At Landscape Creations Nursery we know how important it is to protect your landscape from pests as well as preserve the existing environment and wildlife. With high deer populations, rodents, insects & mites as well as fungal and bacterial threats, there are a variety of issues you may have to deal with in your garden. Although we feel it is sometimes necessary to use chemical means to remedy an issue in the garden, it is always best to take a preventative approach.
First, when dealing with problem wildlife such as deer and rodents, one should be mindful of their garden layout as well as the types of plants used in the garden. There are many native as well as ornamental plant varieties that wildlife won’t touch. Why? Because these plants contain natural toxins that can cause anything from a bad taste to stomach upset or poisoning. Do critters eat your tulips? Well… they are a yummy treat for deer and rodents! But your daffodils and hyacinths are probably safe because they contain toxins. Crocus are also generally munched on by smaller animals and sometimes slugs can even be a culprit of early bulb bloom if the weather is favorable. There are several lists available that recommend plant varieties if you have a specific pest problem. Slugs eat your hosta? Well, there are several varieties that are slug resistant! All you have to do is a little research.
Another remedy to pest problems are natural, non-toxic deterrents. We carry a line of natural sprays which contain non-harmful ingredients to repel deer and other animals from munching on your plants. These sprays need to be applied a few times during the growing season but work well and are extremely affordable! We have tested them on our hostas that are usually a salad bar for the deer and saw a significant improvement! They are also generally safe around children and pets, however it is always best to check the label thoroughly as manufacturers may make changes from time to time.
There are also systemic applications that help deter pests from eating plants. One product we use is a tablet dug into the ground around the plant. The plant absorbs the “medicine” which gives a taste unfavorable for many animals. Although this solution is not completely non-toxic, as pets or people should not ingest the tablets much like certain medications, once securely placed in the ground, buried and watered in they should not be a problem; however pet owners should be mindful if their pet tends to dig in and around plants in the garden when using this product.
Have a rodent problem? You may want to re-think having that bird feeder or wood and brush piles on your property. Bird feeders, although they attract birds will also attract any animal that eats seeds including mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, opossum, groundhogs, skunks, chipmunks and moles. Wood piles, brush, or even piles of junk on your property can serve has a home for small rodents to nest in. Making sure your yard is neat in tidy is another way of deterring rodents. If you have a mouse or rodent problem we don’t recommend using poisons… poisons, when ingested can cause a variety of symptoms which result in death. Some of these poisons can transfer to natural predators like hawks, owls, cats, coyotes, dogs and other animals. Other alternatives are snap traps, electronic traps, traditional mouse traps, or even live capture traps. If you are planning on using any sort of trap, you should check with a local wildlife expert, exterminator or other professional on which one may be best for your situation, especially if you have pets.
Pesticides Also Kill Good Bugs!
Got bugs? Sometimes the only way to get rid of problem pests such as insects and mites are pesticides. However, like small rodents, insects are eaten by a variety of birds, frogs, toads, bats and other animals which can be affected by pesticides an insect has come in contact with. Frogs are highly sensitive to any toxins in the environment and are sometimes the first warning sign of environmental issues or changes. Honey bees are a necessary link in our food chain and a drop in their population can affect produce production on mass scales. Praying mantis, garden spiders, ladybugs (which feast almost exclusively on aphids) and other natural pest predators can also be killed off by pesticides – and YES! These are good bugs – it is important not to kill them! So what can you do if you see a pest problem such as aphids, scale or Japanese Beetles? If caught early enough, sometimes you can remove the affected plant area by cutting it off to keep them from spreading to other parts of the plant. Manual removal and disposal of the pest can also be done in some cases. For some insects, there are traps available however there is some controversy if they actually attract more of an insect to your yard because they contain pheromones if using a trap, put them at the edge of your property instead of in your garden. If you feel the need to use an insecticide or bug spray, only treat the area of the plant affected – in general, certain pests only attack certain species of plants it is not necessary in most cases to spray all of your plants or your entire garden.
Plant diseases can also be controlled with “plant medicines” which most people relate to pesticides… In some cases using a spray or systemic application may be the only way to save your plat from a disease, fungus or bacteria. However, many people may mistake a pest or insect problem for a disease and purchase the wrong application. It is always best to check with an expert before trying to home-remedy the problem. The OSU Extension Service, located in Burton is the place to contact in Geauga County for any questions on your plant problems!
A Note on Nature and Her Cycles:
Although there are always pests, some years we may have more of a type of insect such as Japanese Beetles, Cicadas, Ladybugs, etc… Also, there are some plant diseases like black spot (commonly seen on roses) that cycles to different related plant species such as apples and hawthorns from year to year – these are natural cycles and controlling them isn’t really an option. Mother Nature may make it a rough year for your plants, but don’t worry! They will generally survive!