Fifty or sixty years ago at the peak of the chemical revolution following World War II, it was thought that all you had to do was spray, spray, spray to rid yourself of any and all of your ornamental plant problems. It seemed so simple.

Unfortunately, there is rarely, if ever a case where dealing with nature is simple. Over time we found that there were plenty of negative impacts to our spraying...some of which nobody could have predicted at the time. The environmental impacts were mind boggling at times.

Fortunately, the trends have been changing, if too slowly at times, and more environmentally sensitive approaches are becoming more common. One of the pioneering changes came with the development of a process called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is sometimes now called Integrated Plant Management.

Originally, this was aimed at farmers and orchardist and those in the job of producing our crops. However, the concepts in this process are easily adapted to the home landscape.

Essentially, IPM asks you to truly identify your problem (and not just guess about it), figure out how much damage you are willing to accept (we don't need perfection), look at the whole range of alternatives for achieving your goal and then taking a look to see if what you did really helped.

The following four sections will help you to develop a thought process for using the Integrated Pest/Plant Management system in your backyard. Give it a try. Your pocketbook, your landscape plants and your natural environment will thank you.

  1. Assess the Situation
  2. Determine a Threshold
  3. Control Alternatives
  4. Evaluate the Results

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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