We here at Rice Road have a great selection of pest and fungus control. Our knowledgeable staff can help advise you on application of products and can also help you choose the correct product for the problem you are having in your gardens.

  • Bring in a sample of the issue you are having,it is best to bring in a cutting of the affected growth which shows damage and some good growth. An experienced staff member at customer service will help identify and recommend control measures to help eliminate the issue. Many times people believe they are having a fungal issue and it turns out to be a pest problem and vice versa.

Cosmetic pesticide ban: what does it mean for the gardener?

In April 2009 the province of Ontario passed a law restricting the non-essential use of pesticides. Nearly half of Canada’s population is covered by similar restrictions which aim to reduce the health risks associated with these chemicals. Various studies point at increased cancer rates and other health issues associated with chemical pesticides. Young children are especially susceptible from hand-to-mouth contamination as they explore the world around them.

Some very common pesticides that are no longer permitted for domestic use include the herbicides 2-4-D, mecoprop and dicamba (found in Killex and Weed and Feed) and glyphosphate (Round-Up), as well as the insecticides diazinon and carbaryl (found in many insecticide products).

Environmental benefits aside, this pesticide ban limits the methods available for dealing with common garden problems like a bug infestation or a lawn full of dandelions. Environmentally conscious gardeners have been asking for alternative products for years. This increased demand has made many organic pesticides not only available, but economically viable.

  • One word of caution, just as with their chemical counterparts, how you apply organic products can determine the difference between success and failure. Read the label and use these products according to their directions.

Organic Methods For Dealing With Bug Problems

Insecticidal Soaps are contact sprays that disrupt the insect’s cell membrane leading to death. Soaps are effective against many insects including aphids, spider mites and mealybug. Apply at first sign of problem and repeat weekly for 2 or 3 times and thereafter as required. Make sure you spray the top and bottom of the leaves.

Pyrethrins are a natural insecticide derived from the painted daisy. Limited to indoor use (they cannot be broadcast sprayed).They are found in insecticidal soap products such as Safer’s Trounce and Safer’s End-All . They control many insect pests including, aphids, mealybug, whitefly, spider mites and scale (applied at the crawler stage). Apply at first sign of disease and again 10-14 days later if required. Pyrethrins are biodegradable, but avoid using near ponds and streams as they are toxic to fish.

Ferric Phosphate is effective against slugs and snails and is used as the base for slug bait. Slug and Snail Bait by Safer’s is harmless to pets and any undigested bait breaks down into the soil. When slugs and snails ingest this s bait, it interferes with their digestive process and makes them stop eating immediately,and then they perish soon after.Will not harm any beneficial insects.

Mineral oil is used to kill over-wintering insects on trees and is sold as dormant oil or horticultural oil. The oils must be applied in early spring before the leaf buds open and when there is no risk of frost. Mineral oil can be used alone (Green Earth Horticultural Oil) or in combination with lime sulphur (Wilsons Dormant Spray Kit) to control insects and disease. Horticultural oil is also used to control Euonymus Scale in the growing season. Apply to cover all parts of the plant. Another product that works in a similar way is Safer’s End-All. It is made with canola oil and is useful against scale.

Nematodes are nature’s most abundant life form and these microscopic worms are found all over the world. The two species of interest to the gardener are Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema carpocapsae. These feed on many soil pests like grubs and surface pests like webworms respectively. Nematodes are harmless to people and pets, as well as beneficial creatures like worms. They are easy to apply using a hose-end sprayer. Since nematodes are a living organism be sure to pay attention to the storage and usage directions on the package. We carry a product called Lawn Guardian, produced by Natural Insect Control, which contains nematodes native to Canada. They are  produced in Ontario on a live host. This means they are fresher, more keyed to Canadian pests and 100% organic. It contains two nematodes, one that feeds close to the surface and one that goes deeper. While used mainly for pest control in the lawn, Lawn Guardian is proving effective against many other pests as well including Iris borer, leaf miner and thrip.

Silicon Dioxide or Diatomaceous Earth, is sold as many different insecticides. It can be used indoor as well as outdoors to control many insects, anything that crawls. Can also be applied as a barrier against slugs around susceptible plants like Hostas.

BT Bacillus thuringiensis is packaged in several formulations including Safer’s BTK which is used to control many types of caterpillars on and crops and ornamentals. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the soil and is known to help control caterpillars of pest species such as gypsy moth, spruce budworm and cabbage looper. It is considered very safe to use since it has little or no non-target effects, breaks down in the environment after 3-7 days and is safe for humans,it can be used up to the day of harvest. Once eaten by the caterpillar a specific enzyme in their stomachs activate a toxin within the bacteria that paralyzes their stomach and they stop feeding. After ingestion of the bacterium they usually die within 1-3 days.

Boric acid or borax is most commonly found in ant bait preparations like Wilson’s Antex.Great for eliminating ants inside and outside.

Pheromone traps use a scent based lure to attract and trap beetles and wasps. Safer’s Japanese Beetle Trap should be placed 3 metres away from the plants to be protected. To keep wasps away from outdoor entertainment areas place Scotts EcoSense Yellow Jacket Traps away from these areas. While very effective, these lures may actually attract these pests to your garden so if you don’t have a problem, avoid using them.

Safer’s Sticky Strips are bright yellow plastic cards coated with an adhesive. These attract various flying pests such as fungus gnats, thrip and whitefly. The bugs get trapped in the adhesive.

Organic Methods For Dealing With Fungal Problems

Sulphur is available in a powdered form (Safer’s Sulphur Dust), and in a liquid spray (Safer’s Defender). It is used primarily to control mildew, black spot and rust on ornamental plants as well as scab on fruits. Apply at first sign of disease and repeat at 10-14 day intervals as required.

Copper Sulphate which is sold under the name Bordo is used to control disease and fungus organisms on plants. It is effective against blight, leaf spot as well as peach leaf curl, anthracnose and other diseases.

Combination Insecticide/Fungicide Products

Roses and some other ornamentals often attract more than one type of problem such as a combination of aphids and mildew for example. There are some products that deal with both issues. Safer’s 3in1 spray is both an insecticide and a fungicide.

Organic Methods For Dealing With Weeds

Corn gluten meal is a by-product of corn processing that was discovered to have herbicidal properties in the 1980s. It works by preventing germination of seeds. Environmental Factors Turf Maize is effective on various lawn weeds including crabgrass and dandelions when applied as a pre-emergent control in spring at around the time the Forsythia bloom, and again in fall. Apply at least six weeks before or two weeks after over-seeding. Corn gluten meal breaks down as organic nitrogen (10-0-0) which is an added benefit for the lawn. Corn gluten meal products with fillers added are beneficial as a fertilizer, but do not have the same weed suppressing properties.

Acetic Acid (Scotts Eco Sense) is a non-selective (kills everything green) contact (must be sprayed on foliage) herbicide for use on driveways, patios and in gardens. It acts quickly and controls many weeds. Avoid using in lawns except as a shielded spot spray to control perennial weeds and avoid spray drift on desirable plants or surrounding turf.

Iron (Scotts Weed B Gon) is a selective(will not kill grass) contact (must be sprayed on foliage) herbicide for use on lawns. It acts quickly and controls many weeds like dandelions,english daisy,white clover, moss and algae. Visible sign of control may be seen within hours after application.


As long as you’re going green, consider buying a re-usable sprayer and getting concentrated organic products. Most types mentioned come in a concentrated form, this not only saves you money, it saves on packaging.

Customer Preferred Products

Nematodes: This is a natural grub control that we have carried as an alternative for over 10 years. Although you may not be familiar with it, we are. Not only are we confident in it’s ability to get rid of grubs, our customers love it as well for many reasons including; completely pet and people safe, our nematodes are a Canadian strain. Each package comes with 2 types of Canadian nematode (Canadian nematodes are hardier and can tolerate a little bit cooler temperatures): one nematode naturally stays near the top of the soil and one goes deeper down. We keep ours in the fridge to keep them dormant (as they are a living organism).

Diatomaceous Earth: With a fancy name who wouldn’t love this product? Jokes aside this is a completely safe product and a great multi-tasking bug control. A good way to look at this product and what it can control is – if the insect crawls this will take care of it. Use to control slugs in hostas, ants and sowbugs in the house, pepper maggots and caterpillars on veggies and more. Customers love how easy it is to use and that it can be safely used indoors around animals and children.

  • A Final Note:
    Many of the above problems can be dealt with using common sense cultural practices. If you see an infection on a plant, cut it out before it spreads and then monitor the plant to see if a pesticide is needed. Keep grass thick with proper aeration, regular applications of fertilizer, and infrequent but deep waterings. Mow high to deter weeds, and hand-pull weeds before they become an infestation. Try to determine what the problem is before you spray, and if you’re not sure, bring in a sample to one of our experts for identification.