When you put hard work into planting a beautiful garden, it is frustrating to see your effort destroyed by common pests. Insects and animals can wreak havoc on your ornamental plants and vegetables, destroying weeks of work in a day. Garden pests are an age old problem, but fortunately there are several remedies for you to choose from.
Common Garden Pests
In storybooks, you may remember various animals sneaking into a garden to pilfer carrots, cabbages, and other common garden vegetables. In real life, rabbits, deer, and a variety of insects do sneak in to take advantage of gardeners’ hard work. They chew up plants and eat through produce, leaving you with no way of regaining the lost crops during the season. Some of the more common pests gardeners have to deal with in vegetable and ornamental gardens include:
- Beetles and other bugs
Your variety of pests will vary depending on location, so check out some local publications to see which pests you should prepare against every season. Pests also target certain plants, so find out which pests are most likely to go after your plants to create a comprehensive and custom pest prevention plan.
Methods for Preventing Pests
While there are chemicals on the market that can effectively eradicate insects and deter animals from destroying your garden, many gardeners prefer to find natural alternatives to keep their yards and gardens free of pests. Here are some of our favorite techniques for keeping your garden pest free:
Plant natural pest deterrents. There are several plants you can add to your collection that will naturally deter pests from flocking to your space. Many herbs are successful deterrents to various insect species, including basil, chamomile, catnip, dill, rosemary, mint, and fennel. Lavender, geraniums, chrysanthemums, marigold, and petunias are all beautiful flowering plants you can add to your garden to deter pests and keep your garden looking bright. If you are concerned about a particular insect, look up the plants that will effectively deter it, and add it near the plants being targeted.
Use coffee grounds. In addition to being a wonderful fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, coffee grounds also keep bugs away. Many animals and insects dislike coffee and will go elsewhere if they catch wind of it. Take your cooled coffee grounds out and sprinkle around acid-loving plants and enjoy a pest free experience. If you hate coffee, ask a friend or local coffee shop if you can have some of the leftovers. Most coffee shops, including Starbucks, will happily oblige.
- Grab something from the pantry. Spicy peppers, garlic, and other natural substances are insect repellents. Try a dish soap solution heavily diluted with water to deter aphids from your plants, sprinkle cayenne in the dirt, and crush eggshells around plants to fertilize and deter animals like deer from turning your plants into a snack. Eggshells also deter slugs. If worms are terrorizing your cabbage plants, sprinkle some self-rising flower on the leaves. The worms will pop open when the sun comes out and the flour starts to expand.
- Fence it off. You can prevent many animal pests by fencing in your garden. Remember to extend the fencing into the ground to deter rabbits. You can also try netting plants that are commonly targeted to discourage feeding habits. Just check regularly for snakes that accidentally become caught in the web. Netting can also prevent birds from targeting your fruit trees.
- Try a scarecrow sprinkler. A motion-sensor sprinkler can startle animals away from your garden. As soon as they get within range of the sensor, they get a quick blast from the sprinkler hose. Catch it in action for a good laugh.
- Encourage garden-friendly insects and animals. Snakes, lizards, ladybugs, wasps and a few other critters can help you with your pest problem. Wasps and ladybugs eat aphids, while snakes, lizards, and toads target slugs. Check out the garden friendly animals and insects in your area to find the best way to rid your garden of unwanted pests.
- Tend your garden regularly. A healthy, vibrant garden will not fall prey to pests as easily. Get rid of dead and diseased leaves, water and fertilize regularly, and make sure the soil is healthy and not decaying. Weed regularly to decrease the area where pests may try to hide.
- Try a natural spray solution. For insects and some funguses, you can add a tablespoon of regular cooking oil to a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and a couple of drops of dish soap to a quart of water. Spray on the affected plants every couple of days.
- Lure slugs and snails with traps. Either go out early in the morning and hand pick the destructive creatures off your plants or set a trap. A saucer of beer will do the trick. They will crawl into the saucer and be unable to get back out. Salt will kill them on contact, while a copper wire barrier will prevent them from crossing into your garden in the first place.
- Clean up the area. Late in the season, when yellow jackets swarm, avoid their painful stings by keeping compost, trash, rotting fruits and vegetables, and other attractors sealed in containers to keep the yellow jackets away. Yellow jacket stings can sometimes cause blood poisoning, so watch for the warning red streak moving up your body if you are stung.
There are inevitably good and bad years for garden pests. The best way to approach the problem is with a proactive solution. Prepare your garden well with some of these great fertilizing and natural pest prevention techniques, and keep an eye out for any new problems that may arise.
There is a natural solution for most of the garden pest problems you encounter, keeping your garden healthy and safe for the season. If the insect problem you face isn’t addressed here, try a simple online search to learn more about your particular situation. The Farmer’s Almanac site is always a great resource, but there are also several blogs and gardening sites with articles targeted at specific pest problems.
By Joanne M. Anderson
Photographer Soorelis offered the photograph of Snail in Nature under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer Tabble offered the photograph of Meadow Mole under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer Hans Braxmeier offered the photograph of Black Aphid under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer Ben Frewin offered the photograph of Small Mouse under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer Efraimstochter offered the photograph of Pet Hare under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay