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Gardening Tips

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Natural Yard Care: Avoid pesticides

Pesticides can be harmful for your family and the environment. Scientists have found 23 pesticides (mostly weed and bug killers) in our local streams. Many of these pesticides are present in levels that may damage salmon and other wildlife.

Overuse of pesticides can cause damage to soil and plant health. Recent studies have shown increased health risks among families that use lawn and garden pesticides, especially among pets and children.

Healthy plants naturally resist diseases and pests. Help your plants defend themselves by building healthy soil, putting them in locations where they can thrive, pulling weeds before they can go to seed, and cleaning up diseased plants to reduce the risk of spread.

Accept a little damage.

Natural predators often bring pest problems under control, but they need time to work. Don't spray at the first sign of damage - nature may control it for you, or plants may just outgrow the damage.

Identify the problem, before you spray, squash or stomp. The problem could be incorrect mowing or pruning, improper watering or other easily corrected practices. The bug that you are concerned about might be a beneficial bug that eats problem pests. Whether it's a bug, disease or weed, you need to identify it to know how to effectively manage it.

If a pest or weed problem develops, use the least toxic remedy:

  • Physical controls like traps, barriers, fabric row covers, or repellants may work for pests.
  • Long handled weed pullers pop out dandelions easily.
  • Mulching once a year reduces weeds in beds.
  • Less toxic products like soaps, horticultural oils, and plant-based insecticides are now available that work for many problems.
  • Beneficial insects that prey on problem bugs are available for sale.
  • Attract beneficial insects by planting a variety of plants that provide pollen and nectar all year.


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