It's hard to believe an insect as tiny as an aphid can be so annoying. These sapsuckers are common in the garden and can be found on the leaves of trees, shrubs, and ornamental plants. It's easy to spot large aphid infestations because other insects, such as yellow jacket wasps and ants, are drawn to the sticky honeydew aphids secrete. Fortunately, there are several ways to get ride of these little pests:
- Invite beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps, into your garden by planting a variety of flowering plants.
- Hose aphids off plants with a forceful spray of water, taking care not to damage delicate leaves or flowers.
- Control aphid outbreaks with insecticidal soaps, insecticide sprays, or horticultural oils.
Smart gardeners save time and effort by leaving their grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. Contrary to what some believe, this practice does not cause thatch but encourages healthy lawns by feeding beneficial worms and microorganisms. Clippings also recycle nutrients and reduce the amount of landscape waste headed to the landfill. If you want to employ clippings, use the mower bag to collect untreated grass clippings to use as mulch in the vegetable garden. Apply several thin layers around plants to reduce weeds, moderate the soil temperature, and conserve water.
Containers on the Cheap
Container gardening is a smart way to maximize your growing space. Patio gardens can sprout in any spot that gets 5 to 6 hours of sun each day. Plant in low-cost containers such as 5-gallon buckets, large plastic storage tubs, 2-gallon indoor houseplant pots, and hanging baskets. Free container options include the plastic food-grade buckets discarded by doughnut shops, fast-food restaurants, and grocery store bakery departments. Drill drainage holes in the container bottom before planting and elevate on bricks to aid drainage.
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