For years, now we have heard about the negative impact of Pesticides on the environment. The professional users of pesticides are responsible applicators using them in a safe and appropriate manner. It has been the non-professional users who have gotten us in trouble. Their over and ill-timed applications often of the wrong pesticide have led us to the state we are in today. If this is the case then why are they still in such heavy use today? The ease of use; speed, and our high expectations keep pesticides in use. It should also be noted, there might not be an effective alternate control.
The Right Plant In The Right Place
The first alternate control that all gardeners should exercise is the right plant for the right location. This involves things as simple as picking the right plant for the right hardiness, light, moisture, pest and disease problems. For example, do not put a lilac bush into shady conditions. This would encourage mildew and reduces it's flowering. If mildew or black spot are a problem on your roses then you should grow disease resistant varieties like the Explorer Series, Carefree Series, or the em. This does not mean you should not select a proper site for them with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight, good air movement and plant them on an extra wide spacing.
Competition Isn't Good For Them
Next, a healthy well-grown plant will be more resistant to both insects and diseases. For example, a healthy stand of turf grass free from drought stress will grow faster than the destruction caused by normal populations of white grubs. The same healthy stand of turf grass will be thick enough to resist an invasion of weeds and Crabgrass only germinates where sunlight falls on bare soil. Excessive watering and or fertilizing will produce luxuriant growth that is more susceptible to disease and insects. There is a direct relationship to the residence time of moisture on the plant foliage and its susceptibility to disease. The longer the residence times the more likelihood of the plant becoming infected by diseases. This means no overhead watering of your plants and no watering of your turf grass in the evening or at night. Remember that the opposite is also true. A lack of sufficient water and fertilizer will cause the plant to become stressed; making it less able to resist attacks from both insects and diseases.
Crabgrass and weed production can also controlled in the home turf and flower garden using Corn Glutten meal. CGM can be used effectively to control Crabgrass, Dandelions, Purslane and other garden weeds. CGM may have an adverse affect on some desirable garden seeds.
Let's Get Physical
There is also the physical control of weeds. This involves the exertion of force by mechanical means to the root system of the weed. There are a lot of tools to do this job for example you can use a Dandelion Popper, Weed Twister, Ergo Weeder, Garden Hoe, Scuffle Hoe, Circle Hoe or Deck Flosser.
Good sanitation, and the hand picking off of the eggs, active larvae and adults can control many insects and diseases. For example the simple act of washing controls non-winged aphids. Placing eighteen inch long pieces of garden hose sealed at one end can capture earwigs. The act of cultivation can kill the eggs of slugs and destroy their hiding places. Floating row covers over your newly planted young plants will keep insects out and prevent them from laying their eggs on and around your plants. There are many more of these controls.
Let's Get Nasty
Your weeds can also be controlled by applications of Hot Water. This method cooks the plant material causing death. This is a non-selective method killing everything including the beneficial organisms. Hot water will kill all living things and should be used carefully don't burn yourself. The Hot water method is usually only used on hard surfacing such as interlocking stonework and you should test the various surfaces for exposure to boiling water.
Burn, Baby, Burn
If the heat of hot water works to kill weeds then why not just apply the heat to the weed directly? For many years professional landscape maintenance personnel have been used propane burners with an exposed flame to control weeds in walkways, paths and driveways. For that matter Mother Nature has been doing the same thing forever, we call them forest and prairie fires. No, problem well Yes, many regions have bylaws against having exposed flames for exactly this reason they don't want their own local fires. For this very reason the Europeans have used the Infra Burner for many years. This still a propane burner but the propane combustion is inside the equipment. It is the radiant heat produced that Infra Burner's ceramic plate captures and releases to kill the weeds in the garden, turf, pathways and hard surfaces.
Salt Of The Earth
For centuries it has been known that salt is a necessity of life and that too much salt kills. In nature we have a good example of too much salt the Utah Salt Flats. Therefore too much salt provides us with an age-old method of killing weeds. People have just poured salt on the cracks in their patios, driveways and walkways. Now from Sweden there is salt applicator for controlling taproot weeds in your turf areas. The Weed Ezee salt applicator uses Canning, Pickling, or Kosher Salt. The Salt is poured into the end of the tube, replace the cap. Now go over to the crown of the taproot weed, then place the dispenser end on the crown and push down once. That's it, just move on to the next taproot weed. The salt is toxic to earthworms but the limited area it is applied to and the rainfall and irrigation will quickly dissipate the salt allowing both the earthworms and surrounding turf to return.
Bugs That Eat Bugs
Beneficial insects can be used to control harmful insects but the environmental conditions in the garden, time of day, the colour of your clothing, and the number of harmful insects are just some of the requirements for your success using this method.
Some Good Sprays
Blend garlic, onion, or chives to a paste add water, stand, strain, and spray two to three days apart.
Hot Pepper Spray
Blend hot peppers, add water, strain, and spray two to three days apart.
Blend cigarettes cigars etc., add water, strain, and spray. The natural nicotine sulphate in the tobacco is so toxic you need a license to used it. If you use this concoction wear lots of protective clothing. Ask yourself why are you are still smoking this stuff and having others breathing in the toxic smoke.
These alternative methods are not easier or less time consuming than just spraying for the problem. A balanced weed and pest program using the least environmentally offensive method will always be your best bet.