Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Preventive Treatments Disrupt Nature’s Balance


In addition to requiring time, energy and, for that matter money, preventive pesticide treatments disrupt the balance of nature in the garden. With few exceptions, preventive treatments are not specific, but rather generalized: most insecticides indiscriminately kill all insects and most fungicides destroy all fungi. And that’s bad news, since most insects and fungi are either harmless or beneficial. With both bad and good players being removed from the local environment, a vacuum is created… and it is usually quickly filled by something undesirable. That’s because most plant pests spread faster than beneficial fungi and insects. So by trying to prevent one problem, and a hypothetical one at that, then you often create another, usually more severe.

The laidback gardener’s solution? Don’t try to prevent with sprays and powders. Instead, prevent by growing plants known to be resistant to predators and planting them under appropriate conditions  (plants under stress from inappropriate conditions are more prone to disease and insect problems). If a problem does occur, step back 15 paces. If you can’t see the problem, it is probably not serious enough to warrant any action on your part. If it really does appear serious, this is the time to bring out the big guns: go ahead and try an appropriate treatment, but apply it only to those plants that are affected. Finally, if the problem returns the following year, seriously consider planting something else: life is too short to spend applying pesticides!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

  1. Step back 15. I like that. See the big picture. No OCD. Thanks.

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