Best Management Practices - Pest Management

Allen D. Owings, Trawick, Robert C., Bush, Edward W.

An abundance of weeds, diseases and insects plague Louisiana’s home landscapes. The adoption of BMPs and integrated pest management (IPM) will reduce these problems.

IPM practices can go a long way toward preventing and solving pest problems.

Here are some tips:

Mulch properly
Mulch helps to prevent weed problems in landscape beds. Mulch bedding plants to a depth of 1 inch, shrubs to a depth of 2 inches and trees to a depth of 3 inches. Keep mulch away from stems and trunks. Don't cover the crowns of annual bedding plants and herbaceous perennials. The best mulch material for landscape use is pine straw.

Improve drainage and aeration of landscape beds
These steps will lessen the likelihood of root rot problems in saturated soils. Raise landscape beds at least 6-8 inches with organic matter. Monitor soil pH to encourage maximum nutrient availability and optimum root growth.

Manage weed populations
One way to avoid the buildup of weeds is to prevent weeds from going to seed. You can use chemicals, but first identify what the weed is - grass, broadleaf or sedge. If herbicides are necessary, apply them on a calm day and use a coarse spray, instead of fine droplets, to reduce drift. Pre-emergence herbicides for landscape bed use include Amaze and Preen.

Attract beneficial insects
These include ladybird beetles, hover flies, lacewings, spiders and parasitic wasps. They are natural enemies of plant-damaging insects, such as whiteflies, scale, spider mites, aphids and thrips. You can buy beneficial insects at your local nurseries.

Certain plants in your landscape will draw beneficial insects. Yarrow attracts ladybird beetles, wasps and hover flies; cilantro attracts lacewings and spiders; and cosmos attracts lacewings, ladybird beetles, hover flies and spiders. Many people also purchase these beneficial insects. Conserve beneficial insects by spraying insecticides only when a population of a harmful insect justifies control measures. Some insects can be physically removed from their host plants.

Select adapted plants
Choose landscape plants based on their adaptability to local growing conditions. Louisiana is located in USDA hardiness zones 8 and 9 and in American Horticultural Society heat zones 7 and 8. Some varieties of a certain plant species may outperform other varieties of the same species.

Follow certain upkeep or cultural practices
Practices such as proper pruning, fertilization and irrigation need to be done based on the current vigor of the plants, season of the year, desired results and climate. Keep those plants healthy. Nothing attracts problems like stressful growing conditions. Scouting, or periodically checking plants for pest populations, will reduce the possibility of problems getting out of hand.

BMP Checklist:

  • Positively identify the problem
  • Practice sanitation
  • Select adapted plants
  • Follow pesticide labels
3/22/2005 6:47:21 AM
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