Natural pest control is less expensive than buying and applying pesticides, and it’s safer for your garden, your family, the natural wildlife and the environment.
Each year North American homes use approximately 136 million pounds of pesticides on lawns and gardens, and in the home. In fact, homeowners use about three times the amount of pesticides as farmers. Most wildlife pest poisonings, and most surface water contamination from pesticides, come from single-family homes.
For safety information about common pesticides, see the Audubon Pesticide Chart.
The easiest way to prevent insect damage in your garden is to discourage them from coming in the first place. A healthy garden is the best defence.
- Pull out any weak plants. They may already be infected. If not, they will attract predators. Pull the plant and dispose of it away from the garden area.
- Build healthy, organic soil. Natural composting methods, mulching and top-dressing your soil with compost or natural fertilizer is the best way to develop strong, vigorous plants.
- Seaweed mulch or spray. Seaweed contains trace elements such as iron, zinc, barium, calcium, sulfur and magnesium, which promote healthy development in plants. Seaweed fertilizer in mulch or spray form will enhance growth and give plants the strength to withstand disease. Seaweed mulch also repels slugs.
- Minimize insect habitat. Clear garden area of debris and weeds which are breeding places for insects. Use clean mulch.
- Interplant and rotate crops. Insect pests are often plant specific. When plantings are mixed, pests are less likely to spread throughout a crop. Rotating crops each year is a common method to avoid re-infestation of pests which have over-wintered in the bed.
- Keep foliage dry. Water early so foliage will be dry for most of the day. Wet foliage encourages insect and fungal damage to your plants. See our page on drip-irrigation for methods of delivering water to the root systems without wetting the foliage.
- Disinfect. If you’ve been working with infested plants, clean your tools before moving on to other garden areas. This will reduce the speed of invading insects.