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Four Natural Methods for a Pest-Free Garden
Four Natural Methods for a Pest-Free Garden Image

The combination of shelter-in-place and the lovely warm weather means we’re all spending more time in our gardens. But we aren’t the only ones enjoying summer – pests are too! You may want to get rid of them as soon as you can, but there are many actions you might take that will harm our waterways and even the plants you’re trying to protect! 

 

How does this happen? Whenever rainfall or overwatering from sprinklers occurs, what’s on the ground gets carried into our storm drains and then goes untreated into our water system and then flows untreated into our local rivers, creeks, lakes, and bays. So, avoiding harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides is important. Don’t fret, the UC Integrated Pest Management Program shares plenty of natural methods you can do to keep your garden happy, healthy, and free of pests, including: 

 

Forget the fertilizer. In many cases, a layer of mulch will do the trick when it comes to keeping soil healthy in your native garden. By adding fertilizer to the mix, you run the risk of over-nourishing plants and ultimately cutting their lifespan short. LA Sanitation and Environment gives away free mulch at 11 locations throughout the city! Make sure to check our website for the most up to date information about public access and opening hours of locations.

 

Use integrated pest management (IPM). This approach offers a natural and effective alternative to conventional methods of applying pesticides for pest control – most pests can be managed without pesticides! In IPM, you treat the issue and prevent it from later occurring again instead of just treating the effect of the issue (such as the endless aphids in your garden). This involves looking at what is allowing the pest to thrive and then creating conditions that are unfavorable for the pest. Some methods include: 

  • Plug entryways for pests by using barriers, screens, and caulk
  • Increase the amount of beneficial insects (“good bugs”) like ladybugs that are natural enemies to garden pests. Only about 1% of all insects and mites are harmful!  

 

Incorporate soil solarization. Have you ever seen plastic above a field of crops and wonder what it’s doing there? Well, it’s a way to improve disease and weed control! How? By increasing the soil temperature during the hot summer months. This method also helps plants grow faster and with higher and better-quality yields. 

 

Design an environmentally-friendly landscape. There are various simple landscaping design choices you can make that reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, avoid runoff, and conserve water. Below are some ideas that are covered in detail here:

  • Install porous surfaces in unplanted areas
  • Improve water absorption in planted areas
  • Choose plants that conserve water, reduce runoff, and resist pest problems
  • Create landscape features to collect runoff water
  • Install and properly operate irrigation systems and equipment 

Are you excited about all the ways you can avoid using chemical fertilizers and pesticides? Want to talk more about the methods we described? We’re happy to speak with you and answer any questions or comments! Email us at lastormwater@lacity.org.

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