Home, Lawn & Garden: Pest Control

Cat's Garden & Charlie Cat

by Catherine Haug

Right now, not only are my garden seedlings coming up, but also those pesky weeds. How is one ever able to gain control over these invaders, without using toxic chemicals like Roundup?

I addressed this in part last year, in my post Natural Pest & Weed Control. But read on for more ideas.

Keeping Perspective

I had an interesting phone conversation the other day, with the rep from a lawn care company. I had been getting bids, using organic products to fertilize and weed my lawn, and one of them suggested that I also have them treat my house for undesirable bugs.

Huh? Well, I know I have few spiders, but I like them because they keep insects at bay, especially those nasty earwigs that make me scream as tho I’d seen a mouse. So I told the guy, “No, I don’t want you to spray my spiders.”

“Well, ma’am,” he said, “you may have hobo spiders and you don’t want them in your home.”

I responded, “I already have hobos in my basement, but we have an understanding. They stay in the dark corners of my basement and help keep insects in check, and I don’t bother them.”

“You’re nuts, lady,” he said.

“No, I’m not,” I stated, firmly. “I know that when you spray for spiders, it doesn’t really kill the hobos, just makes ’em mad.  I don’t want an angry hobo, because he’ll bite me. So I just let them be and they leave me be, too.”



(photo from Wikipedia)

I guess I could carry that philosophy into other areas of my life, including weed control. As I read in a Planet Natural newsletter:

“A weed is just a plant growing where you don’t want it”

Like: dandelions in the lawn instead of in the herb garden; grass in the garden instead of in the lawn.

But it also includes non-native, invasive species that can take over if you’re not careful. Avoid buying landscape and garden plants that can easily get out of hand.

Did you know that dandelions are not native to North America, but were brought here as an herb by the colonists?  But they quickly found that the dandelion has no natural enemies here, so spread like wildfire everywhere!

Weeds in lawn and garden:

Probably the best weed control for both lawn and garden is an organic pre-emergent like Corn Gluten Meal, that works by inhibiting seed germination. However, when using it in your garden, allow several months after application before direct seeding in treated areas.

Long-term strategies From Planet Natura:

“To solve your weed problems in the long run, you must make the habitat in which weeds are growing inhospitable to them. In general, weeds prefer bare soil with lots of light; therefore, keep the soil in between your plants covered with mulch that excludes light from the soil. Patch cracks in paving, or fill cracks with special caulking compounds designed for asphalt or concrete.

It is very important to prevent weeds from going to seed. If you can reduce the number of weed seeds in and around your garden, you have won half the battle.”

But remember that weeds can be beneficial, too. From Planet Natural:

“Deep-rooted weeds such as thistles, pigweeds, and nightshades can bring up minerals from the subsoil that are then deposited in the topsoil when the plants die and decompose. Deep roots can open pathways for water and for roots of less aggressive plants. Weeds in the sunflower (Asteraceae), parsley (Apiaceae), and mustard (Cruciferae) families produce flowers that feed beneficial insects with their nectar and pollen.”

Lawn Grass as a Weed

What about killing grass when it has invaded a flower or herb bed, or even your garden?

You can use organic products containing vinegar and oils that burn the grass, such as BurnOut Weed & Grass Killer. These only kill the leaves, leaving the roots in-tact below the surface, ready to grow new green shoots. So you have to be diligent and patient, repeatedly treating the grass as it emerges. Eventually this stress will weaken and kill the roots, or at least weaken them enough that you can dig them out, then cover with mulch.

For More Information

I’ve only touched on some topics to get you thinking. For even more infomation, check out:

For info on animal pest control and general garden health, check out my earlier posts:

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