Natural ways to manage pests in home gardens
What lower risk and alternative pesticides can be used by gardeners.
Healthy garden care
You can have a beautiful lawn and garden using natural methods.
For lawn care and maintenance:
- mow grass 2-3 inches high with a sharp blade
- aerate spring and fall
- water early morning, one inch, generally once per week
- fertilize with natural fertilizers spring and fall
- top dress and overseed in early spring and late fall
Insects are a natural part of lawns and many beneficial insects help maintain your lawn, pollinate plants and control harmful pests.
Regularly inspect your garden for signs of insect infestation. Ask a lawn and garden expert, garden centre or landscape company for advice.
Native plants are naturally suited for the conditions in your garden and can better resist pests.
Poisonous plants and stinging pests
Class 7 or controlled sales products containing glyphosate or glufosinate ammonium in ready-to-use containers can be used around homes or cottages to control:
- poison ivy
- wild parsnip
- giant hogweed
- outdoor biting or stinging pests (mosquitoes, wasps)
- pests that can cause structural damage to the home (termites)
- rodents that can carry disease
Class 7 products can’t be used:
- to control weeds or other vegetation in lawns, gardens, patios or driveways.
- to control lawn or garden pests
Search for a product: Pesticide Product Information System
Under provincial pesticide legislation, a pesticide must be registered under the Pest Control Products Act administered by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and classified for legal sale and use in Ontario.
Products must be used according to label directions and for purposes allowed under the ban.
Lower risk pesticides and biopesticides
You can purchase and use certain lower risk pesticides and biopesticides to manage weeds, insects and plant diseases.
Biopesticides are those designated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Lower risk pesticides have characteristics such as:
- low toxicity to humans
- minimal impact to the environment,
- act in a non-toxic way in controlling intended pests
These products are listed in Class 5 (less hazardous) and Class 6 (least hazardous) and contain ingredients listed in Class 11 under Ontario Regulation 63/09.
Some biopesticide products (e.g. Bacillus thuringiensis, Phoma macrostoma) are living organisms that can be very sensitive to environmental conditions such as sunlight, rain, humidity or temperature. Beneficial nematodes are also live organisms.
You will increase their effectiveness if you apply biopesticides and nematodes when the environmental conditions are most suitable for their survival.
For example, nematodes are extremely sensitive to sunlight, moisture and temperature and should be applied:
- in cloudy conditions
- to moist soil which is watered 24 hours after application
- when soil temperatures are above 11°C
Many biopesticides work best against younger stages of insect growth and may not be as effective applied against older stages.
Many biopesticides require direct contact with the pest to be effective. Complete coverage of all affected plant surfaces is critical for effective control. Directions on biopesticide labels will provide you with directions and with important information. For the best results, correctly identify pests and follow label instructions.