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Keeping the Great Outdoors Great

It's where kids romp and adults relax, where birds serenade and plants show off their splendor. Just about everyone and everything loves yards and gardens. And pests, unfortunately, are no exception. With these tips and a little time, you can have a yard and garden that are as healthy as they are beautiful.

Pesticides and Fertilizers

Pests are a nuisance and can even cause illnesses. But pesticides, though good for getting rid of pests, are toxic and may be harmful to people. Plus, they can wash into waterways after lawn watering and rainstorms. The good news is you can help minimize infestations by having healthy soil.

Start from the ground up
Healthy plants start with healthy soil. One of the best ways to improve your soil is to add organic matter-decomposing plant and animal material-because it helps soil hold the nutrients that plants need. Plants also like soil with good drainage.

Using natural fertilizers like organic compost This helps reduce plant diseases and pests, provides rich nutrients for plants and helps retain moisture. Learn more about composting for a naturally beautiful yard and garden ยป

Grass-cycling
Allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn. However, to avoid weeds, you should bag your clippings when weed flowers are blooming.

Homemade Remedies

Soft-bodied insects
Try nixing pests like aphids with garlic teas, hot pepper teas or insecticidal soap sprayed on plants.

Snails and slugs: Crushed eggshells or "beer traps" work. Pour a few inches of beer into in a shallow food container. Place the container with the lip at ground level. Slugs are drawn to the beer, but unfortunately for the slugs, they can't swim. Replace the beer every few days.

Weeds: Spray with vinegar. Another solution: Spread corn gluten meal in early springtime. This prevents weeds from growing. Corn gluten also nourishes soil with nitrogen.

Good Bugs: Buy "good bugs" such as ladybugs at a garden store. They can eat insects that harm your plants. Other critters like earthworms promote healthy soil.

Using Pesticides Responsibly

If you use pesticides, always read pesticide labels to learn important instructions about proper handling, application and precautions. Pesticides have been tested to ensure that, when used according to instruction, they can be used with the least amount of risk. Don't assume that organic pesticides are necessarily safer than synthetic pesticides. While organic pesticides are usually derived from natural sources such as plants or minerals, they can actually be as or more toxic than many synthetic pesticides.

KEEPING THE GREAT OUTDOORS GREAT

Pesticides and Fertilizers
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Watering Your Lawn
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