Pesticide Alternatives


Pesticide Alternatives

warning pesticide useIn April 2008 the province of Ontario banned cosmetic use of pesticides. A study conducted the very next year, by the Ministry of Environment, showed an 80% drop in toxic lawn pesticides found in urban streams and creeks. For more information on this study: Prelim Pesticide Results


Since 2009, new eco friendly alternatives have come onto the market which will provide further reductions of toxic pesticide use. Nematodes are available in most hardware stores as of 2010 in Ontario, whereas this was a special order from a garden center in prior years.


iron based weed control

Note that the Ontario ban still permitted use of glyphosate (trade name Roundup) for certain cases involving health and safety such as controlling poisonous plants. An iron based, selective herbicide for example, is now widely available for controlling broad leafed weeds.


Weed Control

Most weed problems can be attributed to poor soil conditions. Look after the soil and you also look after the weeks. Aerate, de-thatch, check PH levels, add compost. If weeds still appear, pulling by hand is usually very effective. An iron based herbicide is also an alternative for broad leaf weeds.


This annual plant sends out tangled stems that root rapidly in acidic, moist soil. Check your ph level and adjust for acidity. Hand pull the weeds and your problem will soon disappear.


All clovers are extremely beneficial to lawns. The fix nitrogen in the soil and are often planted as "green manure". Clovers attract beneficial nectar feeding insects. Think twice before you decide to do away with this "weed". If you are determined to get rid of the clover, make a solution of one part vinegar and one part liquid fertilizer (fish fertilizer is best). Squirt the patch of clover with this mixture. The clover and grass will turn brown, but the fertilizer will bring back the grass.


This is a sign of close mowing and poor aeration. Improve your soil to get rid of the crabgrass and pull by hand.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping charlie likes mostly shady areas. To get rid of it, increase drainage by aerating, de-thatching and adding screened compost. Allow soil to dry in affected areas between watering.


Dandelions attract the parasitic wasp that helps to keep down caterpillar, fly maggot and earwig populations.

You can control dandelions by pulling by hand, checking the ph levels of the soil and mowing the lawn before the dandelions go to seed.


Thistle has a deep root that cannot be destroyed easily. It must be dug out completely as any little pieces left in the ground will grow anew. Fill holes with topsoil and sprinkle with ryegrass.


Insect Control

In the Lawn...


Ants are attracted to nutritionally poor, dry soils, low in organic matter. Generally, if you increase the organic matter in your soil by top-dressing with compost, your soil will retain more moisture and the ant problem will take care of itself. You can apply sand, borax or bone meal to the mounds also. I've also found that drenching an ant hill for a few consecutive days can persuade the ants to relocate.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs like lots of thatch, dry grass roots and soil low in nitrogen. Aerate in spring and summer and de-thatch in fall. If you have hordes of chinch bugs and they are killing patches of your lawn, put a capful of dishwashing soap in a sprinkling can filled with water and drench the problem area. Then lay a piece of white flannel over the problem area. The chinch bugs will cling to the flannel as they try to escape the soap. In 15 to 20 minutes, vacuum the flannel or rinse in a bucket of insecticidal soap. Sounds crazy but it works.

Sod Webworm Moths

If you notice small whitish moths darting about, you likely have sod webworms. Best action is to aerate and top-dress with endophytic grass and de-thatch in the fall. If you need more help that this, you can try introducing beneficial nematodes as a "natural" control.

White Grubs
White Grubs

These grubs are soft and white, with a C-shaped body. They can be from a quarter inch to 3 inches long. And they can cause patches of your lawn to turn brown and die. The best defense is a dense healthy lawn. De-thatch, aerate and keep surface moisture to a minimum by watering deeply and infrequently.

Milky Spore Disease - a naturally occurring bacterium will control white grubs for years once well established in your soil. You can also try introducing beneficial nematodes.


In the Garden... (from Mother Earth News)

Aphid - Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficial insects, horticultural oil

Armyworm - Bt (Bacillus thuringiens), handpicking, row covers

Asparagus Beetle - Poultry (chickens, banty hens, etc), neem oil, handpicking

Blister Beetle - Poultry (chickens, banty hens, etc), neem oil, handpicking

Cabbage root maggot - Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Cabbageworm - Bt, handpicking, row covers

Carrot rust fly - Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Colorado potato beetle - Poultry (chickens, banty hens, etc), neem oil, handpicking

Corn earworm - Bt, horticultural oil, beneficial nematodes

Cucumber beetle - Poultry (chickens, banty hens, etc), neem oil, handpicking

Cutworm - Rigid collars around seedlings, Bt, diatomaceous earth

Flea beetle - Insecticidal soap, garlic-pepper spray, row covers

Japanese beetle - Handpicking, row covers, milky spore disease

Onion root maggot - Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Slugs & Slugs- Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth

Squash bug - Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem oil

Squash vine borer - Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes

Stink bug - Handpicking, attracting birds, neem oil

Tomato hornworm - Bt, handpicking, row covers

Whitefly - Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil



Beneficial Nematodes
Nematodes and Sprayer

Beneficial nematodes are nature's way of effectively controlling the larvae stage (white grubs) of the Common Chafer, European Chafer, Japanese Beetle, Asiatic Garden Beetle, Black Vine Weevil, Strawberry Root Weevil, plus May & June Beetles.

They are a safe and sensible way to reduce white grubs infestations and other pest insects while not harming your grass or beneficial insects.

How to apply: normally you just add them to water and spray onto the lawn. Follow the instructions from your supplier. A package of 50 million nematodes will cover 2500 sq. ft. or 250 sq. metres. Make sure the ground is wet before you apply the nematodes and water the lawn each day, for a couple of days after applying. I try to apply DURING a gentle rain and when rain is forecast for the next couple of days. Luckily, rain occurs quite often in our area, in the spring and fall, when nematodes work best.


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