Some insects really are pests, but most help a garden grow by pollinating plants, recycling soil nutrients and eating pests. The first step to effective insect control is to reduce pesticide use to protect the many beneficial insects and other hardworking helpers living in your garden.
You can prevent insect pest problems without toxic chemicals using the research-based strategies described here. You can also find least-toxic pesticides and learn about the hazards of particular products using the Grow Smart, Grow Safe search tool.
Choose plant varieties that are pest-resistant. Local nurseries can help you choose.
- Native plants rarely have pest problems when planted where sun and soil are right for them.
- Plants with tough or aromatic leaves aren’t easily damaged by insects.
- Some rhododendrons, like "PJM", are resistant to root weevil damage.
- Nurseries sell more pest-resistant plant varieties every year. Stop by your local nursery to check out the wide variety of choices.
Attract pest-eating birds and good bugs to your yard. Habitat attracts helpers.
- Attract beneficial insects with plants that provide nectar, pollen and other food sources.
- Native plants do a great job of attracting beneficial insects and birds to your garden.
- Attract birds with trees, flowering plants and shrubs that provide food and shelter.
Keep your plants healthy. They will be less prone to insect damage.
- Build healthy soil with compost and mulch.
- Give your plants just the water they need.
- Put plants in the right place, where soil and sun conditions match their needs.
Replace problem plants. (They make great compost.)
- If a plant always looks terrible, is it worth the trouble? Replace it with something that will stay healthy in your garden.