10 Common Issues With IPM in Permaculture

No one can avoid pests forever. They’ll make homes in your sustainable garden beds and self-sufficient landscaping, whether you strategically fight them or not. Experts often recommend integrated pest management (IPM) as a long-term solution, but it doesn’t come without a few problems.

These are the 10 most common issues with IPM in permaculture and how you can navigate around them.

1. It May Cost Too Much Upfront

IPM strategies require preventive measures. It consumes time during the day and can cost more money. You’ll have to pay for pest control methods before they ever show up, which can make people wonder if they are wasting their time and money.

2. It Can Disrupt Growth Cycles

The constant monitoring of IPM plans can also make people anxious. They might disrupt their sustainable plant ecosystems by overwatering or changing how often their potted plants get sunlight. These actions may or may not prevent pests, but they’ll definitely hurt the plants’ growth cycles if they break from their existing care routines.

3. It Requires Independent Research

Keeping a preventive eye out for pests will only work if you can identify the bugs on your property. You’ll need to devote ongoing parts of your schedule to researching and studying. Instead of having one spray that affects all invaders, you’d have to recognise each pest species and know what they’re most susceptible to.

4. It Could Involve Chemicals

Preventive IPM treatments often include chemicals that clash with homeowners who want sustainable landscaping. The active ingredients that make conventional pesticides toxic can also hurt the planet through direct applications or rainwater runoff.

5. It Takes More Time

Experimenting with one pest solution or combining multiple techniques to see what works takes more time than applying a traditional pesticide. Some people leave layers of mulch and composting under their garden plants to deter invaders from reaching the root systems. Instead, it could become a home for pests if the mulch piles up or pushes against your home.

You won’t know what works until you’ve tried numerous methods of pest control. If you have a current infestation or expect to have one when the seasons change in the coming weeks, you may not have that kind of time.

6. It Might Change the Property

Netted Plants
Image by Brett and Sue Coulstock (flickr) under CC BY 2.0

People who prefer IPM strategies will use alternative methods to chemical sprays. They may place physical traps like tree glue banding or barriers like netting around their property. The unsightly additions will disrupt their landscaping’s design and become an eyesore even if it works.

7. It Can Hurt Pets

Some IPM treatments can harm curious pets if they ingest too much. An organic product like calcined kaolin can cause constipation or stop digestive tracts from functioning when consumed.

Invest in your animals if you’re hesitant to add anything like that to your self-sustaining landscaping. A suitable species can act as pest control, like chickens that eat bugs and insects that would otherwise require chemical pesticides. They’re an excellent addition to households and homesteads that are already open to taking care of more pets.

8. It Requires More Planning

Crop rotation is another IPM strategy, but it may require more planning than you’ve ever put into your property. Homesteaders would need to plan their crops months before planting them, if not more than a year. Although moving them to adjust the soil composition effectively battles many pests, it could take more effort than people with small gardens or busy schedules can manage.

9. It Needs Additional Planting Strategies

You would also have to restrict how many of your plants you could grow each season with an IPM plan. Companion planting places desired crops between other varieties that naturally repel pests, limiting how many plants you can grow in any season. Some property owners don’t enjoy this pest control method because they have little space for their big permaculture dreams.

10. It Has to Include Evaluations

Reflection is a critical part of anyone’s IPM experience. You’ll need to track all your efforts in a journal to evaluate if things did or didn’t work. Assessing your efforts also requires time, which can feel like a waste if your strategies don’t end up working.

Learn About IPM in Permaculture

People often see integrated pest management as the perfect solution for anyone interested in sustainable landscaping, but it’s not the best strategy for everyone. Consider these common issues with IPM in permaculture to decide if it’s right for your home.

Jane Marsh

Jane writes on environmental sustainability, agriculture and gardening. She also works as the Editor-in-Chief of


  1. Dear Jane, have you ever grown fruit for your family in a high-biodiversity zone with lots of birds? It’s kind of funny that you have used a photo of our home garden where we successfully do that as a “negative” illustration. Fruit tree netting, how UNSIGHTLY – and IF it works. Well it does work, thanks for asking, giving us masses of fruit without harming any birds, but apparently it’s just SO ugly. You know what was there before? Just pasture. Now it’s a permaculture system that made us nearly self-sufficient for fruit and vegetables WITHOUT using pesticides, guns etc, and it also supports many native birds and insects the pasture didn’t. Have you got any better suggestions that can beat that? It is SO easy to be critical – not so easy to do better. Cheers, Sue & Brett Coulstock, Red Moon Sanctuary.

    1. Hi Sue & Brett,

      I apologize for the link to your home garden with the paragraph describing landscape design disruption. However, I am not involved in the photo selection process and did not mean for the two to be paired. The article is also not intended to make gardeners use pesticides or to say that’s the only method to successful gardening. I merely wanted those interested in reducing or removing the use of pesticides to understand some of the hurdles they may face and hopefully have a better idea of what the best method of pest control for their garden may be.

      All the best,

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