You’ve planned and planted your garden, and await the bounty that arrives in the next few months. Each day you may check on your plantings’ progress, but may be dismayed to see that someone, or rather, something, has had a nibble or two on tender leaves. Sometimes garden pests may even put the plant’s health in jeopardy, or an animal may get to flowers or tender fruits and vegetables before you do.
What to do? Spraying toxic pesticides has a host of downsides, including runoff into local streams and groundwater, and if you have kids or pets, you don’t want them (or yourself) exposed to chemicals.
Luckily, there are ways to use other plants and other natural elements that naturally repel pests and even attract bugs like bees and ladybugs that are beneficial to your garden. Enjoy trying out some of these ideas, some of which have been around 10,000 years or more. And remember, everyone’s garden is different, since soil, moisture, nutrients and such vary; so what works in your friend’s garden across the country may not work exactly the same way in yours. Give one of these time tested ideas a try.
1. Companion Planting
Possibly the most natural way to deter pests, you can place some plants that repel pests next to the plantings you want to protect. Plant something that will attract the good bugs like a small plot of flowers that attract beneficial insects that will then feed on the pests in your garden.
Probably the most well known flower that can repel insects, you must use scented marigolds to work against harmful insects, but be aware that they also attract spider mites and snails. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds keep rabbits and a number of destructive bugs at bay.
Another “workhorse” flower, petunias repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, many varieties of aphids, tomato worm and other pests.
You can use sunflowers to attract aphids and ants to them, and draw away from other plants. Sunflowers are sturdy enough that they won’t be damaged by the pests.
Say goodbye to whiteflies, squash bugs and cucumber beetles when you plant nasturtiums – so plant them alongside tomatoes and cucumbers. Plagued by aphids? The yellow blooming varieties especially repel aphids and the flowers trap them.
Basil repels thrips, flies, tomato hornworms and mosquitoes, so plant it alongside your tomatoes.
Catnip will keep many pests at bay including flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants and weevils. Bonus: your cat will thank you.
Chives are effective against Japanese beetles, carrot rust flies and even scabs when you plant it alongside apple trees.
Several varieties of chrysanthemums are useful in your garden, including white flowering mums to control Japanese beetles and the Painted Daisy variety eliminates root nematodes.
Wonderfully versatile, it’s not just for pickles. Dill attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, and it is food for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. You can also draw tomato hornworms away from your tomatoes by planting dill in an area away from your tomato plants. Dill repels aphids, squash bugs and spidermites as well. It thrives when planted alongside onions and cucumbers.
Protect your roses from aphids by planting garlic nearby. Deer don’t like the smell of garlic, and neither do Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails or carrot root flies.
12. Bee Balm
Not only will bee balm (also known as bergamot) attract bees to your garden, but it will help your tomatoes thrive while staving off mosquitoes. Additionally, it attracts beneficial insects like beetles, centipedes, spiders, bees and butterflies – and those insects will in turn feast on parasites and pests.
Lavender repels fleas, moths and deer, while providing its trademark scent from its blossoms.
14. Human hair
Squirrels, rabbits and deer don’t like the smell of human hair. You can put it on top of the soil around your plants, and it will break down and enrich the soil. When it comes to deer, if you dare, hang mesh bags of hair in your garden. The bags will move and will spook the deer, and the smell will put them off. You can also stuff hair inside a scarecrow. Just ask a local barbershop or salon for a bag of clippings at the end of the day.
15. Border Plants and Garden Ornaments
When it comes to deer, it’s out of sight, out of mind. If your garden is bordered with tall, dense hedges, they won’t be able to see what is offered on the “buffet.” Additionally, scarecrows, sundials and other garden ornaments—especially those with movable parts—make deer skittish. Use them in combination with wind chimes or bright lights for an added effect.
Yes, you read that right. If you’re relaxing with a beer in your garden after a few hours of work, be sure to pour some of that liquid gold in shallow pans and leave them out for up to three days to catch snails.
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