Lawn with weeds. (Cheryl Wilen)
Lawn with weeds. (Cheryl Wilen)

In what has been dubbed “dandelion-gate,” members of the Washington State legislature spent 20 minutes complaining about weeds on the capital’s lawn. “In all the years I’ve been here I’ve never seen so many dandelions all over,” Sen. Mike Padden (R) said. “Is it your policy not to treat dandelions?” The department responsible for landscaping responded that the legislature cut its budget and now it only has 15 people covering the nearly 500 acre campus.

More and more, cities and public agencies are being asked to review and revise (and in some cases develop) their pesticide use policies. Often this change is requested by well-meaning members of the community after reading news articles and then becoming concerned about potential toxic effects of pesticides on children or the environment. In the case above, the grounds crew was also responding to requests from a public interest group that wanted them to reduce synthetic herbicide use and they were experimenting with natural and sustainable landscaping and organic weed control.

Integrated pest management (IPM) programs are just that – INTEGRATED. IPM programs combine or stack management approaches to balance the desired effect (e.g. higher crop yield, decreased plant damage, etc.) with cost of the desired goal and environmental impacts.

From What is IPM?:

The most effective, long-term way to manage pests is by using a combination of methods that work better together than separately. Approaches for managing pests are often grouped in the following categories.

Biological control

Biological control is the use of…