10 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Pests in Your Garden Explained

natural ways to get rid of pests in your garden

Natural pest control for a garden is about managing and preventing pest problems using environmentally friendly methods that work in harmony with nature, rather than relying on synthetic chemicals. This approach focuses on creating a balanced ecosystem within the garden that naturally deters pests or keeps their populations in check.

The core principles of natural pest control include attracting beneficial predatory insects, using companion planting techniques, applying organic substances like diatomaceous earth and essential oils, and implementing cultural practices such as crop rotation and proper sanitation. It also involves using physical barriers, traps, and sacrificial crops to protect main plants.

Key Takeaways

  • Attract beneficial predatory insects like ladybugs, praying mantises, parasitic wasps, and ground beetles by planting specific flowers and shrubs
  • Use companion plants such as garlic, basil, marigolds, and lemongrass to deter pests
  • Apply food-grade diatomaceous earth to control aphids, ants, mites, slugs, and other pests
  • Utilize essential oils like orange, lemongrass, cedarwood, neem, thyme, clove, rosemary, and lavender as natural insecticides
  • Try organic pesticides like spinosad and Bacillus Thuringiensis for specific pest control
  • Make homemade insecticidal soap using organic vegetable oil and natural soap
  • Plant sacrificial crops to protect main crops while attracting beneficial insects
  • Use insect traps to monitor and control pest populations
  • Keep wildlife out using dried blood meal, surveyor tape, red pepper flake, citrus peels, thorny plants, essential oils, predator urine, and ultrasonic repellents
  • Implement practices like crop rotation, intercropping, mulching, compost tea, and botanical insecticides for a healthy, pest-resistant garden

1. ATTRACT SOME PREDATORS OF INSECTS

Several different flowering plants are a great pest deterrent, nice to look at, and make a nice garden border.

Adding bird feeders in and around your garden will attract birds and in turn, they will also eat any bugs that they see in your garden.

There are several common beneficial insects that you want in your garden that will eat other insects as well as their larvae, such as ladybugs, praying mantises, ground beetles, parasitic wasps, and some flies.

Knowing how to attract these biological controls is much better than the next option.

Buying some carnivorous insects can help to deal with any large infestation of pests, but that can take some time, and hopefully, they will make the journey through the shipping process.

Attracting the right kind of insects can be the difference between a thriving healthy garden and a successful bug buffet.

Planting a variety of different plants will help to attract the right number of different predators to your garden.

Praying mantis is a great predator to have in any garden but they are attracted by woody evergreen shrubs.

This is because they only live for one year and prefer to lay their eggs in shrubs. Only one or two shrubs will be needed around a food garden.

To attract small parasitic wasps and flies, plants in the carrot family are known for this.

  • Caraway
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Bishop’s Flower
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Toothpick Ammi

To attract ladybugs and soldier beetles, plants in the aster family are known for this.

  • Blanketflower
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Cosmos
  • Golden Marguerite
  • Goldenrod
  • Signet Marigold
  • Sunflower
  • Tansy
  • Yarrow

2. USING COMPANION PLANTS TO DETER GARDEN PESTS

Companion plants should be planted both in your garden as well as a border around your garden for best results.

Many different herbs and plants can be used as a pest deterrent in your garden, consider using garlic.

This aromatic onion relative is an effective deterrent against aphids that feed on lettuce and leafy greens.

Basil is known to attract beneficial insects while repelling pests like white flies, aphids, and cucumber beetles.

Other herbs such as cilantro, sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, and lemongrass, but we suggest using lemongrass as a border because they can grow quite large and repel insects.

Marigolds are an excellent plant to use as a border because they produce no food, they have nice blooms that attract pollinators, and they deter some pests such as nematodes while attracting beneficial insects such as ladybugs who eat aphids.

3. DIATOMACEOUS EARTH TO NATURALLY DEAL WITH GARDEN BUGS

Diatomaceous earth is a powder that is a natural mineral-based insecticide that comes from fossilized aquatic plants and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Only food-grade diatomaceous earth should be used in a food garden, and it can be purchased at local garden centers, home improvement stores, and online retailers.

The best time to apply it is after a light rain or in the early morning when there is still dew on the ground. If you want, you can also lightly water the ground before use.

Make sure not to apply it before a rain because you don’t want it to get washed away, if this happens then it needs to be reapplied.

If needed, you can also mix 2 cups of diatomaceous earth per gallon of water and spray the solution on any effect areas. This is helpful for larger areas of treatment.

When applying to small areas, sprinkle a few tablespoons over the affected area and let it dry.

Follow this procedure every week for effective pest control and repeat this treatment as necessary if the issue persists.

If the pest infestation is not visible, you can apply it directly to the soil when it is dry so it can get in the cracks and crevices.

It is highly recommended to wear a mask when applying the powder because the dust can irritate the mucous membranes.

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH FOR PEST CONTROL

4. ESSENTIAL OILS ARE GREAT NATURAL REMEDIES AGAINST BUGS

Some essential oils are toxic or stinky to insects, so they’re effective repellents or biopesticides, such as orange, lemongrass, and cedarwood are all highly effective.

Tea tree oil, for example, destroys insect exoskeletons. Cedarwood interferes with insects’ neurological functions and works well against aphids and slugs.

Neem oil acts as an effective insecticide and repels more than 200 types of garden-destroying insects. It is also an anti-fungal and supports the soil.

Thyme oil is particularly effective against spider mites and beetles. It interferes with the pest hormones and deters females from laying their eggs.

Clove oil works as a fungus preventative because it contains eugenol, which causes the cells of some fungus species to break down.

Rosemary repels aphids, flea beetles, cabbage butterflies, and more. You can also spray rosemary oil on your pots to discourage pests from attacking your plants. Its fragrance is also a natural butterfly attractant.

Lavender is well-known for repelling mosquitoes and cabbage loopers, but the scent of lavender will also attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Orange is good for repelling aphids, beetles, squash bugs, and ants while attracting pollinators.

Using 15 – 20 drops per oil in a spray bottle and mixing it with water is a great natural insecticide. Just remember to shake the bottle before every use.

ESSENTIAL OILS THAT REPEL GARDEN PEST

  • Peppermint – aphids, beetles, slugs, cutworms, ants squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and moles
  • Cinnamon – snails, ants, and kills fungus
  • Cedarwood – slugs and snails
  • Eucalyptus – Mosquitos

5. SPINOSAD

Spinosad is a natural insecticidal spray that is fermented from a soil bacterium and is toxic to insects such as spider mites, leaf miners, and thrips to name a few.

You can find it in 80 different pesticides because of its effectiveness and it can be found in sprays, pellets, granules, and dust.

This pesticide should not be used on plants with butterflies and bees coming to it.

6. BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS

Bacillus Thuringiensis is a soil bacterium with varying species that are known to treat aphids, fungus gnats, cutworms, cabbage worms, caterpillars, and more.

It can be easily found in liquid and granule form, but this pesticide should not be used on plants with butterflies and bees coming to it.

7. INSECTICIDAL SOAP

Insecticidal soap is an easy-to-make organic pesticide remedy that can be formulated with a few household ingredients.

One recipe calls for one cup of organic vegetable oil, a tablespoon of organic soap, and a tablespoon of dishwashing soap.

Be sure to use a natural soap that does not contain bleach or degreasers.

You can also use castile soap, which contains a milder formula that is safer for your plants.

Depending on how many plants you want to spray, one quart should be enough.

Insecticidal soap is formulated for a short-lived residual action. This means that insects must contact the soap for it to be effective.

Repeat applications may be needed every 4 to 7 days and excessive soap application may cause leaf damage.

Insecticidal soap is formulated to kill a variety of insects, including aphids and other soft-bodied pests.

8. PLANTING A SACRIFICIAL CROP

Planting sacrificial crops or trap crops like sunflowers or nettles will protect your vegetables from cabbage white caterpillars but they will bring in aphids.

Nasturtiums are known to bring in aphids and whiteflies, chervil will bring in slugs, and radishes will bring in flea beetles and root flies.

These crops should be mixed with crops that will bring in beneficial predatory insects to not create a breeding ground for the wrong type of insect.

Lady bugs or lady beetles are attracted to beans, cilantro, caraway, coriander, chives, dandelions, dill, fennel, and garlic.

9. INSECT TRAPS

Insect traps are disposable cardboard squares that have glue on the top side that is strong enough to hold any insect that gets on it.

These traps are indiscriminate and will also trap beneficial insects, but they can also be a good way to monitor the insects that are in your garden.

These traps can be purchased at any garden center, home improvement store, or online retailer.

10. KEEPING THE WILDLIFE OUT

Keeping animals out of your garden may be as difficult if not more difficult than insects, but there are ways.

Sometimes erecting a simple fence is all that is needed, but other times it needs to be done.

DEER

To keep deer out of your garden, sprinkle dried blood meal as a border around your garden and you can also sprinkle it between your rows.

This will also help to keep out rabbits and groundhogs.

This will need to be reapplied every 7 to 10 days for best results.

MOOSE

Surveyors tape is a bright orange color, and it has been shown to keep moose out by using stakes around your garden and wrapping the Surveyors tape around them.

WILDLIFE IN GENERAL

Red pepper flake is something that most critters don’t like and spreading it around your garden as a border will help.

The smell of different citrus fruits is a nasty smell to many different animals, therefore using the peels of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit can be a good barrier around your garden.

Using plants with thorns and other irritating hairs like nettle will keep out hungry critters.

Black raspberries and blackberries are a good choice for protecting your plants from critters because of the thorns on the vines, they make a nice border around your garden and produce food.

You can also use essential oils and reapply every 3 to 4 days and after every time it rains.

Another method is the use of urine from predators like coyotes, which can be purchased at garden centers and online.

An ultrasonic pest repellent is also effective against deer, skunks, raccoons, and other animals.

Practices like crop rotation, intercropping, mulching, and using compost tea can also help promote a healthy, pest-resistant garden environment.

Botanical insecticides like pyrethrin, neem oil/cake, and garlic sprays are other natural options. Insecticidal fungi like Beauveria bassiana and pheromone traps could be explored too.

Another option is an ultrasonic pest repellent, which is effective against deer, skunks, raccoons, and other animals.


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Source: Natural Pest and Disease Management – Gardening Solutions (ufl.edu)

Joel Simon

As a kid, Joel found enjoyment in caring for the many houseplants he grew up with, learning how to transplant them safely, cloning them, and more. At about the age of 10, he wanted to see if he could sprout an orange seed from a store-bought orange and ended up using it as a science experiment in a school project. Throughout the many years of gardening, he has helped many friends and family set up their food and botanical gardens. After years of caring for plants, he was talking with other gardeners and discovering old methods of farming and botanical gardening. Joel has decided to share his knowledge for others to enjoy as he has for many years.

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