Now is the time when many of us get outside to work in our yards and gardens. With these activities come choices on how best to use our time, effort and money to achieve a healthy and attractive landscape. We decide to either use all-natural methods (hard work, good soil and water), or to use chemical assistance (herbicides, fungicides, etc.).
I encourage residents to choose nonchemical options for pest and vegetation problems whenever possible to minimize their exposure to toxic chemicals.
Thurston County uses integrated pest management (IPM) to achieve healthy, low-maintenance landscapes around our buildings, at our parks and at all of our managed land. All chemical products that Thurston County uses for pest control and landscaping are reviewed to identify their known chemical hazards. When there is a choice between effective chemical products, the least-hazardous product is used.
IPM relies on regular monitoring of plants to evaluate their health throughout the growing season and even during the winter. When a problem is discovered, the least harmful, yet effective, method is used to maintain the plant’s health or to remove a pest. Whenever possible, the county uses nonchemical controls to keep pest and vegetation problems at manageable levels.
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This spring, more than 20 of Thurston County’s weed-control fact sheets were updated to include recommendations for using herbicides with fewer known hazards, as well as a precaution designed to protect bees and other pollinators when applying pesticides.
Landscape planning is key to long-term success in achieving a low-maintenance, good-looking property.
In the planning stage, consider your yard’s environment. Does it get direct sunlight? Does it have shady areas? Is the soil sandy and well-draining, or does it have clay that retains moisture and slows water from soaking into the ground?
Have you planted species in areas where they can thrive? Do they need more water or fertilizer than you expected?
Placing native plants in the right location can save you a lot of work and water over time. Ask an expert during the planning stage about native plant choices and their ideal planting locations. The WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is a great local resource for information on gardening and horticulture, as well as diagnosis of pest and disease problems. Their office is at 5033 Harrison Ave. NW in Olympia, and they can be reached at 360-867-2162 or email@example.com.
The Native Plant Salvage Project, also run through WSU Extension, helps residents use native plants that require little care to be beautiful in their landscapes. They can be reached at 360-867-2164.
Other resources to help you reduce or eliminate the use of chemical products in your yard include our Common Sense Gardening Guides and our Integrated Pest Management website for homeowners and land managers.
So, get outside, enjoy your summer and keep your yard looking great with your family’s health and safety in mind.
Reach Dr. Rachel C. Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties, at 360-867-2501, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ThurstonHealth on Twitter.