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CityLink Seattle

FAQ: Are pesticides the only effective option to avoid pests and weeds?

A: No! Natural pest and weed control methods are just as effective.

Weeding Ruth HartnupWhether you’re a novice or expert gardener, pests and weeds can be a source of frustration. Pesticides are marketed as a powerful resource for your garden troubles, but their power can quickly become harmful. Overuse of pesticides can cause soil and plant damage, poison wildlife like birds and salmon, and harm human health. So it’s a good idea to avoid pesticides. The good news is it’s possible to maintain a healthy garden or landscape without them! Below are some nontoxic tips if your garden or landscape develops a pest or weed problem.

Controlling Weeds:

  • Long handled weed pullers can pop dandelions (and similar weeds) out easily.
  • Mulching once a year reduces weeds in garden beds.

Avoiding Pests:

  • Consider physical controls like traps, barriers, or fabric row covers for pests.
  • Less toxic products like soaps, horticultural oils, and plant-based insecticides are now available (see a list of safer products here).
  • Beneficial insects that prey on problem bugs are available for sale, or you can attract these “good bugs”—ground beetles, lady bugs, and lacewings to name a few—by planting a variety of plants that provide pollen and nectar all year.
  • If you must use a chemical pesticide, use the least toxic product available and spot apply it (don’t spread it all over your yard). Always use protective gear, follow instructions exactly (more is not better), and keep children and pets out of application areas.

Click here to find more helpful tips and resources for natural pest, weed, and plant disease control. Don’t forget, you can call the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or email help@gardenhotline.org for expert help.

(Photo courtesy of Ruth Hartnup via flickr.)

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