How to Prevent Common Garden Pests

Raised garden bed in a backyard

Planting a garden can be a very therapeutic experience. Getting outdoors, enjoying the sun, feeling the soil and planting life to watch grow and thrive is such a delightful hobby for many people. However, it can also be incredibly frustrating, thanks to common garden pests. There’s such a feeling of defeat when you’ve spent so much time planning out and planting the perfect garden only to have it destroyed by common garden pests. But Improvements is ready to help you prevent the destruction of your garden with a few pest control tips.

Combatting Against Common Garden Pests

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Bugs, rodents, rabbits , and deer, oh my! All of these are very common garden pests throughout all of North America. But there are ways you can prevent them from having a field day and ruining your garden. Consider the following tips to keep your plants free of common garden pests whether you have a problem with animals or insects.

Getting Bugs to Bug Off

Tell bugs to bug off infograhic: mosquitoes, rosemary, flies and moths, lavender. aphids, fennel or allums, ants and beetles, chrysanthemums

Insects are a fact of life, especially if you are a gardener. Some are highly beneficial to your garden while others are a total nightmare! Figuring out how to keep the bugs that bug you away can be difficult. Here are a few insect control ideas to try in your garden this spring.

Plant plants that keep the bugs away. Lavender naturally repels moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. Plant in the sunny areas of your garden to keep it pest-free. Rosemary is a great addition to your garden because it repels mosquitoes and a variety of insects that feed on vegetable plants.

Oregano repels many common garden pests and provides ground cover for your garden, which peppers love. Fennel and alliums repel aphids (which munch on nearly everything!), slugs and snails. Alliums can actually benefit many plants, including roses, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and carrots. Chrysanthemums deter roaches, ants, beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, and more. Planting these is highly recommended as an insect repellent in your garden.

Get bugs to bug off with a soapy mixture. Put 1 teaspoon of dish soap into a one-quart spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Shake lightly and mist onto plants. Make sure to spray the underside of leaves and the stems, where bugs often hang out. Soap dissolves the outer shell of many insects, eventually killing them. Soap takes care of insects without damaging plants or vegetables.

Spice up your garden to deter insects. Bugs don’t like garlic, hot peppers, Epsom salt or coffee grounds. These are all very good bug repellents. Garlic is an extremely potent pesticide. It will, however, kill off all bugs, including the beneficial ones, so try to use it sparingly. It can also affect the flavor of foods so avoid using during harvesting. To create a garlic spray, peel and crush five garlic cloves, mix with a pint of water and let sit for 6 hours. Add a drop of natural dish soap then dilute with a gallon of water. Strain into a spray bottle and mist onto plants once or twice a week.

Hot pepper works in much the same way as garlic. To prepare a pepper pesticide, start by wearing gloves! Then add two cups of chopped habanero peppers into a food processor with a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Puree then add mixture to four gallons of water. Let the mixture sit for up to 24 hours then strain. Add three tablespoons of dish soap and pour into spray bottle. Eye protection is recommended in case of splashing. Apply to plants twice a week. Be very careful if using when windy. You do not want this mixture spraying back into your face. It will kill off and prevent bugs from feasting on your plants.

Mix coffee grounds into your soil or spread over the top of fresh soil to deter slugs, cats, and even deer. Plus, it adds nitrogen to the soil, which is great for plants! If you aren’t a coffee drinker, Epsom salt works much the same way. Sprinkle it around the base of your plants to deter insects. Additionally, it increases nutrition absorption in plant roots so it’s a win-win.

Oh Dear! No More Deer

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Deer are quite majestic creatures, but they can really wreak havoc on one’s garden. If you’ve experienced unwanted deer in your garden or yard, it may be hard for you to appreciate their beauty. But if you prevent them from eating your plants and crops, then deer may recapture your heart. You can do your part to keep deer away by planting plants they don’t care for, using deterrents or repellents, or by putting up obstacles that they can’t get past.

Grow plants that deer dislike. Given the opportunity, deer will eat almost anything. But there are things you can plant to help deter them. Ornamental grasses, marigolds, foxgloves, and plants and herbs with strong smells, like chives, sage and lemon balm, keep deer away. They also tend to avoid plants with thorns, such as purple coneflower. Roses, however, seem to be an exception to this rule.

Use natural deer deterrents. Interestingly, human hair seems to repel deer. If you don’t feel like shaving your head, ask a local barber or hairdresser if you can have their trimmings. Spread the hair throughout your flower garden and the scent of multiple humans should keep the deer away. To use this trick in your vegetable garden, put the hair in a stocking or sock and hang or line your vegetable rows. You don’t want to use loose hair because it can grow into vegetables.

Other natural deer deterrents include spraying hot pepper juice on plants, sprinkling garlic onto your plants, or spreading some soap flakes on the perimeter of your garden. Generally, it seems to all come back to smelly things that deer don’t like. And that brings us to urine. Use the urine of deer predators is a time-honored technique at repelling deer. This is actually often the main ingredient in store-bought deer repellents. But you can also purchase it in its true form from hunting supply shops. Deer avoid this smell because they don’t want to get eaten. Therefore, dogs are another great way to keep deer out of your yard. Adopt a new best friend and let that dog keep the deer away. Even a bark from a window or open door will do the trick; the dog does not need to be left in the yard.

Block out deer with barriers. Line your yard with thick hedges like boxwoods or short-needle spruces. The deer can’t easily get through them nor can they see the tasty treats that are planted beyond them. Therefore, they aren’t enticed to jump over them or work their way through the foliage. Fences are great too but they have to be high. A deer can easily jump a 6-foot fence. If you don’t want to close off your yard with an 8-foot privacy fence, consider a fishing line fence just around your garden. Plant wooden posts every few feet around and line in between with fish wire. It is nearly invisible so deer can’t figure out what is preventing them from getting in so they can’t figure out to jump it either.

Keep Rodents and Rabbits Away

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Small animals, including mice, squirrels, moles, and rabbits, can ruin your garden and, even more concerning, leave pathogens behind. Keep these common garden pests away from your plants with these simple tricks.

Clean up. Rodent infestations signal poor sanitation. If you have a compost pile, keep it properly maintained. Don’t allow overgrowth of plants. Keep them well-pruned to maintain a healthy garden and one less attractive to rodents.

Use barriers to keep small animals out. Mesh fencing or chicken wire is your best bet. Stake in fence posts and stop or tie mesh fencing or chicken wire around them. It may not be the most attractive option but it generally works if used correctly. Make sure it’s high enough so animals can’t jump over it, and stake it into the ground so animals can’t crawl under it.

Repel small animals with unpleasant odors. Strong-smelling soap or cheap perfume works wonders. Put bars of stinky soap on stakes and insert into your garden to keep animals out. Mothballs scattered throughout the garden will work as well. These are, however, toxic to dogs so take precaution if your dog or cat likes to peruse your garden for a midday snack. Another strong smell (to animals), but one that is off-putting for some, is blood meal. Blood meal is a byproduct of meat-packing plants. It’s basically dried and flaked blood ground into a powder. Spread liberally on your soil to scare rodents, rabbits and other animals away. Along these same lines, predator urine works for small animals much like it does for deer. Fox and coyote urine are great options.

If you’re having trouble with underground critters, see our blog, How to Get Rid of Moles Using Home Remedies, for more information.

Can You Stop the Invasion of Common Garden Pests?

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Hopefully, with these easy tips, your garden will thrive and produce nutritious snacks and fragrant flowers all season long. Remember, these are just a few tricks so don’t get frustrated if you still have problems with common garden pests. Speak to a local gardening expert to help you figure out what works best for the type of climate or environment in which your garden is located. If you have any tips we missed, please share in the comments.

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    Posted in DIY Projects, Home Gardening Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Posted by: Amandah Blackwell
    One comment on “How to Prevent Common Garden Pests
    1. Alice Lucan says:

      Amusing pictures come to mind, as I imagine collecting the urine of deer predators. Easier to get a dog (or two). They bring benefits other than keeping off deer. Amusement, love, play and warning off bad guys.

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