Want a healthier, better-looking garden without the extra work? Gardeners can take advantage of a practice known as integrated pest management (IPM) to alleviate many of the issues found in gardens.

The basic principles of this strategy are to use insects to your advantage by taking cultural approaches to pest management. This is done by monitoring the activity of pests and setting a threshold of when they can no longer be tolerated.

By waiting a little while before using a “kill them all approach,” this gives the beneficial insects a chance to solve the pest problem for you.

IPM can be followed in a few simple steps: identify the pest, assess the damage, find the beneficial insects and determine how much damage you are willing to tolerate.

Planning ahead can go a long way. Find pest-resistant plants, use physical controls and insecticidal soaps or oils, you can even buy beneficial insects for the garden.

Assessing the situation before bringing out the big guns can create a more vibrant garden and give you and your wallet a rest.

Bill Taylor is the UGA- Jackson County Agriculture and Natural Resources Intern.

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