Chemicals, Weeds, Pests… Oh My!
One of the Naturally Beautiful Backyard (NBB) program’s main goals is to educate Clark County residents about how they can reduce the use of chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers) in their landscapes and keep pollutants out of our watershed. You’d be surprised how easy it is for chemicals and other pollutants to find their way from our yards into nearby surface water, and even into the water we drink.
Reducing the use of chemicals can help increase beneficial soil microbe activity and enhance wildlife habitat, both of which contribute to a healthy watershed.
A healthy watershed benefits our community and the entire region. So limiting chemical use helps ensure a healthy environment for wildlife and people, too.
Select Disease-resistant Plants
Diseases are the most difficult problem to remedy without chemicals. So choosing plants that are immune to typical landscape diseases can really help. Choosing native plants can help, too. But be advised that even native plants can be susceptible to typical landscape diseases.
There is a saying in landscaping: Right plant / Right place. It means selecting plants that fit into the space that is available, and that need the amount sun, water, soil composition, etc. that is available in that particular space. It also means evaluating a plant’s growth characteristics in accordance to your tolerance to do work and use chemicals. If you are dedicated to not using chemicals as a measure of protecting both wildlife and the watershed, then you should select plants that support that desire.
Employ Beneficial Insects
Over 90% of the insects in our region are beneficial. They do more good than harm, and eat or otherwise destroy many of the trouble-makers.
A lot of insecticides kill more than just the few bugs that are actually pests. Systemic insecticides will kill even good insects that munch on the plant. Many contact insecticides will kill whatever insect they touch.
“But they are eating my plants,” you lament! Yes, they are, but consider this: If you arrange to have an army of beneficial insects live among your plants, they would be more than happy to eliminate most all of the bad insects. All they need are some ‘host’ plants to call home.
Yeah, slugs are a true menace. We don’t know of any insects that eat them. Got chickens?
Hand-picking and destroying the few pests that aren’t managed by beneficial insects is the way to go. Yes, we realize this is work. But your watershed thanks you!
You can also hand-pick diseased leaves, fruit, etc from plants as an alternative to chemical use.
Become familiar with your landscape and how things should appear when it is healthy. Doing so can help you see when things are not quite right. And you'll have a jump-start on solving problems before they get out of hand.
Remove Noxious Weeds
While we promote the use of chemicals only as a last resort, we realize it is not always possible to avoid the use of chemical products entirely. You may have a large area of your yard being overtaken by invasive or aggressive plants or insects that should be eliminated before they get out of control.
In such cases (like English ivy, thistle, blackberry, tansy ragwort, etc.), it is important to correctly identify the problem and choose an appropriate chemical product to treat it. Be sure to carefully follow the mixing and application instructions in order to protect yourself, your family, and the environment.
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