Eco Friendly Integrated Pest Management

Eco Friendly Integrated Pest Management for Sustainable Pest Control in Organic Gardening

I know how frustrating it can be to deal with pests and diseases that threaten to ruin my plants. That’s why I use a method called Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is a green way of controlling pests in an eco-friendly way without using ecologically damaging and human health risky pesticides. Integrated Pest Management has its roots in sustainable agriculture, where farmers have an environmentally friendly alternative to using chemical pesticides on the farm when controlling pests that affect their crops. IPM to has four main components, which I will explain below.

Check out this article about companion planting to stop pests from even being attracted to your garden

TL;DR Just tell me what pest control I should use to get rid of snails and slugs already!


slugs can be a pest in a garden


Decide on Action Thresholds for Eco Friendly Pest Management

The first step of IPM is to decide how much pest damage you can tolerate before you take action. This depends on your personal preference and the type of plants you grow. For example, I grow a lot of nursery plants for sale in my nursery, so I have a low tolerance for pests that can affect the quality and quantity of my plants that are for sale. I also grow ornamental plants in my family garden, but I don’t mind if I find they have a few holes or spots,. You need to decide on your own action threshold, which is the point at which you will intervene to control the pests and provide more protection to your garden.

Monitoring to Control Pests

The second step of IPM is to monitor your plants regularly for signs of pests and diseases. This way, you can catch any problems early and prevent them from getting worse. I usually inspect my plants every week, or more often if I notice something unusual. I look for things like chewed leaves, discoloured spots, sticky honeydew, webbing, eggs, larvae, or adult insects. Once I identify the pest, I can decide if it meets my action threshold or not. For example, I don’t mind a few aphids on my roses, but I will take action if I see a large colony of them. Monitoring also helps me to use pheromone traps, which are devices that attract and capture certain pests using their natural sex hormones. These traps can help me to determine the level of infestation and the best time to apply control measures.

Pheromone trap attracting codling moth

Eco Friendly Pest Management

The third step of IPM is to prevent pests from becoming a problem in the first place. This can be done by creating a healthy and diverse garden environment that discourages pests and encourages beneficial organisms. For example, I plant a variety of companion plants in my garden, so that I don’t have a single crop that attracts a specific pest.

I like to plant some herbs and flowers that repel pests, e.g. wormwood and lavender, and some that attract beneficial insects, such as yarrow and marigolds. These plants help to keep the pest population in balance and reduce the need for intervention.


Beneficial insects attracted to yarrow 'summer pastels' to combat pests


Space plants properly, so that they have enough room to grow and get enough air and light. This helps to prevent diseases and fungal infections that can weaken the plants and make them more susceptible to pests.

Use organic methods to improve the soil health. Adding compost and manure increases the number and diversity of microorganisms that help the plants to grow and fight off pests.

Organic fertilisers like seaweed and fish emulsion provide the plants with the nutrients they need, without stimulating excessive growth that can attract sap-sucking insects.

Sustainable Integrated Control

ladybirds can be encouraged to the garden with companion plants to help control pests

The fourth and final step of IPM is to use sustainable and integrated control methods, which are the least harmful and most effective ways of managing pests. These methods are used in a hierarchical order, starting with the least invasive and moving to the most invasive as a last resort.

  1. First off I use companion planting, growing things like lavender and marigolds to repel pests and attract predators. Then I use biological control methods, like releasing beneficial insects (e.g. nematodes) that prey on or parasitise the pests. These insects can help to reduce the pest population naturally, without harming the plants or the environment.
  2. Then I use mechanical control methods - handpicking the pests, using emery paper barriers, Diatomaceous earth, and using traps and sticky boards or grease bands. These methods can help to remove or exclude the pests physically, without using any nasty chemicals.
  3. Finally, I use organic chemical control methods, such as insecticidal soap or neem oil, as a last resort, and only when other IPM methods have failed to manage the pest problem. These products are organic and biodegradable, and they have a low impact on the environment and non-target organisms. I always use them according to the label instructions, and I apply them at the lowest effective dose and frequency.
neem oil is an effective organic pesticide

Conclusion of Integrated Pest Management

I hope this article has helped you to understand the principles and practices of pest control using the IPM system, and how you can use them for pest management in your garden in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. Happy gardening! 🌱

Integrated Pest Management Checklist

  1. Choose pest-resistant plants.
  2. Plant companion plants like Wormwood or Lavander to repel and control pest populations
  3. Plant a diversity of plants to attract beneficial insects and predators (e.g ladybirds, hoverflies and parasitoidal wasps)
  4. Space plants properly to control for good air circulation and so they get enough sunlight.
  5. Use organic matter to improve soil health.
  6. Mulch around plants to suppress and manage weeds and to control and retain moisture.
  7. Regularly inspect plants for pests and diseases.
  8. Release beneficial insects that are available to buy online, like nematodes and lacewings for sustainable pest control
  9. Handpick pests, use insect pheromone traps and sustainable traps like beer slug traps which will help in managing small scale pest problems.
  10. Use Insecticidal soap or neem oil as a pesticide responsibly when managing pests.


Integrated Pest Management PDF to use as a printable resource.

Sustainable IPM: Principles of Integrated Pest Management PDF 


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