spring pests

Best Practices for controlling pests

The Best Practices approach, sometimes called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an environmentally sensitive approach to dealing with garden pests. This approach uses the scientific understanding of pests and diseases to determine if a problem requires treatment, and if so, how to proceed in the safest effective way while taking into account the specific sensitivities of the site.

Some factors to consider when choosing a solution to your pest problem:

  • What is the safety of the applicator?
  • What is the solution's impact on people and pets (safety and other factors)?
  • Is there a potential for runoff and what are the consequences for groundwater?
  • Does the solution pose a threat to beneficial insects?
  • What is the persistence in the environment (how long does it stick around)?
  • What is the best timing of the treatment to mitigate the above factors?

Steps to Best Practices for Pest Control

Our best practice definitions provide you with clear steps for finding the best way to solve garden problems. Best practices are assured when these steps are applied in each situation:

  1. Identify the weed, pest or disease
  2. Monitor pest numbers, spread of weeds, or extent of disease damage.
  3. Decide what Threshold of infestation requires action. Can the damage be tolerated? Is it really an issue that requires treatment?
  4. Could Prevention eliminate the need for future treatment (appropriate plant selection, cultural controls)?
  5. Control the problem using the safest effective biological, cultural, mechanical/physical and chemical tools.

It should be noted that Best Practices is not Synthetic vs. Organic. If control is warranted then it is a matter of choosing the right tool to achieve an acceptable result that will minimize harm to humans, wildlife and the environment.

Biological control would consist of natural enemies: predators, parasites, pathogens, competitors (ladybugs, beneficial nematodes or bacillus strains, etc.).

Cultural controls would be practices that prevent of slow the spread of the problem (crop rotation, pruning, watering methods, etc.).

Mechanical and physical methods would include traps for pests, bird netting, row covers, mulching, and removing pests by hand.

Chemical control would be the safest effective pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.

For an in-depth explanation of these steps please see the links to the most common garden pests below.

Print out our brochure Best Practices for Integrated Pest Management brochure.

garden snail

Best Practices for Pest Control

As you can see, there is a basic formula one can follow when trying to figure out the proper approach to the various problems we face in our gardens. Starting with right plant/right place will go a long way to ensuring success. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very applicable here. Remember that gardening is a lifelong learning experience. Have fun and enjoy the process.

Our staff is always happy to help identify the correct Best Practices approach for you. Just bring a picture or leaf sample in to our information desk, we will take it from there.

For more information on Best Practices:

Who's bugging you?

black spot on roses

There's some good bugs out there!

Many insects, fungi, and bacteria can benefit your garden in one way or another. Beneficials come in many shapes and sizes and each help your garden in their own way, including controlling pests and pollinating plants.

Creating a suitable habitat in your garden will attract beneficials, helping you to have a sustainable garden and support native wildlife. When relying on beneficials as a form of pest control you must be patient and tolerant of a few pests in your garden, and some damage to your plants. Without a few pests around your beneficials won’t have anything to eat!

Invite beneficials into your Garden

Garden Pests

The Best Practices approach, sometimes called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an environmentally sensitive approach to dealing with garden pests. Printable pdfs can be found on each page.