Garden Without Pesticides

Make your yard and garden healthy and beautiful - without working too hard!

Build healthy soil with compost and mulch. Soil is alive, and soil life matters. Beneficial soil creatures improve soil structure and recycle nutrients. They store water for plants and protect them from pests and diseases. Go to the soil amendments and fertilizer section to learn more about building healthy soil.

Plant right for your site. Get to know your yard. Areas of shade, wet or dry soil, or slope all affect which plants will grow well. Choose plants that will thrive in those areas and that resist insects and diseases. Group plants by their needs for water, sun and soil.

  • Thurston County Common Sense Gardening: Plant List – for the earth friendly gardener.
  • King County Native Plant Guide:   Native plant identification, landscaping plans and how-to articles.
  • Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden: Great plant picks

Practice smart watering. Many plant problems are caused by overwatering. Water plants deeply to promote deep roots. Let the surface of the soil dry out before watering again.

Learn to live with a few insects. Most bugs in your garden are actually helpful. Killing them all eliminates the beneficial insects too, making the problem worse. Good bugs are a gardener’s friend.

Practice natural lawn care. People often use more water and chemicals on their lawns than they need. Try these easy natural lawn care steps instead.

Use pesticides as a last resort. Keep using non-toxic methods and over time you can reduce pest numbers and the damage they cause. 

Target your action if pests appear

“Pest" means a lot of different things that cause problems in the yard and garden, including:

  • Problem insects
  • Weeds
  • Slugs and snails
  • Critters like deer and moles
  • Plant diseases such as black spot

Pest problems don't necessarily require pesticides. Identify the problem and your options to deal with it. Start with the expert recommendations on this website and other gardening resources before looking for a product or pesticide.

Traps, barriers or other tools can work as well or better than pesticides. Simple steps like more sunlight or less water may be all the plant needs.

If you use garden chemicals:

  • Buy in small amounts. Skip the large "economy" size. Favor ready-to-use products over concentrates.
  • Avoid combination products, such as weed and feed, so you don’t waste your time and money over-applying one or the other.
  • Spot-spray– and only on targeted pests; do not broadcast-apply pesticides over large areas.