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Home and Landscape: Avoiding Problems Between Them

The article on this page is original, but has been published in other places on the Internet

Pest Prevention, Pest Control, Pest Management, in Home Landscape Design

Improvements in your landscape can have a profound effect on the aesthetic quality of your experience as a homeowner, and can have a positive effect on the the monetary value of your home as well. How you handle these changes in your landscape will have an effect on the pest population in your landscape and your home. This article will give you some food for thought on this important aspect of home improvement!

So you are going to make some changes in your landscape, or completely renovate and reconstruct your outdoor habitat. Maybe you want to add an outbuilding, some raised beds, put in a few new plants, or replicate the garden at Versailles. Before you even put a line on the paper, or a shovel in the ground, let me offer you a few thoughts on how your home and garden interact, and how to avoid some common problems.

Your landscape design can have a profound effect in how all the parts of your property interact, and the pests that come to visit you. Using plants native to your area is a great landscaping idea, and a great place to start creating a landscape with fewer pest problems. In fact, I think this may be the most overlooked, and highest impact part of creating a minimum pest landscape.  Below you will find some other ideas to consider in your landscape design and landscape maintenance. The list is not complete, but should be used as a starting place and a springboard for thinking your project through.

  • Keep vines away from anything you don't want damaged. Vines are invasive by nature. They probe and connect in order to get better position to get sunlight in the environment. When doing this, they will get into cracks and crevices, and as they grow, will spread the cracks wider. Wooden fences are particularly susceptible.  Wooden and vinyl sidings are not immune, nor are brick and mortar joints.These plants provide highways for insects life such as ants, termites, spiders and a variety of others. Vines may sneak into your power and communication lines, and can cause many problems when they do. There is a stop sign about a block from my home that is invisible to unfamiliar travelers because it is engulfed by a rouge wisteria vine. Vines will climb trees and shrubs in the same manner. The inherent goal is to reach sunlight by climbing the tallest object available, and gaining access to the upper portion of the canopy, often preventing light from getting through to its victim.
  • Keep trees, especially fast growing varieties away from structures that might be damaged by aggressive root growth. Concrete slabs and walkways can be gradually lifted and broken by these roots. These roots often become trip hazards in frequently traveled areas, so plan accordingly. When planting trees, know where your water and power lines are, and your sewer drains or septic systems. Watch where you plant them. It is easy to underestimate the full grown size of a tree, and the urge to plant them too close to each other in order to create a landscape that looks "full" is nearly insurmountable. Tree limbs which encroach on power lines will need to be trimmed on occasion, this should be kept in mind before planting, and while inspecting your landscape each season. Also tree limbs can take a toll on roof tops. Your inspection should include taking a close look at this aspect. A note on this: Before trimming those limbs, keep those power and communication lines in mind, and make sure you do it right so that you protect the health of your tree and your own health as well.
  • Structures can provide heat and shade, as well as obstacles to water movement. Be sure that you do not put a structure in a place where the reflective heat from the structure might broil your delicate plants, or where it might be in the way of irrigation water, or cause water to back up and puddle. Make sure that it will not provide too much shade for your lawn or other plant life. Consider the placement of children's play areas carefully, and make sure that they are not oriented in such a way that they will burn the children's skin. Heat reflecting surfaces in unshaded areas also encourage fire ants to develop colonies nearby.
  • It is a good idea to understand what you are planting. Some species are better suited to some areas than others. Plants that are normally found in your area are better suited to your climate and terrain. There are three ways that a plant from outside your area could react when transplanted.
  • It could languish and possibly die.
  • It could accept the new situation and adapt to the changes, effectively becoming a part of the environment. It is possible for this to happen, and when a slight climatic change occurs, to either languish, or thrive without controls.
  • It could thrive and flourish, becoming aggressive and invasive, and a threat to it's new environment.

The result of using non natives in your landscape are usually not very good, and some can be devastating. The economic damage done to our environment has reached into the billions, and is increasing at an alarming rate. Make sure that what you plant does not contribute to this problem. Some of these plants are illegal in some areas. Check with your local extension agent or educational and government websites dealing with these plants for more information.

I hope that this has been of some value to you in your quest for the perfect landscape, and provided a springboard to aid you in your creative thought. Happy landscaping!

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