How Lawn Care Effects Pest Control
Part three in our pest prevention series
Believe it or not, what you do with your lawn has a direct effect on the pests in your life. A well maintained lawn will reduce pest problems, even the pest problems inside your home. A poorly maintained lawn will increase pest problems, even inside your home.
The most important activity for home lawns is mowing. Mow well enough and often enough at the right height, and all other things being equal, your lawn will stand out for it’s quality and texture.
If mowing is really the genie’s lamp of good lawn care, and it is, then the frequency with which you mow is the way you rub it. No single activity has as much effect on creating that model lawn that makes the neighbors weep with envy as the number of times you mow each month.
Mowing weekly is the minimum for most lawn grasses! Mowing twice per week is the start of golf course type care. Such care will allow you to leave clippings in place, without thatch build up. This will also increase the lawns level of fertility. I have mowed athletic fields daily at from about 1 half inch to around 3 quarters of an inch, and produced fields that the golfers preferred over the local courses. Our weed population was gone with little pesticide use, and our insect, fungus, and disease problems disappeared!
Irrigation has a direct effect on pest populations as well.
Watering too much
If you water too much, you will be inviting fungus, disease, and water loving insects and mosquitoes onto your property, and some of them will find their way into your home.
Watering too little
If you water too little, you will have problems with bare spots in your lawn, and weeds will ensue. Along with the weeds will come pests. In this drought weakened state, some insects and diseases thrive because the plants are more vulnerable in their weakness.
The same situation exists with fertilization. Too much causes lush green growth that is just one watering away from being invaded by fungi, and pests wanting to feed on the succulent juices. Low fertility will favor the invasion of weeds and insects doe to weakness.
Cultivating the lawn is one of the least remembered practices in lawn care. Cultivation reduces the thatch that has accumulated from all those bad mowing, irrigating and fertilizing practices. Lawn cultivation also relieves compaction from foot traffic, allowing air and water to reach the root zone where the grass can use it. Thatch provides hiding places for bugs, and a base of rotting and semi rotting plant material that encourages fungi and disease development. Cultivation is needed most in lawns where the other lawn care practices mentioned were not carried out properly.
Lawn care and pest control
Each of these cultural practices interacts with the other. infrequent mowing and high fertility coupled with too much water equals thatch. Thatch sometimes makes the soil hydrophobic so that more water is needed to keep the grass growing. All of these practices done poorly will raise the pest population. If done properly, they will significantly lower the pest population, and the need for pesticides. Lawn insects are the result of poor cultural practices, and some of the lawn insects will become house insects. Fewer pests outside, means fewer pests inside!
See part four in our pest prevention series: Landscaping For Pest Prevention