Tips for Prevention and Control of Garden Pests

Garden pests are of the, well…garden variety: worms, slugs, caterpillars, snails, birds. Insects are particularly prevalent and can be quite harmful to your garden and difficult to eradicate.

Once the damage is done, it can be hard to recover but the best way to keep insects from wreaking havoc is by keeping them from ever getting started.

Luckily, there are two powerful ways to fight problems: exclusion and intervention.

Exclusion begins with research: familiarize yourself with plants that are “pest-friendly” in your area and avoid them in your garden plan.

Choose plants known to be pest-resistant, and learn which are most prevalent in your area-their behavior will drive the approach you take to keep them at bay if they’ve already taken up refuge.

An Ounce of Prevention: Exclusion

Garden pest management should focus on preventing or reducing pest populations while minimizing damage.

Complete eradication may not be possible, but the amount and frequency of problems can be significantly reduced. Prevention starts with pest-proofing, also known as exclusion.

These techniques work to keep pests out, and can include:

  • Landscape Management: Remove dead plant matter and weeds and turn uncultivated soil regularly to dislodge insects in the ground. Plants that harbor pests should be removed and destroyed to keep offending pests from returning.
  • Distractions and Barriers: Bird feeders may keep birds from dining on your plants (and spiff up your garden). Less aesthetic measures can also diminish pests-fences, lights, noisemakers-and many of these are effective at keeping larger pests such as rabbits from nibbling on your vegetables.
  • Cultivation: Plant to allow good growth and discourage pests through proper spacing, watering and fertilization, weed control and timely harvesting.

A Pound of Cure: Intervention

If pests have already established themselves, intervention should be fast and direct. Ideally, the methods you choose should minimize environmental damage.

  • Biological Methods: Defeat pests by hitting them with what they hate most: their natural enemies. For example, lady beetles can be used to destroy aphids. You might also try using different plants to create food sources for insects and distract them from the plants you want to preserve.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): IPM involves several techniques which could occasionally include careful use of pest control materials. IPM is considered effective and focuses on environmentally conscious treatments and proactive prevention.

A well-managed garden will bring you hours of enjoyment. Educate yourself about common garden problems and treatments and you’ll be enjoying the fruits-and vegetables-of your efforts in no time

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

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