Anise Swallowtail with Alyssum flowers. Photo by Peter Alexander
Many pesticides can harm bees, birds, and butterflies. You probably don’t need pesticides to keep a garden healthy. If you do plan to use pesticides, use pollinator-safe products.
Do I need to use pesticides to solve this garden challenge?
No, not usually. To safely resolve your pest challenges, ask a Master Gardener by calling (650) 276-7430, Mondays and Thursdays 9am-4pm. Volunteer Master Gardeners who staff the telephone help line are certified community volunteers that provide free, one-on-one advice, assisting home gardeners with questions about gardening and pest management.
If you choose to use garden products, find nurseries and hardware stores selling pollinator-safe products. The nurseries and stores listed provide fact sheets and signage to make it easy to choose safer products. When you are at the nursery, check a product for the Our Water, Our World logo. Avoid combination fertilizer-pesticide products, which add chemicals to your garden that you may not need.
Where can I get professional landscaping support?
Bay-Friendly landscaping professionals use a sustainable approach to create healthy, drought-resistant landscapes.
Flowering Maple (Abutilon). Photo by Peter Alexander
Plants don’t need to be perfect. They can take some insect damage and be just fine.
Observe & Interact
Enjoy and observe your garden often, so you can catch problems early.
Water and fertilize just enough.
To suppress weeds and reduce your watering needs, apply 2”- 6” of coarse mulch. Keep your soil healthy by using compost in your garden.
Weeds or Dinner?
Not all weeds are invasive. Some of the plants that you call weeds, a pollinator calls dinner!
Choose a Bee-Friendly Plant Nursery
Where can I find free or low-cost compost or mulch in San Francisco?
- Safer products - Safely manage ants, aphids, slugs, and other garden pests.
- Sustainable planting resources (SF Plantfinder)
- Bay-friendly landscaping and gardening resources (ReScape)
- California Native Plant Society - Yerba Buena Chapter (San Francisco and Northern San Mateo County)
Pests & Pesticides
- Garden pests - find out how to deal with specific pests in your garden.
- Pest control tips - PDF, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)
- Don’t plant a pest - more alternatives to invasive garden plants (California Invasive Plant Council)
- Pesticides used in plant production ("Gardeners Beware" from Friends of the Earth)
- Pesticide Hazards
- Gardening Tips (PDF, SFPUC)
- Control weeds with mulch (PDF) - Apply 2”- 6” of course mulch to suppress weeds and reduce your watering needs.
- Avoid planting invasives - alternatives to invasive garden plants (Plant Right)
- A guide to creating a drought-tolerant pollinator garden (Pam Pierce on SF Gate)
- Seasonal Bee Gardening (UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab)
- Drought-tolerant plants native to San Francisco (California Native Plant Society)
- Selecting Plants for Pollinators (California Coastal Chaparral Forest and Shrub Province, Pollinator Partnership)