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Gardens that attract beneficial insects

Create a Garden to Attract Beneficial Insects

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To encourage high beneficial insect populations design your garden to incorporate a variety of flowering plants rich in nectar and pollen.  Choose cultivars with easily accessible pollen found in plants with a single layer of petals or a tubular flower form.  Common herbs, wildflowers, and scented plants are all attractive to beneficial insects.  Do not clear out dead foliage in the fall, this is an important habitat for beneficial over…

Some Least-Toxic Herbicides

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Herbicidal Soap Herbicidal Soap is made from potassium salts of fatty acids derived from naturally occurring plant oils and animal fats.  Contact with herbicidal soap damages plant cell walls, causing dehydration and tissue death.  Soaps are broad-spectrum, non-selective, and work best on seedlings.  Deep-rooted weeds and perennials will require repeat applications.  Soaps break down completely within 48 hours and carry the EPA rating: IV. CAUTION.  There is also an herbicidal soap…

Herbicides

Herbicides

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When looking at large areas of lawn contaminated by weeds, most people consider resorting to herbicides.  In fact, it is difficult to go to a local garden supply store without seeing shelves of products all promising to rid your lawn of weed problems quickly.  Unfortunately, herbicides toxic to your weeds are often hazardous to you and other living things.  Certain components of herbicides (i.e. 2,4-D and arsenic) are under scrutiny…

What's Under Your Soil?

Work on the Down Low to Improve What’s on Top

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Horticulturists agree that time spent improving what is happening below the surface of a lawn greatly reduces the time needed to maintain what is on top of it.  The ideal soil for grass meets five requirements: 1) it is slightly acidic; 2) it contains an adequate supply of nutrients; 3) it allows for deep root growth; 4) it supports a thriving population of beneficial microbes, and 5) it retains adequate…

Planting a new lawn—step-by-step

How Much Seed to Use When Overseeding

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Seed Type Pounds* per 1,000-square feet Bluegrass 1 to 2 Tall fescue 4 Perennial ryegrass 4 Fine fescue 2 2 *Note: some experts recommend exceeding these amounts.

Applying Lime

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For acidic soils, use pelletized lime to minimize dust and ensure uniformity.  You can mix finely ground limestone with a water-soluble binder to form pellets.  Use a drop spreader to apply pelletized lime.  You can also apply with a rotary-type spreader.

What to Wear For Pest & Weed Control

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Whether you’re using insecticides and herbicides derived from botanical, biological, or synthetic materials, take all basic precautions, including the use of goggles, disposable dust masks (for pesticide dusts), and tight-fitting respirators when using liquid sprays.  Use National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved respirators containing activated charcoal cartridges that filter pesticide vapors from the air. Read all product labels thoroughly, and apply the products with great care.  Completely…

Underground pests - Japanese Beetle

Managing Lawn Pests

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Insect problems, like diseases, develop when conditions are favorable to them.  As the weather warms up in spring, insect populations and activity increase.  Your best line of defense against these pests is to provide optimal growing conditions for your lawn.  A thick, healthy turf is not attractive to pests as either habitat or food, and is better able to survive any foraging of insects.

Amend soil

What is a Soil Amendment?

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Adding a soil amendment, also called a soil conditioner, helps improve plant growth and health.  The type of amendment or amendments added depends on the current soil composition, the climate, and the type of plant.  Some of the various amendments include: Lime (makes soil less acidic) Fertilizers for plant nutrients (i.e. manure, peat, or compost) Materials for water retention (i.e. clay, shredded bark, or vermiculite) Gypsum (releases nutrients and improves…

Nematode - Biological Insecticides

Nematodes

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Predatory nematodes attack lawn pests such as billbugs, sod webworms, and white grubs. Nematodes are parasites that kill hosts, such as this grub, within 48-hours.  Some nematodes attack surface pests; others attack soil-dwelling pests.  Choose the correct type for your pest. Nematodes arrive by mail in a sponge.  To apply, place the sponge in a container of cold water and wring it several times to release the nematodes.  Apply with…