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Blog posts tagged with 'pest control'

Ants in your lawn

I was recently asked by a client how to get rid of ants in the lawn. I have to admit that this is a difficult subject to tackle. A plague of ants in the lawn can be uncomfortable at best and at worst will destroy the lawn by creating mounds of finely tilled earth that can kill the grass.

There are proprietary branded products on the market that are supposedly good at killing ants, but from experience they have no use in the lawn as the ants do not take them back to the nest, which is what needs to happen in order to stop this problem. An old wives tale states that boiling water poured onto the nest will do the trick, but to be honest if you want a scorched lawn and a more visible ant’s nest, then this is the path for you. The problem here is the nest will be deep underground so the trick is to upset the natural balance.

Personally, I have found that the best action is a multiple approach.

The first approach is to buy a besom or a Town and Country stiff brush and just brush the mounds away; making sure the soil is dry first of course. If the soil is wet, you get an ugly smear so best wait, or instead hose the mound away. The idea here is the ants do not like to be disturbed and you will give the local jays and robins some food into the bargain.

The second phase, given the British weather is usually damp, is to dress the nest with a mixture of Armillotox and water from a watering can (follow the instructions carefully). The scent will put the ants off the lawn altogether as they communicate by chemical smell, but this may take a summer of repeat treatment to work.

Finally, there is the ultimate solution. Buy borax powder from the hardware shop and mix it with a sugar solution, making sure it is not entirely dissolved. (A sugar solution is basically a cup of water mixed with two table spoons of sugar). Place the mixture next to the nests in a small open container. The worker ants will take the concoction deep into the nest and will unwittingly poison their sisters. If the sugar solution proves too hard, mix the borax with honey. Please be aware, when dealing with poisons, be sure to wear suitable clothing and to make sure it is safe from harming others - children and pets should be kept away from the areas.

If all goes well the ant problem will disappear never to return.

- Guy Deakins

The Secret Gardeners- Wildlife

I am a massive lover of wildlife in the garden. It’s where wildlife belongs and our gardens should belong to the wildlife. Not only is wildlife great from an aesthetic point of view- not many people would grumble at seeing a butterfly or bumble bee in the garden- but also from a necessary biological point of view. All creatures whether beautiful or ugly and slimy have a job in the garden, they all have a reason to be there and a good gardener should understand these reasons and utilise the wildlife to their advantage.

One of the great workers in the garden is the bumblebee, obviously one of the first that comes to mind when thinking of garden insects. The bumblebee has been in the focus of media and campaign groups recently due to its decline in numbers over the last few years, and rightly so. Bumblebees play a massive part in pollinating our flowers in the garden, but not only that they also cross-pollinate all our veg, especially beans. No bees to pollinate your runner bean flowers equals no beans! Its quite easy to encourage bees into your garden, start off by planting lots of bee friendly plants and flowers such as traditional cottage garden plants and wild flowers. Also a nice patch of wild nettles is great for bees. Another great member of staff to encourage into your garden is the ladybird. Again ladybirds have been in decline recently due to the increase of foreign, invasive species such as the harlequin. Ladybirds are fantastic for veg and bedding plants as both the larvae and the adults feed on aphids, saving you the expense of treatments or hand picking yucky aphids off. Most gardens will entice ladybirds, but help them out by planting native wildflowers and leaving areas of garden “untended” to give them plenty of cover. Other insects that prey on aphids and green fly are hoverflies and the dreaded wasp!

Slugs....hmmm...this is a tough one for me, to say that I dislike them may be an understatement. But I know that they belong in the garden and are an equally important piece of the eco-system as anything else. Slugs and snails may not play an obvious role in the garden and may seem like an unwanted pest, but in the larger scheme of things, slugs and snails do a great job at consuming and helping dead and decaying plants to rot down into the soil to be turned into humus. Worms also carry out this vital part of garden activity. These all also play a big part in the food web, being a great food source for toads, frogs and hedgehogs. By having a pond or water and encouraging frogs and toads into your patch, slugs will become much less of a problem.
In fact having a pond in your garden is a great way of encouraging lots of wildlife and at this time of year garden ponds are literally brimming with newts, frogs, toads, damselflies, dragonflies, water boatmen, pond skaters and much more. All of this wildlife playing a vital role in the food web and helping you to garden more naturally with less use of pesticides.

If discouraging insects from the garden is a must for you, then there are lots of natural ways to do so. Such as planting certain species of plant to discourage insects rather than harm them. Tagetes and marigolds make great companion plants for veg to discourage slugs, whitefly and aphids. Planting mint species can persuade ants to take up residence elsewhere. Sage and rosemary are said to deter both carrot flies and cabbage moths. So hopefully this can encourage you not to banish wildlife and insects from your garden but to actively encourage it and take advantage of their natural capabilities.

-- Tom Williams