Pests, Pesticides & IPM

When prevention hasn't worked effectively, gardeners use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to deal with pests. Integrated Pest Management will help you control weeds, deter damaging insects or disease, and discourage other nuisances.

The Five Steps for Managing Pests 


Identify the plant that is afflicted, then identify whether or not there is a pest. Often plant damage is more likely to be caused by environmental conditions such as drought, overwatering, sunscald, frost or wind burn. Then identify the pest. Make sure you are not looking at a beneficial insect or other natural enemy.


Make regular inspections or counts, note environmental conditions and keep records. This helps to make decisions about whether treatments are needed, and if so, when.

Determine Acceptable Injury Level

A few aphids on a shrub or a weed or two in a lawn are not a problem. At some point though, the numbers could reach an intolerable level. This might be determined by the pest involved and the location of the plant in the landscape.

Select and Implement Treatment

In determining what action to take, select methods that are: least hazardous to human health, least toxic to non target organisms, least damaging to the environment, most likely to produce long-term results, and most cost effective over time. Try the following strategies in this order (or in combination if necessary) and stop when control is achieved:

  • Cultural Controls (e.g. growing pest resistant plant varieties)
  • Physical Controls (e.g. pulling weeds, pruning out infestations, and installing pest barriers or sticky traps)
  • Mechanical (e.g. using machines or devices such as mowers and line-trimmers)
  • Biological (e.g. using natural enemies of pests such as ladybugs and birds)
  • Chemical (Always use the least toxic option and only as a last resort)


Evaluation is essential since it helps determine what worked and what didn't.