Gardening is a soothing, peaceful pastime that brings you in touch with the earth and allows you to spend time cultivating life and growing food and flowers for your family. That is until a massive wave of pests come through and rips your carefully tended plants to shreds. Though it’s impossible to keep every single creature from your garden, there are ways to limit the pesky critters that seem obsessed with eating your plants. Check out our favorite pest control methods, that don’t require harmful chemicals.
Crawling and flying insects aren’t the only critters that like to come and take advantage of your fresh produce and destroy your carefully cultivated garden. Deer, rabbits, dogs, and other larger animals can all wreak havoc on your beds, disturbing the soil, crushing plants, and chewing through delicate foliage. Install a fence that digs slightly into the ground to ensure a good seal against the invaders. Of course, deer can jump all but the highest fence, so if you have a problem with these mammals, you may want to surround individual plants in a tall barrier.
Two of the most common garden pests include aphids and spider mites. These bugs are plentiful and will attack even the most resilient plants. Thankfully, they can be dried out and killed by a simple solution of 5 tablespoons of dish soap and 4 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spritz liberally wherever you find these bugs.
Prevention is essential when it comes to pest management. Grow disease and pest-resistant cultivars and spend time daily in the garden watching for any unusual or harmful insects or evidence of invasion. Weed regularly, water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves, and grow in nutrient-rich, clean soil and compost.
Even if you don’t have a compost pile (which you totally should!), it is a great idea to keep your eggshells. Crush them up and scatter them in the soil around your plants to deter crawling insects. Essentially, the eggshells act like shards of glass, and any ground-bound bugs will quickly detour to find an easier meal.
Sprinkle a thin layer of cayenne pepper in the soil around your plants to help keep your dog from digging up your flowers and teach your outdoor cats that the garden isn’t mean to be a litter box. It is also beneficial for turning away those ants that seem to come from everywhere. You will have to reapply due to watering, but this fragrant spice is an easy way to protect your plants.
When it comes to natural pest control in the garden, it is important to get ahead of the problem and play offense, not just defense. Attract predators to your yard that will do the heavy lifting for you. Of course, before you start attracting all sorts of other bugs and animals, make sure that they won’t exacerbate the problem by causing more harm to your plants. Do some research to determine which critters are the natural enemies of your most persistent garden pest. For instance, slugs and other ground pests make a yummy feast for lizards, toads, and beetles, while aphids will be eaten up by ladybugs and lacewings.
Plant with intention
Some plants are just leagues above others in preventing pests and deterring deviant bugs. Plant fragrant herbs just as yarrow, citronella, mint, fennel, catnip, basil, and lemongrass around your vegetables or flowers to serve as a natural barrier. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy fresh herbs for cooking. What’s not to love?
Though it may seem too simple to work, a high power hose nozzle against a beetle infestation could be the answer to all of your problems. Simply crank the stream to high and go to town. Though this doesn’t work well for plants with delicate foliage, more hardy plants will recover well from the onslaught of water. The beetles and other hard-shelled bugs will fly right off and give you more time to eradicate them from your garden without them destroying your precious plants.
Yes, birds love berries. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting all season for your fruit to mature and then watching helplessly from the window as a songbird swoops in and steals it. Cover your berry bushes (or any other plants that birds love) with netting to protect your harvest.
What other methods do you know of to keep pests out of the garden? Let us know in the comments below!