Your Lawn: An Environmentally-Safe Approach to Pest Control

Spring is the time when all things begin actively growing again, not just your lawn. Insect populations that have been lying dormant deeper in the soil will also become more active. Wondering how to manage your lawn’s insects with little to no chemical treatment? Here are a few important points to help you:

Don’t ever start out with a pesticide. Pesticides often do more harm than good. They deposit toxic chemicals into the soil, kill beneficial insects like earthworms along with whatever insect you are trying to control, and contribute to growing thatch layers, which in turn harbor pests. You should only use pesticides if nothing else fixes your pest problem and the damage is reaching a severe level.

Look for significant pest damage weekly. Catching a pest problem early will help prevent a lot of potential damage to your lawn. Do a walkthrough of your lawn and carefully inspect active areas.

Correctly identify the signs you are seeing. A brown and thin lawn – one indication of pest damage – could also be due to the improper use of herbicides or fungicides, over watering, over or under fertilizing, or urine spots from the family dog. Other signs of pest damage include more weeds than usual, a larger population of adult insects (pests in the lawn tend to be in the larvae stage), and more animals scavenging your lawn at night.

Do a drench test. Just seeing insects in your lawn is not enough to determine that you have a pest problem. That insect population must be larger than the lawn can sustain. To find out the average number of insects in your lawn, mix one ounce of dishwashing liquid with one gallon of water, and pour it over one square yard of grass. Any insect will crawl to the surface.

Take pictures of every different insect and count how many of each insect you see in the square yard of grass. Research university or cooperative extension sites to identify your insects, and then find out the average number of insects that should be in each square yard. If the insects you found exceed that average, you have a pest problem.

Culturally manage the insect population. Find out what kind of environment the invading insect population prefers, and try to eliminate those conditions through healthy lawn maintenance. Over watering or over fertilizing will attract any insect to a lawn because there is more grass for them to feed on. Large thatch layers also provide a safe habitat for many insects. Try to limit these conditions if you can.

Biologically manage the insect population. Introducing natural predators is an environmentally friendly way to manage a pest problem. Different insects will require different means of biological control, but each predator will be selective and will seldom harm beneficial insects.

Chemically manage the insect population. If all else fails you may use a pesticide. Research thoroughly which product is best for your grass seed lawn and the pest you are treating. Follow all the instructions exactly, and wear rubber gloves and long sleeves when applying the pesticide, as a protective measure.

About the Author

Jonathan McGraw is a natural landscape designer who writes for, the go-to source for solving the most complex reclamation challenges. He suggests Kentucky Bluegrass seed for the best appearance and versatility, and Zoysia Grass seed for its drought resistance and tolerance of salty and alkaline soils.

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