Deputize a Pest-Control Posse

If you’re using chemical pesticides in your yard because you’re afraid that insects will destroy your lawn and gardens, I have one word to say to that notion: Hogwash! If you quit cold turkey, throngs of beneficial insects will show up and start devouring the plant trashers.

Here are some of your most prolific allies:

Assassin bugs go gunnin’ for aphids, armyworms, beetles, mole crickets, and sod webworms.
Big-eyed bugs hanker for aphids, armyworms, chinch bugs, and sod webworms.
Ground beetles gobble up ants, aphids, armyworms, cutworms, grubs, mites, and mole crickets.
Ladybugs love aphids, chinch bug larvae, mites, and scale.
Spined soldier beetles go bonkers for sod webworms.

These pest-control workers will quickly find their way to any flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar. But the secret to keeping them on the job is to follow this three-point plan:

1. Provide water. Just sink plant saucers into the ground, set some pebbles inside (letting some of the stones show above the surface), and pour in the H2O.
2. Mix it up. The more kinds of plants you have, and the more menu and shelter options you provide, the more kinds of helpers you’ll attract — and the more kinds of pests they’ll polish off. It’s especially important to plant a mixture of flowers so that something is in bloom throughout the growing season.
3. Go native. To enlist a first-class dream team, look for plants (especially trees and shrubs) that are native to your area. Local heroes will flock to your doorstep!