Integrated Pest Management: A Sustainable and Holistic Approach to Lawn Care

Pests can be a lingering problem for anyone who manages a lawn or professional turf. When your primary focus is mowing, fertilization and top dressing, it’s easy to overlook pest management.

When you first spot pests, the immediate reaction is often to use some form of chemical pesticide to deal with them. While this may solve the problem temporarily, it doesn’t always lead to a sustainable long-term solution. The chemicals used could also be dangerous to pets and people, creating an unsafe area that also negatively affects the environment.

Taking a sustainable holistic approach to lawn care

We believe that a better way to deal with pests is to take a long-term holistic approach. Instead of just dealing with pests as a surface issue, a comprehensive pest management solution tackles the root of the problem. By incorporating natural pest control methods and timing their use correctly, we can effectively remove pests and reduce the likelihood of occurrence in the future.

This approach to holistic pest control is known as integrated pest management.

sustainable lawn care

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach to managing pests. For lawns, IPM refers to the use of various strategies to tackle pest infestations and to reduce the likelihood of future problems.

IPM deals with the most common lawn pests such as grubs and moles, while being sensitive to the environment. It reduces the chances that harm comes to those who use the lawn like people and pets. IPM can also help to treat invasive plant species, or other lawn-related issues that may be the result of a pest or plant infestation.

What does it mean to take a holistic approach to lawn care?

Holistic lawn care refers to a comprehensive and environmentally friendly approach to maintaining your lawn. It combines natural lawn care and synthetic approaches to produce excellent results with reduced negative impact.

Holistic lawn care is important when it comes to integrated pest management. It focuses on the overall well-being of the lawn’s ecosystem, meaning an environment with healthy soil and where beneficial wildlife can thrive. This creates a stable system that protects the lawn above and beneath the surface, leading to a healthier and more vibrant appearance for years to come.

Why is holistic lawn care better for my lawn?

Integrated pest management is typically better for overall lawn health because it takes more factors into consideration.

Typical pest removal and control services focus solely on dealing with active problems, but they often don’t consider a long-term approach to creating an environment that’s less inviting to pests. If the approach doesn’t take the root cause into consideration, it’s likely the pests will return in the future.

This is where a holistic approach to lawn care is helpful. It provides a number of long-term benefits that are better for the overall health of your lawn:

  • Natural pest management means encouraging natural predators and beneficial organisms that can control pests reducing the need for pesticides.

  • Soil health is preserved or improved by avoiding overuse of pesticides that could cause damage to beneficial bacteria making soil nutrients less available. An important tool for enhancing soil fertility is soil testing.

  • Eco-friendly pest removal methods help to improve the lawn while having minimal impact on the local environment. It reduces risk of damage to the surrounding environment, such as contaminating water and air, or causing a loss of biodiversity.
  • mole trap in lawn

    How do integrated pest management programs work?

    IPM involves the use of several natural control methods in order to effectively manage pest populations on your lawn. The basis of any IPM program is a straightforward four-step process:

    Establishing action thresholds before taking action

    Before any pest control takes place, it’s important to establish an action threshold. This is a predetermined pest population level at which actions will begin to take place. However, since it’s impractical to count the exact number of pests or determine when action should be taken based on sightings alone, other signs need to be used.

    For instance, a single sighting per day may not be enough to warrant drastic pest control action. However, if the quality of your lawn begins to deteriorate as a result of the pests, then you can define this as your action threshold.

    Identifying pests and monitoring them before taking action

    It’s important to identify the pests that are in your lawn before attempting to control them. Some organisms may be incorrectly identified as pests, but actually have no negative impact on your lawn. In some cases, certain organisms are actually beneficial to the overall health of your lawn. Earthworms are a great example of this.

    By identifying the pests on your lawn, an IPM program can determine if action needs to be taken and at what scale. This ensures that an appropriate decision is made within your action thresholds. Careful monitoring will also help to determine what control methods are suitable for pest management.

    Related Reading: List of Common Lawn Pests and How to Identify Them

    Preventing pest control problems

    Integrated pest management starts with prevention as the main focus. This can include both biological and mechanical controls. For example, using natural pheromones can disrupt mating cycles to lower the possibility of new pests. Introducing natural predators such as birds using bird feeders can further reduce pest populations. For mechanical strategies, fences and traps can be installed to both deter pests and also capture them so they can be removed.

    Prevention can be a cost-effective way to control pest populations, especially if their numbers have yet to grow.

    Related Reading: How to Get Rid of Moles in Your Lawn

    Controlling pest populations

    Once pests have been identified, monitored, and determined to be a threat to the lawn, control methods can be used in situations where preventative methods are no longer effective. Before any pesticides are applied, a full evaluation should take place to identify potential risk factors and also gauge how much of a particular pesticide is required. It's important that you stay well within the application limits specified on the product label.

    When possible, organic pest control pesticides should be used first, especially if they can target specific pests without disrupting the rest of the ecosystem. However, in the event that multiple pests are detected in large numbers, a synthetic pesticide may be required to control pest populations.

    Does integrated pest management use pesticides?

    With integrated pest management, pesticides are typically only used when other strategies have been exhausted. However, even when pesticides are used, their use is selective and specific to minimize the impact it has on the environment and biodiversity. Natural pest control methods should always be tried first.

    When pesticides are required to assist in pest management, several principles are followed to ensure minimal environmental impact:

    • Natural pesticides will be used when possible.
    • Pests will first be monitored and identified to ensure that pesticides are a viable solution for the problem.
    • Pesticides used will be chosen based on a limited impact on the environment. This includes the effect on non-targeted organisms as well.
    • Targeted spraying of pesticides will be used only as a last resort when other safer methods have shown no progress.
    Non-Toxic Pest Control




    Is integrated pest management right for you?

    Compared to other pest control practices, integrated pest management may seem like a complex and lengthy process. However, it’s a great approach if your intention is to keep pests away for extended periods, or if you’re focused on a sustainable lawn care approach that doesn’t rely solely on chemicals.

    Here is a summary of the pros and cons of integrated pest management:

    Pros of integrated pest management

    • It’s a long-term solution for pest control.
    • Encourages biodiversity and a balanced ecosystem.
    • A reduced pesticide approach to pest management typically means lower costs as nothing needs to be applied regularly.
    • Since less pesticides are used, pests are less likely to develop a natural resistance to the chemicals.
    • More sustainable and reduces environmental impact.
    • Strategies can typically be adapted to lawns of all shapes and sizes.

    Cons of integrated pest management

    • It can take a long time before you start seeing results.
    • It takes additional time to monitor and identify pests before action is taken.
    • A good understanding of the pest and control methods is needed for effective pest control using IPM.
    • More resources are required to perform all of the necessary tasks involved with IPM.
    golf course lawn

    Wrapping it Up

    Integrated pest management could be the holistic pest control solution that you’re looking for. It’s great for long-term pest control and to gain a better understanding of the root cause of your pest problem. However, short-term methods are still viable, so it depends on your circumstances and goals.

    Golf Course Lawn Store can help you control a broad range of lawn pests. Browse our range of insecticides, including environmentally friendly options that are safe for people and pets.