The Best Ammunition Against Pests


A thriving, healthy plant will ward off pest invitation (weeds, insects or fungus) by its own competitive nature better than any use of synthetics.


Most ornamental plants and grasses that are used are not indigenous to this region; however, with regimented feedings and watering they will perform admirably. The plants have natural defenses that work well within their indigenous area. Keeping your plants and gardens healthy is your absolute best defense against unwanted pests.


Planting


When planting shrubs or trees it is prudent to dig the plant pit to about twice the diameter and twice the depth as the root ball.  Use about one third organic amendment and an ounce of fertilizer blended with the native excavated plant pit soil.   The most critical issue for new plantings is to plant in a manner to insure that after it has settled, the top of the root ball is one to two inches above the adjacent soil grade.  While you definitely do not want soil to cover the top of the root ball it is very advantageous to apply two to four inches of organic mulch over the root ball.


Fertilization


It is strongly advised to apply a balanced fertilizer to all turf and ground cover at a rate of about five pounds per thousand square feet; and about one ounce to all shrubs and trees once every other month or six times per year.  A balanced fertilizer is a granular product with NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) of about 15-15-15 with minor nutrient elements included.


Note:  If your fertilization has iron in it, do not let it sit on the concrete as it will stain and leave rust spots.


Watering


Water is even more critical than food for life, which is why it is highly recommended to get a timer controlled sprinkling system. A much less expensive option is Sprinkler Times, which was specifically created for homes and properties that do not have automatic controllers.  Most people cannot accurately distribute the correct amounts of water on the correct watering days per week to optimize the plant vitality.


Insecticide


While the previously mentioned strategies of plant vitality are generally the best ammunition to fight off pest and predators of the garden, there is a relatively new insecticide, called Merit, which has some extraordinary characteristics.


Merit is within the lowest toxicity category for pesticide chemicals. This means that it is not among the more dangerous pesticides to use. However, it still produces very good results on controlling a wide variety of insects in a garden. It will work as a contact killer and will also work as a translocating chemical.


A contact insect killer, as the name implies will kill only if it contacts the pest directly. The translocating aspect of the chemical means that the plants will absorb the chemical and will then have the plant fluids become toxic to the insects that are feeding on the plants. Merit solutions can be either sprayed onto the plant foliage to be absorbed by the plant or the solution can be applied as a root feeding to be taken up by the plants.


While this chemical is indeed a broad spectrum insecticide, there are certain pests that it may be ineffective on. Currently the label does not indicate control of many of the insect pests that penetrate and feed inside of the bark of plants or trees. This is contrary to what one might expect as the Translocating aspects of this chemical would seem to effect the fluids that boring insects are exposed to. Furthermore, while using this product to fight labeled pests we have seen a decline in the population of certain boring insects that were not labeled. While using this chemical we have seen no adverse effect to plant material. Please read the entire label and follow directions. Please remember that more is not always better.


Disclaimer: These tips are intended to be informative in a general sense but in no way are to be construed as a recommendation for use of any pesticide or product. Recommendations are general and will vary for each unique landscape.