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Denver Tree Service: An Introduction to Integrated Pest Management

August 9, 2017

Every gardener will have to deal with pest problems at some point, regardless of how well they care for their lawns. There are many different ways to handle pests, but it’s recommended that you use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to solve your pest problem. What is IPM? How can a Denver tree service company help? Here’s everything that you need to know to protect your lawn:

Defining Integrated Pest Management

IPM is a strategy that uses a combination of biological, cultural, mechanical, physical, and chemical controls to prevent pests and the damage that they cause. Many tree homeowners immediately turn to chemical pesticides when they spot an infestation in their lawn. However, chemical pesticides are not always the best option. People who choose to take an IPM approach will always consider each and every option available before deciding how to treat the problem. When making this decision, they will consider which option poses the least amount of risk to humans’ health, the environment, and other non-harmful organisms that reside on the lawn.  

But, IPM is not just about resolving pest problems as they arise. Another goal of IPM is to be proactive and prevent pest problems before they begin. This can be done by planting trees that have a high resistance to pests and keeping plants healthy so they are strong enough to fight off pests on their own.

Now that you understand what IPM is, it’s time to take a look at the different pest controls that can be used when implementing this strategy.

Cultural Controls

What kind of culture have you created in your lawn? In this context, “culture” refers to everything from the plants that you choose to the time that you water your lawn. In order to prevent pests from damaging your lawn, here are some of the cultural controls that you should consider:
  • Water in the morning instead of the evening. If you turn the sprinklers on in the evening, water droplets will cling to your lawn and create an ideal environment for fungus and pests. If you water your lawn in the morning, these water droplets will evaporate as temperatures rise in the afternoon. Learn the smarter way to water your lawn.
  • Give your plants the chance to thrive by researching where they grow best. If a plant needs to be placed in a sunny spot, don’t make the mistake of putting it in the shade. Likewise, plants that are not resistant to droughts should not be planted in your lawn if you live in a very dry region. Plants that are not placed in their ideal environments are more vulnerable to pests and diseases.
  • Research pest-resistant plants. Find out what plants are resistant to pests and diseases and choose as many of these as possible for your lawn. Some good choices are chrysanthemums, lavender, scented marigolds, and borage.
  • Water the base of the plants instead of the tops. Watering the leaves of your plants could leave them vulnerable to certain fungal diseases that thrive in this type of environment. Instead of letting water spray all over the plant, direct the water right at the roots.

It may take a little extra effort to control the culture of your lawn, but it’s definitely worth it to ensure that your plants are protected from harm. If you aren’t sure where to start to implement cultural controls in your lawn, contact a landscaping professional for some pointers.

Biological Controls

Every organism has a natural enemy—even pests. Implementing biological controls involves identifying natural enemies of pests and diseases and ensuring these enemies are present in your lawn. For example, there are parasitic insects that will lay their eggs on or inside pests, so when the eggs hatch, the parasites feed on and destroy the pests. Here are some of the natural enemies that are often used as biological controls:
  • Lady beetles are enemies to aphids, giant whiteflies, and spider mites.
  • Lace wings are enemies to aphids, caterpillars, lace bugs, mealy bugs, and spider mites.
  • Parasitic wasps are enemies to carpenter worms, elm leaf beetles, thrips, and psyllids.
  • Parasitic flies are enemies to cottony cushion scales, elm leaf beetles, slugs, and snails.

Of course, you should never introduce any new organisms in your lawn without first consulting with a professional.

Mechanical and Physical Controls

Mechanical and physical controls are designed to kill pests that are already present in the lawn, prevent pests from invading the lawn, or make the environment unpleasant so pests have no interest in infesting the area.

An example of a mechanical control would be a trap that catches rats or other small rodents. On the other hand, examples of physical controls would be a layer of mulch that prevents weeds from growing or physical barriers to prevent animals from entering a certain area of your lawn.

Pesticide Controls

Finally, there are pesticide controls, which are often thought of as a last resort and usually used along with a combination of the other three types of controls. There are several different types of pesticides, so it’s important to talk to a professional to determine which is the best choice for your lawn. For example, fungicides should be used to treat fungal diseases, so if you use this type of chemical to fight off insects, it probably won’t be effective.

When using chemical controls, it’s imperative that you always choose the option that will cause the least amount of harm to people, the environment, and any other organisms or plants that you are not trying to target. A professional can help you select an appropriate strategy for your needs.

Are you interested in learning more about IPM and how this strategy can be implemented to protect your lawn? If so, contact the professionals. Arbor Garden is a locally owned and operated tree services company that specializes in tree pruning, removing, stump removal, planting, and pest management. Our team will be able to answer your questions and determine how we can help protect your trees. Contact us today to learn more about our services and receive a free estimate.