s slime to give it an electric shock.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed, so the best way to get rid of mosquitoes is to get rid of stagnant water. If you cannot do this, introduce mosquito predators such as goldfish into the environment.

Ants

After your morning cup of coffee, mix the grounds into the soil around your plants, particularly near the doors to your house. The grounds will fertilize the soil and repel ants. To repel ants you can also interplant spearmint, lavender, marigolds, or chives in your garden. You might try placing bone meal around the plants, or the juice of hot peppers pods, or liberal amounts of cayenne pepper. Ants hate moving over cayenne. Remember, however, that ants do a lot of good. They aerate the soil; kill and eat any insect they find including termites, fleas and fly larvae; and recycle dead animal and vegetable materials.

Plant-eating insects

Attract birds to your lawn by putting up birdhouses and planting shrubs with berries. Woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches are all adept at finding insect larvae. Use natural plant sprays such as a mixture of two tablespoons pure soap (detergents can harm plants) in one quart of water. Another natural spray consists of two tablespoons of garlic, one teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and one ounce of diatomaceous earth mixed with four quarts of water.

This list is by no means exhaustive; yet you can see there are multiple ways to keep your lawn and garden green without using harmful chemicals.

It is easy to keep your lawn or garden green and growing without using chemicals. In fact, chemicals that were used to battle pests in the past contaminated water, destroyed fish and wildlife, and threatened the environment in many ways. Ironically, the pests became immune to even the strongest pesticides on the market. The best way to grow a healthy lawn or garden is to avoid pesticides.

References:
  • “10 Alternatives to Chemical Pest Control” www.charmeck.org
  • “5 Ways to Fight an Ant Invasion”, The Washington Post,
  • “Garden Friends and Foes” by Richard Headstrom
  • “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gardening” by Jane O’Connor and Emma Sweeney
  • “Cleaning Nature Naturally”, by Kathlyn Gay
  • “Pests of the Garden and Small Farm; a Grower’s Guide to Using Less Pesticide”, by Mary Louise Flint

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Wildlife Helpline 703-440-0800
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