5 Reasons to Use Diatomaceous Earth in Your Lawn and Garden - Backyard Boss
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5 Reasons to Use Diatomaceous Earth in Your Lawn and Garden

When it comes to creating and maintaining a thriving lawn and garden, starting from the ground up is key. That’s why more and more people are turning to diatomaceous earth (DE) as an all-natural way to protect against pests. DE gives gardens that lush look that everyone dreams about.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, DE offers an array of benefits that help you create and maintain a lush outdoor oasis. Discover why DE might be the miracle powder your plants have been waiting for.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth
Image credits: FotoHelinvia Shutterstock

This naturally-occurring substance is made up of sedimentary rock consisting of fossilized diatoms — a type of microscopic aquatic organism with hard shells constructed out of silica — an abundant mineral found in the Earth’s crust.

The fine powder has an almost talcum-like texture to the touch, but under a microscope you can see its sharp edges that serve as tiny knives. These edges act like tiny blades, slicing into the exoskeleton of pests such as fleas, ticks and cockroaches, causing them to dehydrate and die. This makes diatomaceous earth an effective pest control agent when used in gardens.

For Aphids 

These tiny pests wreak havoc on gardens, sucking out plant juices and causing extensive damage if left unchecked. Luckily, diatomaceous earth offers a brilliant solution that’s easy to use and safe for the environment.

Simply sprinkle a light coating of the powder around your plants or spread it over soil. Get an even coverage, as this helps prevent aphids from escaping.

You can also use DE indoors to battle aphid infestations in your indoor garden. Simply place a small amount of the powder near or on the plants or in areas where you’ve seen the pests before. Doing so should create an effective barrier that repels the insects away.

For Beetles 

Diatomaceous earth is a great solution for getting rid of hard-shelled bugs like beetles in your lawn and garden. It works by desiccating the exoskeleton of beetles as they come into contact with it, eventually leading to death.

For Caterpillars 

Diatomaceous earth works by cutting through a caterpillar’s exoskeleton and dehydrating them, killing them in the process.

When using DE for caterpillars, spread it around your garden or lawn. Apply enough so that you create a barrier that the caterpillars can’t cross. You should also apply it in areas where you think they may have made their way in, such as around windows and doors or near cracks or crevices.

Once you have applied DE to your garden, check back regularly to make sure there aren’t new infestations and re-apply if necessary.

For Slugs and Snails 

If you’re tired of dealing with slugs and snails ravaging your garden, it’s time to look into Diatomaceous earth. This natural pest control solution is an excellent way to protect your plants from these aggravating pests without resorting to harsh chemicals.

When applied as a band around each plant, the sharp edges on DE’s particles cut through slug and snail shells, causing the pests to dehydrate and die. To use DE as a slug and snail deterrent, simply sprinkle the powder in a band that’s 1 inch high by 3 inches wide around each vulnerable plant.

For Cutworms

Diatomaceous earth is a powerful weapon in your fight to keep cutworms away from your lawn and garden. Cutworms are small caterpillars with heavy, grayish-brown bodies that feed on plants at night and hide beneath the soil during the day. Thankfully, DE is an effective way to manage these pests and protect your garden!

DE works by creating a sharp barrier around plants that cause physical damage to insects such as cutworms when they come into contact with it. To use DE effectively against cutworms, you’ll want to sprinkle a barrier around the base of your plants in a light but even layer.

Tips for Using Diatomaceous Earth in Your Garden

Using diatomaceous earth in your garden is a great way to control pests while still keeping it safe and natural. Here are some tips to get the most out of using diatomaceous earth in your garden.

Re-apply After Rain

Rainy day- rain on a plant
Image credits: Anil Xavier via Unsplash

One of the biggest tips when using diatomaceous earth is that you need to re-apply it after rain. That’s because diatomaceous earth loses its efficacy when wet and needs to be reapplied for maximum protection.

When it rains, diatomaceous earth clumps together therefore it works best when dry.

Wear Gloves and a Mask

gardening tools
Image credits: Gary Barnes via Pexels

Protective gear is essential when using this product, as it may irritate skin and lungs. Wear gloves and a face mask when handling it, as well as goggles, in case the powder gets into your eyes. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Food Grade

Diatomaceous earth
Image credits: Helin Loik-Tomson via Canva

When choosing DE for the garden, buy food grade quality as this ensures it contains no added chemicals or fillers that could be harmful. Food grade diatomaceous earth is not toxic, in fact, it’s found in common household items such as toothpaste.

Don’t Overuse

Diatomaceous Earth
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Too much of diatomaceous earth may be harmful to both plants and animals, so use it sparingly. Stick to light applications around your garden beds or for targeted pest control. Always start with a small amount and increase use if necessary.

Rake Off Debris

Girl raking leaves on her lawn in autumn
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Before applying diatomaceous earth, rake up dead leaves or debris from around the garden beds so that it has maximum contact with soil and can be more effective at combating pests.

After cleaning up all the debris, aerate the lawn so your next application can fully penetrate the ground and bring you the best results.

Use Alongside Other Methods

Unripe cluster of green plum roma tomatoes growing in a permaculture style garden bed, with companion planting of marigold and calendula flowers, to attract pollinators and detract garden pests.
Image credits: thoughtsofjoyce via Shutterstock</a

Use DE alongside other organic control methods, such as companion planting, handpicking, and trapping. For a successful pest control system that also benefits your plants’ health, use these methods together.

Keep Out of Reach From Children and Pets

Pet dog in a garden
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Diatomaceous earth isn’t toxic, but it is still best to keep it out of reach from children and pets, as it may cause some skin and respiratory irritation if inhaled. Investing in food grade DE is the only way to truly calm your nerves on the topic.

Monitor Results

Spring garden showing many different colored flowers
Image credits: Vural Yavas via Pexels

Monitor how your plants are doing after applying diatomaceous earth and note changes or improvements you see in their health. Note that you can always add more if needed.

Elemental Protection for Your Garden

Taking preventive measures with natural products such as diatomaceous earth is the best way to have a healthy and pest-free garden. This natural product is an effective, safe, and chemical-free way of getting rid of pests while still keeping your environment and plants healthy. So, don’t forget to grab a bag of diatomaceous earth on your next shopping trip and enjoy its amazing results!

If you have questions or comments about using diatomaceous earth in the garden, share them below! Also, share this blog post with family and friends so they too can learn about the benefits of using diatomaceous earth in their garden.