Natural garden management

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 December 2014 - 10:04am

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Insect control

Harmful insects, nematodes and fungi are naturally controlled by beneficial nematodes and fungi, predatory and parasitic insects, birds, frogs and lizards. A number of beneficial insects are sold by integrated pest management companies.

Two red ladybirds with black spots.

Beneficial organisms can be attracted by providing the right environment — trees for birds, specific plants for certain insects and ponds and shelter for frogs and lizards. Control your cat, keep it in at night and fit it with a bell to protect birds and lizards.

Beneficial insects are attracted by the flowers of some plants, especially members of the Umbelliferae family like carrot, parsley, coriander and dill. Spiders and preying mantids also should be encouraged as they feed on insects.

Some plants can be used as bait crops — for example, provided both of them flower at the same time, groundcovers can be used under fruit trees to detract the western flower thrips from the fruit tree flowers.

Reducing pest numbers

Snails and slugs are attracted to wet conditions and feed on young, juicy plant material. These pests and slaters can be controlled with physical barriers like sawdust, sand, shell grit, or iron-based snail pellets that are less toxic to children and animals.

Small pointed snail on a green leaf.
Small pointed snail.

Seasonal pest control

Good garden management can reduce certain seasonal insect pests. For example, ash white fly on claret ashes will disappear at the end of the season when the trees shed their leaves, but you must dispose of the old leaves to avoid the larvae breeding for the next season.

Garden management techniques will minimise many household pests that originate in the garden. For example, Portuguese millipedes breed in organic matter and are attracted to house lights. Position outside lights and traps to detract them away from the house. Confine and turn compost heaps which can otherwise harbour pests like cockroaches and flies. Chickens and ducks will control snails, slugs, slaters and many insects

To avoid attracting foxes, rats, mice and cats remove food scraps after outdoor meals and keep pets’ feeding bowls clean.