Weed and Pest Control
Consider: Beneficial Insects, Garden Defense, Insect Control, Mosquito Control, and Poison Ivy and Oak Killer, and Weed Killer.
Go organic when it comes to weed control.
Dandelions are one of the most delightful indicators that spring is finally on its way, they can quickly become unsightly. In a similar way, ragweed, Queen Anne’s lace, and crabgrass can all take their turns dominating your lawn as spring and summer progress. Unfortunately, many people believe that the only way to get rid of weeds and fungal infestations is to use harmful herbicides. Depending on the type of weed you are trying to control, you may not need any chemicals at all!
In many cases, if you wait for the right time in the weed's life cycle, one good cutting with the lawn mower will eliminate them. For example, if you check with your county extension agency or local lawn and garden center, they should be able to tell you when cutting a weed will prevent it from growing back and developing seeds for the next year.
It’s also helpful to set your mower blade to a height that will enable grass plants to shade out the weeds that are now weakened. If you want to keep your lawn very short, you may want to select a type of grass more suitable for golf courses. Unfortunately, common types of lawn grass won’t do as well compared to weeds under these conditions.
Corn Gluten Meal
When applied in the fall, this natural remedy will prevent many types of weed seeds from germinating. If you see weeds starting to grow in the early spring, give them a second application of corn gluten meal. Unfortunately, this remedy will not be effective once the plants have begun to develop past the early germination stage – so get on top of it!
A weed torch utilizes propane and a nozzle to apply heat to leaves and stems. These can be useful if you’re trying to control weeds that climb up between stones or along edgings, like ivy or roses. If you’re trying to eliminate poison ivy, it’s best not to use a weed torch. The harmful oils found in the plant don’t break apart because of heat or burning. The soot and oil can land on trees or neighboring plants and may remain active for up to five years.
Eugenol and Other Plant Based Herbicides
Surprisingly enough, some plants produce chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants as a defense mechanism. These compounds can be useful as natural herbicides, since you aren’t introducing foreign chemicals into the environment. You can buy a number of products that contain Eugenol and other chemicals known to target weeds. Of course, before purchasing these formulas, it is still best to see if you can eliminate weeds another way and to make sure that the formula you purchase will work on the specific weeds in your lawn.
When all else fails, you can eliminate weeds by manually pulling them out – but this can be a big job if you’ve got a large lawn. The best time to weed by hand is after it rains, since you’ll have an easier time removing the roots of stubborn plants like dandelions and crabgrass. That said, if you don’t have the time to weed your lawn, there are still a number of safe, reliable, and non-chemical methods that will control weeds as well as synthetic herbicides.
Go organic when it comes to pest control
Before you decide to use any organic pest control product, take the time to correctly identify the pest and see if it will respond to cultural controls, such as simple handpicking.
The Basic Biologicals - The oldest and best known of biological pesticides is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. kurstaki), which remains a top remedy for leaf-eating caterpillars. Bt is based on a naturally occurring soil bacterium that causes the insect’s gut to rupture several hours after it eats it. A newer biological pesticide called spinosad is a fermented brew of two naturally occurring bacteria, and it slowly paralyzes insects after they eat it. Spinosad is widely used in fire ant baits, and it is also useful for controlling leaf-eating beetles, such as Mexican bean beetles and Colorado potato beetles. Where cabbageworms, armyworms, European corn borers or other caterpillars require repeated treatment, experts recommend alternating Bt with spinosad to keep insects from becoming resistant.
Itchy Irritants - Although diatomaceous earth feels as soft as talcum powder in your hand, under a microscope you would see that each particle has sharp edges. When enough gets wedged into the head and leg joints of soft-bodied insects, they dry up and die. Diatomaceous earth deters slug feeding, too. The effects are short-lived because it seeps into mulch and soil after rain, but a thorough, well-timed dusting can still give good control of aphids, leafhoppers, and slugs or snails. In contrast, the particles of kaolin clay are so tiny that they form a thin paint when mixed with water. Leaves covered with the stuff are ignored by many common pests, and those that do nibble on clay-coated leaves usually move on. Organically grown produce that has traces of a dusty off-white residue was probably treated with kaolin clay.
Soaps and Oils - Aphids, mites and other small sucking insects that don’t have much of an exoskeleton (shell) often can be controlled with two applications of insecticidal soap, five to seven days apart. Assuming you get the soap on the insects (which is crucial), its fatty acids cause the bugs to die through desiccation. For best results, blast infested plants with a strong spray of water to dislodge offenders, then apply insecticidal soap to kill any missed by the water spray. (Once tiny sucking insects are washed to the ground, few make it back up to tender new growing tips.) Use the soap sparingly, as it can reduce yields of some crops. And know that plant leaves can be damaged if you apply insecticidal soap on a hot, sunny day. Oils that clog up insects’ sensory and breathing systems can be useful in the control of whiteflies and a few other pests. Most horticultural oils are now made from soybean oil, made into a water-soluble emulsion. (These oils may burn plant leaves in hot weather.) If you’re going to go the oil route, in most cases it is best to opt for neem oil, which is derived from the tropical neem tree. After dozens of studies, neem has not turned out to be the big fix for garden pests it was hoped to be, yet it has earned recognition for control of squash bugs, Mexican bean beetles and a few other hard-to-control bad boys. In addition to the smothering action of neem oil, contact with or ingestion of neem’s active ingredient slows feeding and radically reduces reproduction. Neem seldom eliminates pests altogether, but it often reduces them to levels that can be ignored or managed by handpicking.
Employing Natural Enemies - If you’re willing to pay close attention to details of timing, temperature and moisture, you can do some amazing things with microscopic life-forms, like wipe out every cutworm in a newly dug bed with beneficial nematodes. Some people have even had luck injecting these tiny parasitic eelworms into the stems of squash plants infested with squash vine borers, and Japanese beetle grubs make fine hosts for nematodes, too. Where grasshoppers are the biggest problem, the farmscaping approach that works best is to maintain a moist, grassy area away from your garden, and encourage grasshoppers to congregate there by mowing around it. In early spring, just as grasshoppers begin to emerge, place baits that contain the spores of Nosema locustae in and around the grasshopper habitat. Young grasshoppers that eat the bait will grow weak and die. Underground, milky spore disease, applied in fall or early spring, does a similar number on Japanese beetle larvae.
Microbial block - The new kid on the microbial block is Beauveria bassiana fungus, the spores of which germinate and grow on whiteflies, thrips and several other pests, turning them into white mummies. It’s a useful tactic, but may result in unwanted casualties of ladybeetles and other susceptible insects.
Chicken little has a big bite! - Chickens, ducks, guineas and turkeys are often key players on modern homesteads, but you may be surprised at the pest control benefits that could apply to your property. Recent reports indicate that poultry help reduce pest problems like: ticks, mosquitoes, flies, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, fire ants, termites, pill bugs, grubs, crickets, cabbageworms and millipedes. Many towns and cities restrict backyard poultry, but “what is old is new again.” Perhaps the times will change…back. Chicken little is more than just food…now food for thought.
The right home improvement products, techniques, and services:
Contractors, home improvement stores, and specialty shops in your area may not yet have a complete familiarity with the ‘green’ opportunities, products, system integration, and overall savings potential. So, you may get some resistance, since people in general are typically more comfortable recommending something that they are already familiar with rather than something new. To help break the inertia, use the information across this website like our Return on Investment Master ROI Table. Also feel free to post a question in our forum on the message board about a particular need for your home relative to your area. Our team has spent multiple years aggregating research from public and private sector performance reports and from manufacturers and homeowners across the country in order to provide you with the perspective you may need to see the initial payback and long term advantages. Environmental enthusiasts and leading institutions like the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Realtors, see the value and link into our resources to support their members.
The Green Home:
For your overall home improvement, you can save money, improve your family’s health, and save the planet. Find out for free how much it will cost to do different types of home improvement in your home from a qualified and member approved contractor in your area. Get a FREE Quote . Plus, regardless of the size and scope of your home improvement project, save money and keep your home clean with the top rated chemical free and concentrated Green Home Cleaning Products.
Home Improvement Basics:
When it comes to home improvement basics, look for interior home improvements like creating a clean, safe, and healthy home through sustainable ‘green’ furniture, home décor, zero VOC and Interior Paint, plus ENERGY STAR Appliances and Electronics. For energy and utility savings you can focus on insulation and air sealing, windows, doors, lighting and skylights, water saving plumbing opportunities, and high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems. On the outside of your house, look for exterior home improvement opportunities through landscape design and gardening plus solar energy, wind and other power sources. If you are undertaking a major home renovation, an additions, or building a new home, then take the lead to ‘go green’ in as many ways as possible to save money and the environment.