Dealing with pest problems

This effective, science-based approach to managing pests reduces unnecessary spraying of pesticides.

How do you handle your pest problems? Provincial pesticide legislation requires landscape and lawn care companies to use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to managing pests. You should practise IPM too. It is an effective, science-based approach to managing pests that reduces the unnecessary spraying of pesticides around your home.

There are six elements to a good landscape IPM program:

Step 1: Prevention

Focusing on plant health is the best way to prevent pests and diseases from occurring. Good fertilizing, aerating and mowing practices create strong grass that out-competes weeds. Proper pruning and fertilizing make for healthy shrubs and trees that are less susceptible to pest damage. Choose the right plant for your garden and provide them the best growing conditions. Include a variety of plants and cultivars that are resistant to pests.


The more you know about Integrated Pest Management, the better you can do at managing pests and reducing the use of pesticides. Start your IPM program by learning about the pests that could attack your landscape plants. Learn to identify the pests and things you can do to prevent them.

There are many good reference materials available in print and on the Internet. One good resource for British Columbians is the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands’ Home & Garden Pest Management Guide For BC.

Another place to obtain local information is from the certified pesticide dispensers in your local garden centre. These people are trained in pest management and the safe use of pesticides.
Get their advice on local pest problems, pest management and pest control options.

For specific information and help designing an IPM plan for your yard, hire the services of a landscape or lawncare professional. These people have the experience and in-depth knowledge needed to design effective IPM programs.

Good luck with your IPM programs. Have fun developing them and enjoy your garden!

Step 2: Identification

Correctly identifying pests is critical. If you don’t know the pest, it is impossible to select the best control method. Proper identification takes time, and may require you to closely examine the plants and insects in your yard, check guides or manuals and consult with horticultural experts. Once you have identified the pest, you can learn what to do about it.

Step 3: Monitoring

If you don’t know when pests are in your garden, you can’t know when or how to deal with them. Check for pests frequently and record information about pest levels, amount of plant damage and levels of beneficial insects.

Step 4: Action levels

Even if a potential pest is present, it may not be causing a problem. Very often small numbers of pest organisms are desirable because they attract beneficial organisms to your garden. There is no reason to go to the trouble and expense of controlling something that is not going to cause a problem. For each pest problem, determine the level at which a treatment will be necessary.

Step 5: Treatment

For every pest, a variety of control options is available. Often several control methods can be used together for good results. Choose the options that are most likely to provide good control yet still protect beneficial organisms, non-pest species, yourself and the environment. Treatment methods include:
• Physical controls: using mulches, dislodging aphids with a spray of water, pulling weeds and picking off infected leaves;
• Cultural controls: planting resistant varieties in the proper location, using the proper rate, application method and timing of irrigation water;
• Chemical controls: using synthetic and naturally derived pesticides. These include conventional pesticides as well as preferred “reduced-risk” pest control options like insect pheromones, insecticidal soaps, and acetic acid for weed control.

Step 6: Evaluation

After you have done a treatment, check how well it worked. Did your control methods work? If not, why not? What could be done better next time? Learn from the experience.

All landscape professionals are required to practice IPM if they use pesticides. Ask the landscape professional of your choice about their IPM practices or go to for a list of accredited providers.