Dealing with unwelcome guests
By choosing plants that are well-suited for the Santa Clara Valley it is possible to avoid many pest problems. Other features designed into sustainable landscapes such as mulch, efficient irrigation and wildlife habitat also help to reduce the ability for pests to establish.
However, if there are pest control issues, then integrated pest management should be used. IPM is an ecosystem-based method that focuses on long-term prevention of pests through biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and use of resistant varieties.
Here are a few key points:
- A diverse plant palette that emphasizes native species most resistant to failure from pests and disease can be used to replace plants that are having pest issues.
- Inspect plants at regular intervals for evidence of pest damage.
- Bare, exposed soil with weed growth issues should be sustainably vegetated or covered with mulch.
- Any landscape areas with pest issues should be checked to ensure that they are neither over-watered nor over-fertilized.
- Naturally occurring pesticides like soaps, oils, Sulphur and pepper are preferable. Chemical pesticides should only be used in extreme circumstances.
- Biological pest controls can effectively reduce pest populations by attracting or manually introducing natural enemies, or by choosing plants that directly repel pests.
- Broad-spectrum treatments should not be used. Problem-specific treatments are preferred and should be limited in application to only problem areas.