Posts Tagged With: diy solutions

Keeping Critters at Bay Part 3: No Poison Pest Control

No Poison Pest ControlDiscovering that hordes of insects have made your garden their next buffet lunch can cause anyone to reach for the most toxic chemical repellant out there, just to get rid of ’em – fast. Before you decide to race off to your local garden center though, take a minute and look into using a non-chemical approach for controlling critters. Keeping poison out of your yard will help keep pests away from you and the ones you love.

Go Au Naturale

Non-chemical pest control methods have advantages over standard chemical pest control. They are generally effective for longer periods of time versus chemicals. Not to mention, they cost less. Pests do not build up immunity to non-chemical treatments the way they do manmade chemicals. Natural pest control has fewer restrictions since they are safe for humans and the environment. There are two basic categories of non-chemical pest control – biological and manual treatments.

Biological Pest Controls

  • Beneficial Predators
  • Purple Martins and other birds that eat insects
  • Bats
  • Lady Bugs
  • Spiders
  • Centipedes
  • Dragonflies
  • Parasitoids – These are miniature wasps that lay their eggs inside the pest. When the young are born they kill the host insect.
  • Microscopic Pathogens – These are fungi, bacteria and viruses like milky spore disease, which attacks Japanese Beetles. Many of these can be found commercially.
  • Biochemical pesticides – These include pheromones that lure insects into traps and juvenile hormones, which interfere with the insect’s normal growth and reproductive functions.

Manual Methods of Pest Control

  • Spading and hoeing to cut up weeds and eliminate insect breeding sites
  • Hand picking weeds
  • Setting traps for rats, mice and other critters so they can be re-released elsewhere
  • Mulching to reduce weed growth

Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Not every bug has to die. There are actually some insects out there that are beneficial for your garden. If you use chemical pesticides you run the risk of killing off the good bugs as well as the bad. Here are a few friendly critters that you may want to welcome into your garden.

  • Brachonids, Chalcids and Ichneumon – Leaf eating caterpillars
  • Lady Bugs – Aphids, mites, white flies and scale
  • Lacewings – Aphids
  • Hover flies – Aphids
  • Praying Mantas – Most insects
  • Nematodes – Cutworms and Beetles

A Sprinkle a Day Keeps Bugs Away

If you are just overrun with pests and need something to stem the tide, there are plenty of non-toxic remedies you can buy or make yourself. One of the best is called Diatomaceous earth (food grade). It is a chalky power made from the fossilized remains of Diatoms, which is a type of hard shelled algae. This multi-purposed talc prevents everything from earwigs, slugs and other soft bodied pests to fleas, ants and cockroaches. Just sprinkle it around the edge of your garden or lawn (anywhere the insects will crawl through it) and the pests will pick up the dust and die. Warning: You can even use it to treat Fido for fleas!

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that homeowners actually use about three times the amount of chemical pesticides in their yards and gardens than farmers. That’s a scary statistic when you consider that the water runoff from homes in your neighborhood may wind up in your drinking water. What is the best way to rid your garden or lawn of pests? The best defense is a good offense. Start with a healthy garden or lawn.

  • Pull out weak plants – They may be infected or can attract pests.
  • Build up healthy organic soil – Top dressing your soil with compost or natural fertilizer will help develop strong plants.
  • Use seaweed mulch or spray – Seaweed contains trace elements of iron, zinc and sulfur, which will enhance growth. It also repels some insects.
  • Get rid of debris – Minimize insect habitat.
  • Interplant and rotate crops – Insects usually like certain plants. Planting in different areas of your yard each season will keep pests from coming back and spreading.
  • Keep foliage dry – Water early so foliage can dry. Wet plants encourage fungi growth and insect damage.
  • Disinfect – If you’ve been working with infected plants, clean tools before moving to another area of garden.

Learn more about different types of pesticides (organic pesticides do exist), in our blog post

Protecting Plants from Pests.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to mulch, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keeping Critters at Bay Part 2: Solutions for Moles & Raccoons

Rid Yard of Moles & RaccoonsWhile admiring your recently groomed landscape, you notice a raised dirt trail snaking its way through the yard. No mole is going to destroy your lush sea of green grass or ruin your veggies. But before you go into combat mode and start acting like Bill Murray in Caddyshack, take a breath. There might be a simpler (more natural) way to battle moles and other pests without having to resort to land mines.

Know Thine Enemy

Bill Murray’s plan for troublesome rodents works fine – especially for laughs. Why not learn a little bit about the pesky mole, first? They are insectivores and from the same family as bats. Their main diet consists of insects, grubs and larvae like earthworms. They are around 4-8 inches in length with paddle-like front feet and have little to no vision. What moles are best at is digging. They can tunnel up to 100 ft per day. Only one other mole skill may rival this – they eat day and night.

Traps Aren’t the Only Way

How do you battle this underground critter? Experts say that traps work the best at eliminating moles, raccoons and other pests, but we’d prefer to go a more humane route first. Home remedies have had spotty success, but they are worth a try. Many of these measures need to be taken before you plant your gardens. However, if your yard consistently has moles and other pests then you may find them helpful.

  • Trench around your garden – Dig a trench around your garden to force moles and other burrowing pests to tunnel in a new direction. Keep in mind though, this isn’t practical for a large garden or lawn and the labor is intense.
  • Line your garden bed with wire – Dig down deep enough to place a layer of wire mesh in the bottom and along the sides of your garden area. This will force the pests to seek easier food sources.
  • Eliminate grubs – Getting rid of one of the mole’s favorite foods will cause them to seek elsewhere. The only problem is that earthworms are still available in your garden and you need them to keep your soil healthy.
  • Sprinkle kitty litter – By spreading kitty litter into the mole holes the smell will deter the moles from returning to the tunnel. Unfortunately they will dig alternate ones.

Plants that Chase Pests Away

A natural way to eliminate a wide variety of pests including moles, raccoons and even the heinous mosquito is to practice companion gardening. For years farmers have been planting “companion” plants in their vegetable gardens to create a vegetative barrier that deters insects and pests. Companion plants are ones that pests have a natural aversion to like marigolds, daffodils and Crown Imperial (Fritillarias). Adding these plants around your lawn or garden may help deter moles, raccoons and squirrels from eating away at your veggies or flowers.

Here is a short list of plants and the pest/s they repel:

  • Calendula (pot marigold) – raccoons and dogs (not a true marigold, so moles will not be repelled)
  • Castor beans – moles (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Crown Imperial – rabbits, mice, moles, voles and ground squirrels
  • Daffodils – moles and deer
  • Garlic – aphids, Japanese beetles and rabbits
  • Lavender – moths, fleas and mosquitoes
  • Mexican Marigolds – insects, rabbits and moles
  • Mole Plant – moles and ground squirrels (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Oregano – pests in general

Put Down the Dynamite

Keeping critters at bay doesn’t have to be a war of wills. There are natural solutions you can try before you turn to setting traps or using chemicals. Surrounding your garden or lawn with plants that naturally repel pests looks great and won’t poison your soil. It’s a win-win. Besides, if you do go all “Caddyshack” and dynamite the mole holes, you will eventually have to fill them back in. So leave the explosives alone.

If you are determined to go with a chemical deterrent, then check out our blog post Protecting Plants from Pests, for the lowdown on safely using pesticides to ward off unwanted visitors to your lawn or garden.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From trenchers to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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