Rooftop gardens provide innumerable benefits to businesses. In addition to helping manage storm water and improving a building's energy efficiency, a rooftop garden can increase employee morale by providing a nice place for workers to relax. One of the many challenges associated with maintaining a rooftop garden, though, is dealing with the pests that may damage plants and generally make the area unpleasant to be in. Unfortunately, it's not always feasible to use chemical pesticides, because they can pollute rain water and find their way into the city water, so here are three tips for controlling pests using human- and Earth-friendly methods.
Supplement the Fertilizer
The type of fertilizer you use can help naturally repel or eliminate pests in a couple of ways. First, when plants are receiving the right amount of nutrients, they become strong enough to fight off some pests with their natural defenses. So if you notice your plants seem to be struggling or aren't as healthy as they could be, try using a better quality of fertilizer.
Second, you can supplement the fertilizer with solutions that are safe to use around plants but stop bug invasions in their tracks. Crafting a spray using hot peppers and regularly spraying it on and around plants will make them unpalatable to bugs and possibly rodents and small animals because of the capsaicin in the peppers that burns sensitive tissues. Used coffee grounds also make a good pest repellent because some bugs hate the smell, and the acid in coffee can damage the exoskeleton of certain bugs, such as ants.
There are a variety of other things you can supplement the fertilizer with. To learn more about these options, talk to a natural pest control company, plant specialist, or conduct a search online for natural gardening methods.
Enlist the Help of Natural Born Killers
Not all pests are bad. Some bugs and birds can help keep the pest population under control. For instance, Lady Bugs are popular with gardeners because their larvae eat bugs that damage plants, such as aphids and whiteflies. Other beneficial bugs you may want to make a home for in your rooftop garden include the following:
- Syrphid flies
- Soldier bugs
- Damsel bugs
- Ground beetles
Wasps and Yellow jackets are also great bug predators. However, keeping these guys around can be problematic if you have employees who are allergic to bee stings.
Birds can also help with bug and rodent control and make the rooftop garden a nicer place to hang out in. However, birds can easily become pests too, so you want to think carefully about encouraging them to hang around. This is a particularly important consideration if you grow food in your rooftop garden that's used in the company cafeteria, because birds have no qualms about helping themselves to your fruits and vegetables.
You can attract beneficial bugs and birds by adding plants to your garden that they like. For instance, Lady Bugs are attracted to geraniums and yarrow. You can also purchase some bugs from specialty online and offline retailers to use in your garden. Bird feeders are a great way to get feathered friends to visit the rooftop garden.
Erect the Appropriate Barriers
A common concern among businesses that have rooftop gardens is pests attracted to the garden may make their way inside the buildings. You can prevent this from happening by using barrier methods of pest control. For instance, to keep mice and roaches from entering the offices, lay down humane traps around the garden.
Diatomaceous earth is another effective barrier that works well against ants and other pests with exoskeletons. The clay covers the surface of their bodies, essentially causing them to suffocate to death. Laying down about a 1-inch thick border of diatomaceous earth near doors, windows, and other entrances can prevent these pests from entering your building and making your workers miserable.
For more tips on natural ways to keeps pests in your rooftop garden under control, contact a local pest management company, such as Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services.