Pests and Diseases

How to Manage your Landscape Using Fewer Pesticides

Create cultural conditions that benefit your plants.

  • Know plants you have in the yard
  • Get a soil test
  • Learn optimal conditions for your plants (pH, light, and water requirements)
  • When planting choose the right plant for the right place
  • Avoid insecticides to encourage beneficial predatory insects
  • Encourage beneficial insects with small flowered native plants

Create cultural conditions that make it less desirable for pests

  • Increase space between plants (especially trees and shrubs) for better air circulation
  • In garden and perennial beds improve soil with layers of compost each year
  • In vegetable gardens rotate plants so that plants in the same family are not planted in the same spot every year
  • Vary planting and harvesting schedule for vegetables to take advantage of time when pest is less active
  • Follow soil test recommendations; don’t over fertilize
  • Reduce amount of monoculture, the cultivation of a single crop or organism (ex: Fescue grass lawn)
  • Follow Virginia Tech lawn care recommendations

Practice good sanitation

  • Clean up fallen leaves from diseased plants, bag and dispose in landfill
  • Prune out diseased branches and dispose properly
  • Sanitize tools after each cut with bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) or use alcohol (70% or greater)
  • Wear disposable gloves and wash clothing when working around plants know to be infected with easily spread diseases such as boxwood blight
  • Remove dead plant material from vegetable garden where insects can overwinter

Catch pest problems early before they become harder to control

  • Scout yard regularly for plants that don’t look normal or healthy
  • Examine plants for insects and disease when buying
  • Identify problems and send photos or bring samples to the Hanover Cooperative Extension. You can reach us at 804-752-4306 or
  • Follow recommendations in Virginia Tech Pest Management Guide
  • If necessary, choose pesticides that cause the least harm to other organisms

Tips provided by Master Gardener Emily Gianfortoni as part of a Home Gardening Series handout

More Information on Pests