Your garden is personal. It’s an accumulation of hard work and daily effort to coax the contents of small, hard seeds into nutritious produce or vibrant flowers that almost sing with life. Despite your best efforts, you will, at some point, experience the effects of pests that threaten to undermine your months of hard work.
You don’t have to run to the nearest drug store or call an exterminator to deal with common garden pests. Most of the tools you need are already in your kitchen or easily accessible from a convenience store. With a bit of ingenuity and a combination of materials, you’ll have a set of organic tools that effectively and safely eliminate pests.
Not only do all-natural ingredients work, but they’re also better for the environment. They won’t harm pets or young children and won’t contaminate your property’s soil or water resources. If you’re looking for a natural and effective solution to garden pests, we’re covering it all in this guide to help you get rid of harmful critters.
The Benefits of a Healthy Garden
For thousands of years, human beings have used the land near their dwellings to grow crops that have helped sustain entire tribes and clans. Depending on where you live, the purpose and produce of your garden differ. Regardless, gardening has a series of benefits that stay consistent despite the different ways people use their gardens.
Good for Physical Health
Gardens are perfect for managing health and getting exercise, especially for older property owners. Gardening is a strenuous activity and gives you a full-body workout. Gardens need weeding, watering, and tending, and the constant need to move between plants helps you burn calories and stay fit.
Good for Psychological Health
Are you suffering from depression, stress, or anxiety? Try gardening. Research repeatedly shows that gardening has a calming effect, helping people reduce tension. Whether you use it for a meditative purpose or as a brief escape from the chaos of the world, gardening is a fantastic way to stay happy and busy.
Balances the Environment
Having a garden in a residential area helps keep a balance between concrete and natural elements. Trees, lawns, grass, and non-invasive plants keep the environment around residential areas comfortable, reducing heat and providing protection from the elements. Gardens even help control noise levels and decrease sounds by up to 30%.
Having a lush garden or lawn surrounding your home cuts down on cooling costs because it causes a drop in temperature around concrete. Additionally, families can reduce their grocery bills by planting produce at home. Finally, gardens do their part to decrease runoff, which is damaging to bodies of water that contain wildlife.
Identify Your Garden Allies
Your garden is an ecosystem of life. Many critters that live both inside and outside of its soil have an impact on land health. They perform essential functions like speeding down the process of decomposition, pollinating plants, and preying on pests.
Here’s a list of the creatures that you should keep in your garden that positively contribute to its health:
- Ground beetles
- Green lacewings
- Praying mantises
- Syrphids and robber flies
Before taking action on garden pests, make sure that the beneficial insects and creatures living in your garden don’t suffer. Harming them can affect your plants’ growth rate and health, so striking the right balance is the key to a successful strategy.
Target the Enemy
Not all pests are insects—rodents and other creatures can also wreak havoc on your plants and cause them to struggle. Add to the mix the fact that some pests aren’t visible, and you have several scenarios where your garden’s health can nosedive without warning.
To keep your plants healthy and avoid overdoing it, try to understand what’s causing your garden to suffer. It helps to know what signs to look for and then research the specific symptoms you see manifesting in your garden. Some signs that indicate that your garden needs a checkup and possibly, a pest-control solution, include:
- Large and medium-sized holes: Look for spots that dot your plant’s leaves, especially towards their center.
- Live snails or their shells: If you see a trail of slime on your plant, that means snails and slugs are eating the leaves.
- Eggs: The presence of insect eggs on leaves means dealing with hatchlings that will later feed on them.
- Dark green droppings on leaves: These droppings are signs of a cabbage worm infestation.
- Discoloration, wilting, curling, and leaf fall: These signs may indicate problems with the soil.
- Brown droppings on the surrounding ground: Brown droppings are the most common sign of a rodent infestation.
If you notice any of these signs, they are easily resolvable in most cases with DIY remedies.
Signs Your Garden is Unhealthy
Your garden is alive, and just as humans show signs of wear and tear when they are sick, so too do the plants and flowers that live in your garden. If one or two plants start to show signs of wear, you can catch the issue before it becomes a significant problem. In some cases, your garden receives a blow to its health without warning, and you only realize it after seeing the aftermath of the damage.
If you notice any changes in the health of your garden, you must determine whether the issue is resolvable through personal efforts or if you need the services of a professional. Although you may take precautions and use the remedies in this guide, you may need a pest-control or landscaping company.
When noticing one of the below signs, make sure that you catch the issue in time before you need the services of an exterminator.
Stunted growth is usually the first sign that something is amiss. When your produce and plants aren’t growing the way they should, it may indicate a problem in the soil or a pest infestation.
Holes that look like lace are never a good sign on your plants, and they have different causes. The numerous explanations for gaps on your leaves make it more challenging to identify what is wrong. In general, holes consistent throughout your garden indicate the work of a pest or something amiss in your soil.
When you see swarms of insects in your yard, the situation requires immediate attention. It would be best if you tried to identify what insect types are in your yard so that you can find the best solution to target them effectively.
Clipping and Gnawing
Look at the ends of your bushes or even tree branches on the ground. If you notice signs of gnawing and clipping, that means you have a pest of the four-legged variety. Pests like raccoons, deer, or even stray dogs and cats may be finding their way into your garden and destroying it.
Why Organic is Best
From the chemicals we use to clean our homes to those we use to combat pests, going green is the only responsible route to take. The ecosystem is increasingly suffering from the effects of our carbon footprint, especially the toxic materials that we introduce into our water and soil supplies for the sake of efficiency.
We have a responsibility to preserve the environment. Every action we take to decrease our negative impact makes a difference in the long run. One way to promote the health of the land is to use organic pest removal methods in our landscaping that won’t harm the soil and other living organisms.
While toxic chemicals may be temporarily useful, they create numerous problems later on that may affect your family’s health. Examples include toxins seeping into water pipes and lakes, impacting people, plants, and wildlife.
Organic pest control guidelines include:
- Don’t harm the soil
- Don’t adversely impact your health
- Don’t affect water quality
- Don’t let chemicals seep into water tanks
- Make sure all substances are safe if ingested accidentally
- Use only biodegradable products
- Incorporate natural solutions
Organic Pest Control Recipies and Remedies
The most common ingredients that people use for organic pest control come from natural sources. They are not harsh on your plants and won’t harm you even if a little gets into your eyes or contacts your skin. Depending on the type of pest you’re dealing with, you can opt for sprays, soaps, or organic soil additives that improve the health of your garden.
Vegetable Oil and Soap
This spray creates a thick coating that is gentle enough to use on plants but eliminates common garden pests.
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp soap,
- 1 quart of water
Method: Mix the vegetable oil and soap mixture well, and add them to the quart of water. Fill the liquid into a spray bottle and use it to suffocate common pests like aphids and mites.
Peppermint Oil and Mint Spray
This refreshing minty spray not only helps you control your ant and termite populations but smells great and adds a fresh scent to your garden.
- Spray bottle
- 5–10 drops of peppermint oil
- A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- Water depending on the capacity of your spray bottle
Mix 5-10 drops of essential oil into every ounce of water and heat until boiling. Keep mint leaves aside. After the mixture cools, fill into an empty spray bottle and add the chopped mint leaves.
Tomato Leaf Spray
Tomato leaves act as a strong repellant for common pests due to the presence of alkaloids.
- Spray bottle
- Two cups of fresh tomato leaves, chopped
- One quart of water
Method: Add the chopped tomato leaves to the water and mix well. Cover the bowl and allow the mixture to steep overnight. After the mixture is ready, strain the liquid and throw the leaves away. Use the liquid as a spray.
Vegetable Oil and Baking Soda Spray
Baking soda adds an extra layer of defense against common pests but won’t harm your plants or soil.
- Spray bottle
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 Tsp dish soap
- 2 quarts of water
Method: Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add the liquid to the spray bottle and use it immediately for the best effect.
Vegetable Oil and Garlic Spray
More than just a vampire repellant, garlic does wonders for all types of common household problems, and one of them is taking care of your garden.
Ingredients / Equipment
- Spray bottle
- Overnight bowl
- 1 Tbsp dish soap set aside
- One large head of garlic
- 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil
- 2 cups of water
Method: Peel the garlic and puree it. Add the water and vegetable oil to a bowl and mix the garlic puree into the bowl. Cover and allow it to sit overnight. The next day, strain the mixture and add to the spray bottle. Add the tablespoon of dish soap to the mix and use.
This spray packs a potent punch and does more than eliminate insects. Chili is an effective rodent repellant and rids you of larger pests in your garden. Be careful, however, as this spray irritates your eyes and skin on contact. We recommend wearing goggles and gloves when mixing and spraying this mixture.
- Spray bottle
- Half cup of the hottest chili peppers available at your local grocer
- 2 Tbsp liquid soap
- 2 cups of water
Method: Use a blender and the water and peppers, blending well. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and allow to steep overnight. The next day, strain the peppers from the water and pour it into the bottle. Add the liquid soap and mix.
This spray may smell like salad dressing, but it does a spectacular job of ridding you of common garden pests.
- Spray bottle
- One head of garlic
- One small onion
- 2 Tbsp powdered cayenne pepper
- ½ cup of chili peppers
- 2 cups of water
Peel and puree the garlic and onion and mix it with the cayenne and water. Allow the ingredients to steep for a few hours and strain. Add the remaining liquid into a spray bottle and use directly on plant leaves.
Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is a miracle compound that has a series of benefits for both physical and environmental ailments. The oil comes from the Neem tree’s leaves and has a powerful effect on insects no matter what stage of growth they are.
- 2 Tbsp Neem oil
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Tsp Dish soap
Method: Mix the ingredients and place them in a spray bottle.
Sometimes, the issue doesn’t lie in the insects that eat your plants but in issues that affect your soil. Diatomaceous soil is a natural substance that acts as an insecticide, absorbing lipids and possessing an abrasive nature. You can find it in stores that sell gardening items. It is a non-toxic solution to common soil issues in gardens.
Bright and beautiful marigolds serve more than just an aesthetic purpose. The reason why you find marigolds all over lawns and gardens is that they repel some common pests, especially types of roundworms that kill your plants over time.
Although it might sound like a strange idea, copper wiring in your garden helps you get rid of a common pest–snails and slugs. These critters hate copper because it causes unpleasant electric sensations on their bodies when they come into contact with it. Its use can help control the number of slugs and snails in your garden.
Common Organic Pest Control Myths
Although people exchange plenty of practical recipes and methods to solve their pest woes, some are not accurate. Below are some common-yet-ineffective myths with no scientific backing that don’t do much of anything to prevent pests.
Chemical insecticides are more effective than organic ones
Yes, chemical insecticides kill common garden pests. They also affect the vast majority of other insects and animals that live in your garden. These chemicals also cause severe damage to the soil and infect it with toxins.
Placing beer dishes around the garden attracts and kills garden slugs
Beer neither attracts slugs, nor will it get rid of your snail problems. A better alternative to beer is oil, which effectively traps the snails.
Tying a bar of Irish Spring soap repels raccoons and deer
A bar of soap will not repel deer, raccoons, or any animal from entering your garden. Why this specific brand, we aren’t sure, but the result remains the same. You are more likely to prevent these animals from getting into your garden by installing fencing.
The Wrap Up
Gardens make great additions to your home and have numerous benefits that keep you happy and healthy. Although they are susceptible to infestation, using organic pest control improves the health of gardens and keeps common insects and animals from nibbling on your plants and produce.