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The Practical Gardener

IPM and re-thinking your way to a lower maintenance garden

Posted on October 04, 2010 by Paige

Low maintenance planting

IPM was developed for agriculture, where people’s livelihoods rest on the yields and appearance of what they produce.  Consequently, preventing and controlling pests, diseases and weeds that can impact the bottom line is essential.  To protect that bottom line in the least toxic, invasive and costly way possibly is how IPM decisions are made on farms.

The purpose of a home garden is different. Be it a place to play (lawn darts, soccer), relax, eat, grow food, welcome wildlife or merely to look good, our income is not dependent on what is happening in our yard. So the primary reason to control pests, diseases and weeds is aesthetics.  Clearly, if the ag people don’t need to totally obliterate whatever their problem is, neither do we.

So why all the pesticides and herbicides for sale everywhere?

I think there are two main reasons.

  1. People are disenchanted with their gardens because they are too much work and don’t look all that good.  We hope that a bottle or bag will be a quick and magical cure-all when really the garden needs an overhaul and/or we need to learn a few low maintenance tips.
  2. Bugs and lawn weeds have gotten a bad rap and we have succumbed to big businesses ads.

So the next time you think of reaching for a bottle of pest death, stop. Remember Canada, “pesticides should only be used when and where there is a need.” (See the 4/26/2010 post.) Then, make a list of everything that makes you unhappy in your yard and assess the causes.  Are the bugs etc. at the top of the list? Probably not.

One approach would be to ignore the bugs, etc. and deal with the higher priority issues and by the time you’re done, your pest/disease problem may be gone. If not, you will hopefully be so busy enjoying your new, improved, lower maintenance yard that you don’t care anymore.  If that doesn’t work for you, stay tuned.

I guess you could call this one IPM method #2 – re-thinking what is a problem.

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