Many options available for local gardeners

Rob Zimmer, Leader Columnist

Photo by Rob Zimmer Whitetails are among the most common garden problem dealt with by local gardeners.

Photo by Rob Zimmer Milorganite is a popular garden product for multiple reasons. It is a great fertilizer, as well as a soil amendment and useful in discouraging certain pests from invading your yard and garden.

Last week, I began my garden product guide series with information on garden soils, amendments and fertilizers.

This week, I’ll begin to cover some of the many options available for weed control, pest control and fungicides.

Just as intimidating to most gardeners as the selection of fertilizers, soils and soil amendments, pest control and weed control shelves at the garden center are a frightening place to those who aren’t sure what to buy.

Bottles, jugs, jars and packages line the shelves, filled with products promising to help control gardeners’ biggest problems and woes.

You’ll find multiple products claiming to repel or keep out deer, rabbits, moles, chipmunks, squirrels and more. Dozens of products that claim to eliminate insect pests, caterpillars, beetles, aphids, ants and other crawling creatures.

You’ll also find dozens of products that claim to work on fungal diseases, blossom end rot, blight, black spot and more.

Before I tackle these individual product categories, let’s first talk about the general practice of addressing garden problems.

This is where most gardeners, especially beginners, immediately make mistakes and start off on the wrong foot.

Know your problem

The most important step in the problem-solving process is knowing the specific issue at hand. Far too many gardeners guess, or purchase products that claim to cure all, only to discover they simply do not.

Avoid guessing and playing detective and go directly to a useful and beneficial source of information to discover specifically what element or past is causing the problem in your garden.

Call or visit your county UW extension office with a sample of the plant or problem. They are more than happy to help you pinpoint the cause. Knowledgeable staff at a local garden center may also be able to assist.

Taking the guesswork out makes it far simpler to solve the problem. Know the specific insect causing damage, the specific fungal problem, the specific weed that you are trying to tackle. All of this information will help pinpoint the product you select to resolve the problem.

Know when to attack

Knowing when to treat or prevent certain garden problems is critical in many cases. In addition to being more effective at treatment, applying a product or solution at the appropriate time also saves money. Many, many gardeners waste a ton of money applying certain treatments during times of the season when they will be of no benefit whatsoever.

Knowing when to treat specific insect problems, such as Japanese beetles, and weed problems, such as crabgrass, makes solving these problems easier and far more effective.

Don’t go cheap

We all do it. We all want to save money. However, in the long run, you will probably spend far more money purchasing a higher quantity of cheaper or less expensive products than spending the extra dollars up front on the correct, most effective solution. In most cases, spending the extra dollars and visiting a local, quality, reputable garden center rather than a discount store will save time and money in the long run.

Visit a reputable retailer

Another benefit to visiting a specialty garden center or retailer locally is knowledgeable staff who is likely familiar with local gardening problems, diseases and pests and has the background and knowledge of the specific products they sell.

Once you’ve determined the actual problem, finding a solution is much easier and you can go to your local garden center with confidence, seeking out the specific product you are looking for to treat the specific problem. Unfazed by the countless copycat products or gimmick solutions, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge behind you to seek out specific solutions and problem-solving products.

Next week, I’ll dive deeper into pest control and weed control.

Find Rob Zimmer online at, or on Facebook at Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays on