Landscaping For Pest Prevention

What you do with your landscape has a direct effect on the pest population on your property, and those attempting to enter your home. How you build your landscape, and how you maintain it is a major factor in both outdoor and indoor pest prevention. Your landscape is an insect and rodent magnet, it will attract them, or it will help to repel them, based on how you manage it.

Landscape pest control factors

  • Plant choice
  • Plant placement
  • Plant care
Every problem faced in landscape management, and particularly in landscape management for optimum pest control fits under one of the 3.

Plant choice

Plant choice is, in most ways, the most important factor. Choose the right plants, and the rest of the battle is easy. Choose varieties that have a resistance to the types of pests and diseases that live in your area. It would be impossible for me to recommend the right individual landscape plants for every area of the country, but I can make a recommendation for a type of plants that will always be the right choice: Native plants. That is, plants that grow naturally in your area, those that existed there before someone or something brought in exotic varieties. In your area, you will have plants suitable for the most arrid conditions of your area, as well as those suited for the most wet conditions of your region. Native plants, are naturally resistant to the types of pests you have in your region, and are already acclimated to your soil types, your weather conditions, and your seasons. Native plants are accustomed to the average annual rainfall in your area, and they won't break out of your landscape and swallow the forests of your area. Every year we see thousands of acres taken over by "non native," alien pests. They destroy the native plant life and in doing so, destroy the biodiversity of the area. The cost is into the millions for controlling them, and we are just seeing the tip of the botanical iceberg. Integrated pest management, should start with prevention, and the place to begin is with the right plants for your area. At the very least, you should avoid the use of anything that is known to be "invasive." Go native, and make your landscape and your world a better place.

Your areas native plants are:

  • Acclimated to your temperatures.
  • Accustomed to your areas rainfall.
  • Accustomed to your seasonal changes
  • Resistant to your pests
  • They won't eat the local forests or lakes.
How do you find out what plants are native to your area? Almost every region throughout the country has an agricultural extension service of some type. Most are extensions of local universities and colleges, and they have an abundance of information on the subject.

Plant placement

This is pretty simple. Don't get a river birch for an arrid area, don't plant azaleas in a bog. Don't put sun loving plants in the shade, or shade loving plants in full sun. In other words, put each plant in a location similar to the one in which it grows in nature.

Other plant placement tips

  • Avoid climbing vines attached to the home, especially around windows and other openings. Vines are like a highway for pests. They will work into tiny openings, spreading them wider, and allowing insects and arachnids to piggy back inside.
  • Shrubs planted too close to the home, or touching the home, allow pests to hide and also provide a roadway to any nearby opening. They should be kept at least one foot from the home, preferably three feet.
  • The mulch in landscape beds can hide a lot of pests. It also provides food sources for pests as it gets older. It can be a source of fungus. It should be kept at least a foot from the home, preferably three feet.
  • Trees should not contact the home in any way. Tree branches in contact with the home provide a roadway for pests onto your home, and eventually into your home. They also may damage gutters and roofs. Poor pruning, or deliberate topping increases pest populations. Bad pruning practices cause the tree to produce unnatural growth that is poorly connected and susceptible to disease and fungus. It opens the tree to pests and disease that feed on the trees juices and provides hiding places for them.

Plant care

If you choose native plants, most of the plant care part of the equation is already taken care of. Don't over fertilize, over irrigate, or allow the plants to dry out beyond the point they might reach in their natural settings. Prune them in such a way that they maintain their natural shapes, and use proper pruning methods and techniques. When trimming shrubs and trees, try to prune whenever possible rather than shearing. An unruly growth leader can be pruned back to the base. Always try to cut back to the main branch or leader, no more than a quarter inch from the joint or node. This will help to prevent rot. More on that later when we deal more in depth with pruning trees. Landscape Trees And Pest Prevention