If you choose to use chemicals in your yard, use them selectively and wisely.
Consider using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. IPM is a decision-making process that uses cultural, biological, and chemical practices to manage pests in a way that minimizes risk to humans and the environment. If you use a pest control company, ask if they offer an IPM program.
Don’t over-water and over-fertilize your lawn. By over-watering and over-fertilizing your lawn, you may actually be harming the health of your grass and increasing the likelihood of insect, weed, thatch, fungal, and disease problems. Efficient irrigation and fertilization and proper maintenance often can be your most inexpensive and effective method of pest and weed control.
Know your enemy. First, identify the bugs that are feasting on your lawn, so that you can select the appropriate pest control option. Select the least toxic pest control option available for that particular type of bug. You may be able to use biological methods that utilize the natural enemies of insects to control pest problems (Ex. mole cricket nematodes). If you must use a pesticide, select the least toxic product that is available, such as insecticidal soaps, pyrethrins, horticultural oil, Bt, and Neem oil. See a list of less-toxic alternative pesticide products below. Some of these products may be available at your local lawn and garden center, as well.
Spot treat. If you must use a pesticide or herbicide, treat only the affected areas of your lawn. This will save money, reduce the threat to beneficial insects, reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that can potentially enter our waterways, and limit our own health risks from exposure. Always try to use the least toxic chemical or alternative you can find.
Tolerate some weeds. Try to tolerate some weeds in your lawn and keep in check by pulling weeds by hand whenever possible. Use organic mulch in beds and around plants to suppress weed growth. Corn gluten (a natural pre-emergent) and potassium salts of fatty acids are commonly used in organic products to control and kill weeds.
Store and dispose of chemicals properly. Take old, unwanted lawn and household chemicals to the nearest hazardous waste collection facility for proper disposal. Chemicals can eventually enter our river or groundwater when they leak onto the land, are poured or flushed down the drain or toilet, or are discarded into a community landfill.
Carefully research pest control companies and ask questions. Make sure they spot treat, are licensed and follow the Green Industries Best Management Practices. Ask to see the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the chemicals they are using. Select companies that offer IPM, organic or less toxic pest management alternatives. You will find a list of questions to ask lawn care and pest control companies at the end our River Friendly Landscaping page.
Safer Pesticides and Weed Control Products
Safer Brand Bug Control Concentrate (pyrethrins, potassium salts of fatty acids)
Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap Concentrate (potassium salts of fatty acids)
EcoSmart Pest Control Products (clove, rosemary, peppermint, and thyme oils)
Concern Weed Prevention Plus (corn gluten)
NOTE: All chemicals can potentially harm our waterways. Please, use sparingly and with caution. St. Johns Riverkeeper does not promote the use of lawn chemicals and does not endorse any specific lawn care products.