Landscaping Matters Around Food Plants

06/2022 Issue: Landscaping Matters Around Food Plants

By: Joshua Villazana, M.Sc., Dynamic IPM Specialist


Landscaping Considerations

When you drive by a food production plant, you may be reminded of pleasant smells, smoke from high-top industrial chimneys, and large endless brick walls. However, at a closer glance the exterior may have blooming flowers and lush greenery that creates an inviting work environment for staff, customers, and contractors alike. Interestingly, some facilities may neglect to consider the impact landscaping choices may have on pest pressure around the property. Those landscaping choices may cause a frenzy of pest activity right beneath freshly manicured grounds, and some landscape practices can play a significant role in making your facility vulnerable to pests. To prevent creating an attractive harborage for pests, it is important to consider factors such as vegetation type and position when planting vegetation around buildings (Bennet 2010).

Radiant flowers and ground covering plants may provide a pleasant atmosphere, but they can also offer an invitation to pests. Some ornamental flowers can attract bees, stinging insects, and other flying pests. Therefore, it may be wise to recommend to customers that planting fewer blooming flowers close the building may help decrease the presence of flying pests near a facility. It is especially important to avoid planting foliage bearing nuts, seeds, or fruits since they provide a food source for foraging pests. In addition, it is advised to reduce ground covering plants such as spreading yews (Taxus cuspidata) and crawling junipers (Juniperus horizontalis) since they can provide a harborage space for insects and rodents (Siddiqi 2021). Any vegetation too close to a building can function as a crossing point for insect pests. Highly mobile insects such as ants, spiders, and cockroaches can gain access to the building using adjoining vegetation.

One way to dissuade pets from entering a facility from landscaping can be by having a three-foot gravel strip with quarter-inch pebbles around the perimeter of the facility (Siddiqi 2021). Rodents are not keen on traversing open spaces and the pebbles can be an impediment to roaches, ants, and other crawling insects. By setting up a protective barrier around the building, it can help discourage pest entry and keep landscaping in good shape (Leong 2016).  

Pollinating insect concerns

It is the utmost importance to prevent flying insect pests from entering a food production plant. However, aside from discouraging them from entering, it is substantial to reflect on the idea that not all insects are bad. By eliminating vegetation that won’t favor pest insect species it adds a caveat by reducing insect pollinator habitat for insects such as honey bees, native solitary bees, and monarch butterflies. There are about 3,600 species of bees native to the United States and they provide pollination to wild plants in natural ecosystems as well as to many different fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. For some crops such as tomatoes and blueberries, only native bees provide the sonication (buzz pollination) required for the most effective pollination. Native bees alone contribute more than $3 billion worth of crop pollination annually to the U.S. economy (Adamson 2021). Overall, bees are responsible for more than $25 billion in agricultural production in North America annually and roughly one-third of all the foods we eat are pollinated by honeybees (Xerces 2017).

Regrettably, many pollinator friendly habitats are diminishing and the disappearance of honeybee colonies in North America has been on the rise from a phenomena known as colony collapse disorder. It may be of interest to provide pollinator island habitats that are not in close proximity to the facility. This will provide pollinators with fuel from floral resources that will later benefit crops that need insect pollinators as they continue their journey to find nectar. In fact, General Mills has made efforts to enter a five-year, $4 million bee habitat partnership with the non-profit Xerces Society and the USDA to plant 100,000-plus acres of pollinator habitat (Xerxes 2017). Another company Häagen-Dazs began funding sustainable pollination and colony collapse research at University of California at Davis and at Pennsylvania State University (Fusaro 2009).


Work cited

Adamson, N. L., E. May, A. Code, E. Lee-Mäder, S. Morris, and M. Vaughan. 2021 (2018). Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Bees and Other Agriculturally Beneficial Insects. 20 pp. Portland, OR: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Bennett, G. W., Owens, J. M., Corrigan, R. M., & Truman, L. C. (2010). Truman's scientific guide to pest management operations. North Coast Media, LLC.

Fusaro, Dave. “2009 Processor of the Year: Nestle USA.”, 2009,

Hartman, Laura. “The State of Transparency in Food and Beverage.”, 2017,

King, Jerry. “April 2017 Food Funny: Vote for Your Favorite Caption.” Monthly Cartoon Caption Contest, 2017.

Leong, Misha & Bertone, Matthew & Bayless, Keith & Dunn, Robert & Trautwein, Michelle. (2016). Exoskeletons and economics: Indoor arthropod diversity increases in affluent neighbourhoods. Biology Letters. 12. 20160322. 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0322.

Siddiqi, Zia. “Keep Pests Out of Sight with These Landscaping Tips.” Trim the Hedges, 2021,

Xerces Society. “General Mills, NRCS and the Xerces Society Announce Multi-Year, $4 Million Investment in Pollinator Habitat: Xerces Society.”, 2017,