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The Garden Writers Association

Last Update 06/03/08

Rid Your Lawn and Garden of Insects Through Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a new name for an old practice --that of considering all available methods of pest control rather than turning to pesticides alone. According to the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA), everyone can practice IPM, benefiting the environment, the lawn and the garden.

IPM is new in that nurserymen, farmers and other professionals have only begun to use it on a concerted basis in the past ten years or so. It has a long history, however, in that it combines traditional methods of pest control under one cohesive plan.

IPM consists of using a variety of measures to manage insects and weeds in your yard and garden and cut down on their presence and impact. You can implement an IPM pro-gram by building your garden around pest resistant plants and shrubs, properly maintaining your plants, keeping an eye out for pests before they arrive, and taking rapid steps to eliminate them once they are present.

If you'd like to use IPM to curb problems with insects and disease in your lawn or flower beds, says ANLA, follow these principles:

  • avoid cultural practices which encourage pests, such as over-watering or poor pruning
  • select plants which will thrive in your yard/garden's conditions (sun or shade, wet/dry, etc.)
  • use plants which resist pests
  • keep an eye out for insect and disease problems
  • introduce a pest's natural predators
  • properly prune your plants and pick off any insects you find
  • use an appropriate pesticide when necessary.

Cultural Practices

Certain cultural practices, such as over-watering or over-fertilizing, can increase the number of pests in your lawn or garden. The first step in IPM is to change any of your gardening habits which may actually be encouraging pests to gather and/or reproduce in your lawn or garden.

Pest-Resistant Plants

Just as you can select plants, flowers, trees and shrubs based upon how much water they require or how much maintenance they demand, you can also choose vegetation for its ability to withstand insects.

Some trees and plants are more hardy and are not attractive to pests. Or, they may be better able to withstand the damage caused by in-sects. If you would like to know which of these plants would prosper in your climatic zone, you can ask the professionals at your local garden center.

Watching for Insects

One of the most important parts of IPM is carefully examining your plants for infestation. This practice has been used successfully by farmers for years. Since you will be working to identify insects and diseases when they first appear, you will have a head start on knowing which ones are harmful and which ones should be controlled. Your garden center or extension service professionals can help you identify in-sects, diseases and cultural problems.

Pruning and Insect Removal

Despite taking all of these precautions, it is likely that at some point you will encounter pests in your yard/garden. Following the principles of IPM, however, you should not necessarily spray at the first sign of insects. In some instances, you may pick the insects off of the plants, especially if there are only a few insects or they are restricted to one or two plants. If you are able to destroy all of the harmful insects that you see, you may be able to prevent them from multiplying and infesting the rest of your yard or garden. Another way to avoid spraying at the first sign of some insect and disease problems is to prune out the affected parts of the individual plant or tree rather than using pesticides on the entire site. Pests removed by hand-picking or pruning should be disposed of away from the garden.

Encouraging Natural Predators

If pests are widespread in your site, you may be able to eliminate many of them by encouraging natural predators. Natural predators are other in-sects who will feed on the pests you are seeking to eliminate. Insects like ladybugs and praying mantis can devour hundreds of unwanted aphids or other pests. Learn to identify beneficial insects. If you have them, avoid spraying pesticides which may kill them. You may be able to purchase and introduce more predators into your garden. The experts at your local garden center can advise you on which predators to use in your garden or yard.

Introducing natural predators is especially effective in an enclosed area, such as a greenhouse.

Pesticide Choices

IPM involves the judicious use of pesticides to eliminate those harmful pests which can't be destroyed any other way. There are a number of pesticides on the market which, used closely following label directions, provide a safe way to prevent insects from destroying your garden or yard. Thanks to IPM, you can successfully control the insect population in your area and have a more beautiful and healthy landscape.


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