Having a home garden takes hard work and dedication. You have to plan out which plants and vegetables you want to grow, make sure your soil is compatible and then nurture your plants as they grow. The end result can be very rewarding, but this feeling of accomplishment can be dashed when you start to notice tiny pests feeding on your plants and destroying the garden you so carefully put together. How do you protect your plants without using chemicals? If you want to practice natural garden pest control, you have many options.
Natural Garden Pest Control
Depending on the type of pest you’re dealing with, there are different ways to correct your problem. From mosquito repellent plants to homemade pesticides to adding beneficial bugs to get the job done for you, home gardeners have many tools at their disposal.
Mosquito Repellent Plants
If you live in a place where the climate stays warm for most of the year, mosquito season can last virtually all year long. Although mosquitoes don’t pose any direct threat to your garden, they are arguably the most annoying pests because they bite, leaving red, itchy welts on your skin. The good news is that there are plants you can add to your garden to keep the mosquitoes away.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Does lemongrass repel mosquitoes? Yes! Citronella (also known as lemongrass) is a lemon-scented grass that does best in large planters and is an active ingredient in some natural mosquito repellents. Keep in mind that these plants can’t withstand a frost, so they are best suited for warmer climates or for containers that can be brought inside.
Lavender (Lavandula spica)
Lavender is a drought-resistant plant that has a beautiful fragrance. Its essential oils keep the mosquitoes away while adding a purple pop of color to your garden’s natural beauty.
Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Marigolds are a beautiful addition to any garden and are easy to grow. They are golden-colored annual flowers that can be added to the borders of vegetable gardens or kept in pots near your entry ways to deter mosquitoes with their smell.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil is a common household herb used for cooking that also makes an excellent mosquito repellent and even doubles as a fly repellent. This plant requires good drainage and lots of sunlight.
Homemade Pest Control Solutions
You may not want to use chemicals to treat pests in your yard or garden. You can make your own homemade bug spray for vegetable plants using some items you can find around your house.
Soap spray insecticide is best for ridding your garden of beetles, mites, aphids and any other plant-damaging pests. To make it, mix 1 ½ teaspoons of a mild liquid soap with a quart of water, pour the liquid into a spray bottle and spray the solution directly on affected plants.
Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. This powder can be sprinkled directly onto plants and around the edges of your garden bed to protect against earwigs, slugs and other pests.
Neem oil spray is a powerful natural insecticide that can eliminate pests at any stage in their life cycle including eggs and larvae. The great thing is that neem oil is biodegradable and safe for your pets.
Another way to control lawn pests is to introduce beneficial bugs. You may be thinking to yourself, “I want to get rid of pests not add more!” That’s completely understandable, but keep in mind that not all bugs are bad. In fact, many bugs can be beneficial to your garden and help you get rid of the pests that are ruining your plants and vegetables. Here are a few:
These tiny, red beetles have small black spots on their wings and help consume aphids, mealybugs and other pests that damage your garden. They also lay their eggs among the aphids so that newborn larvae can feed on these pests.
Green Lacewings (Chrysoperla)
Adult lacewings are pale green, about one-inch long with four wings and shiny, golden eyes. In the larval stage, lacewings feed on small insects and insect eggs, but as adults, they only feed on nectar.
Predatory Stinkbugs (Linnaeus)
This species is easily distinguishable from other stink bugs by the large red spots on their black bodies. Predatory stink bugs measure anywhere from 12-17 millimeters in length, with the females being larger than the males. These stinkbugs prey on plant-damaging bugs; they feed on more than 100 species of insects and will attack pests bigger than themselves by sucking the body fluids of their prey with a needle-like beak.
Dragonflies come in many sizes and can grow up to four inches in length. They are large, heavy-bodied insects that prey on midges, mosquitoes, moths and other flying insects that may invade your garden. Sometimes they even eat spiders! The larvae, or nymphs, live in water and can catch and eat small fish such as bloodworms. Most dragonflies live about six months, but in some cases, larger dragonflies live up to six or seven years. They do not bite and can even be held in your hand.
ABC Can Help With Your Outdoor Pests
We understand the hard work and dedication that goes into your yard and the frustration that comes when pests undermine your efforts. If the do-it-yourself approach doesn’t work, it’s time to call in the experts. Call ABC Home & Commercial Services to let our professionals get rid of your lawn and garden pests, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.