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Organic Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides


by Sydney Boogaard, spring intern

Why use alternatives to pesticides?

If you have the privilege of having a lawn or garden, you aim to keep it lush, green, and pest free. In order to obtain this, many resort to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. While these products may be effective, they are also harmful, not only to the ecosystem, but our own human health. Most fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured with chemicals that can hurt human health; as research has shown even regulated pesticides cause damage, and all the effects have not yet been studied.

Fortunately, there are cost-effective natural alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers that will help you attain that healthy pest free yard, all while being pesticide free. Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe!

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth (DE), is available at most garden centers and home improvement suppliers. It affects all bugs, especially those that have an exoskeleton. There are two types of Diatomaceous Earth, food grade and pool grade. Make sure to purchase the food grade. Pool grade DE is treated with high heat, which in turn causes the crystalline silica in the DE to range from 60-70 percent. In food grade DE the crystalline silica amounts are less than 1 percent; making it safe for animals and humans.

Preparation and use, dust the ground, soil, and plants with the powdered DE. It must be reapplied after a dewy morning, rain storm, or watering; DE must be kept dry to be effective.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is harvested from the seeds and leaves of the neem tree. It has been used as a natural pesticide for hundreds of years. It is also safe to use around our furry family pets and any other wildlife that may cross its path. Neem oil is available at most garden centers and home improvement centers. It disrupts the life of the insect at any stage: egg, larvae, or adult. The biggest bonus is that it does not affect our pollinators or our beneficial earth worms! It is effective against fungi infections and powdery mildew, including; black spot, scab, rust, leaf spot, anthracnose, and tip blight.

Preparation and use, mix 2 teaspoons of neem oil with 1 quart of water and spray on affected plants or trees. Spray in the early morning or evening, the combination of oil and heat can harm your foliage.

To prevent and hinder fungi, spray foliage every 7 to 14 days until the fungus is gone. Continue use every two weeks to keep the fungi culprits from returning.

Peppermint, Thyme, Clove and Rosemary Oil

These four oils are pest repellents:

  • Peppermint oil prevents aphids, squash bugs, ants, beetles, fleas, white flies, and spiders.
  • Thyme controls biting insects such as, chiggers, ticks, and roaches.
  • Clove helps to prevent the infestation of the flying insects.
  • Rosemary repels flies, fleas, mosquitoes, and the cabbage looper caterpillar.

Preparation and use, you can mix equal parts peppermint, thyme, clove, and rosemary, about 10 drops each, into a water filled spray bottle. Spray early morning or evening on effected plants, foliage, and trees.

Indoor Uses

Try spraying around the windows, doors, and other access points to deter these devious insects. Mix 5-7 drops of peppermint oil, a few drops of dish soap, and warm water into a spray bottle and shake well.

Public Resource Guide

We have complied a guide, which contains more helpful tips and tricks for natural and organic alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers. Pages 8-9 include more ways to deter wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, rodents, and weeds with the use of peppermint oil, vinegar, tea tree oil, and homemade insecticidal soap.

Pledge to be Pesticide Free 

Here at SLCgreen we hope these tips on alternatives to pesticides will ensure a health growing season. Proactive care is essential for a healthy and pesticide free yard.

During this year’s growing season we will continue to post tips and tricks on when and how to prep your lawn and garden without the harmful use of pesticides and fertilizers.

We hope you will take the pledge and make a commitment to our health, environment, and ecosystems.

You will also get an attractive yard sign as a symbol of your commitment.  We expect it will also serve as an inspiration to others in your neighborhood to ask and learn more– and hopefully make their own Pesticide Free pledge.

We’ve compiled a guide with helpful to guidelines help you take the pledge with confidence!

Spread the word! Share this post on social media and use the hashtag #PesticideFreeSLC  .

Talk to your friends and neighbors about how and why they can phase out pesticides!

And stay tuned for next week’s #PesticideFreeSLC tip

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