Your garden is your happy place, a space where you create life and nurture growth. The last thing you want in this magical place is a pest infestation destroying the fruits of your labor, perhaps literally. If the garden pests are already well established, you may have no choice but to spray for insects or contract with a rodent removal service. But if you catch them soon enough, there are many steps you can take to prevent pests from gaining a foothold in your greenspace.
Minimize Nesting Places
The very first thing to do is to make sure your garden and the surrounding areas aren’t hiding any ideal hiding or nesting places for pests. Block off spaces under patios, clear out debris, and visually inspect for signs of nesting or tunneling critters. Keeping a tidy garden space doesn’t just look good, it’s better for your garden’s health, too! Also, don’t forget to look up for signs of wasps’ nests under the eaves and under patio roofs. Eliminating nesting and hiding places won’t fully eliminate pests from your garden, but it’ll make it less convenient for them.
Use Garden Netting
Garden netting is a good way to prevent pests from decimating your garden. Netting placed over your beds will help keep deer and rabbits from eating your garden. You will need to lift or otherwise disturb the netting periodically to keep plants from intertwining with it. Netting also offers protection for fruit trees, as it will help keep the birds out, as long as you wrap it top to bottom and tie the netting underneath to prevent birds from getting in that way too. As an added bonus, the netting will catch fruit before it falls and bruises on the ground. Remember, physical barriers are one of the most successful ways of combating pests of all kinds, so consider these your first line of defense.
Use Floating Row Covers
Speaking of physical barriers, floating row covers are one of the most successful ways to protect your garden. They envelop your plants in a physical shield to protect them from pests of all kinds, whether insect, rodent, or larger grazers such as deer. Floating row covers are designed to create a large, protected airspace of your plants, while still letting in water and light. They’ll even protect your plants from frost damage in the event of a freeze, and help acclimate transplants without shocking them, especially if they’ve been moved outside from where you started them indoors.
Raise Your Flower Beds
Another thing you can do to protect your garden is to raise your flower beds. Raising your beds and installing a layer of wire mesh underneath the raised bed will prevent burrowing and digging rodents from getting in and eating your garden from underneath or damaging the roots. The wire mesh is enough of a barrier to keep pests out while still allowing beneficial bugs, roots, and water to pass through. A raised bed with netting or a floating row cover over it is practically a fortress!
Make Your Garden Smell Like a Predator
Most garden pests have a keen sense of smell, and will stay away from places that smell like their natural predators. Hardware stores and gardening centers usually have products that use coyote or fox urine, such as pellets you can sprinkle around your garden to make it seem like a larger creature has been marking their territory. A cheaper (or free) option is to repurpose your used kitty litter and sprinkle it over your garden, although you might want to opt for a less chemical version than the standard clumping kitty litter, especially if you have a vegetable garden. Mulching with human hair clippings can get a similar effect, or you could actually tie up bundles of human hair clippings in mesh bags around your garden or on your plants.
Sprinkle Tea and Coffee Grounds
You may have heard that sprinkling used tea leaves and coffee grounds in your garden is good for the soil. It does provide many useful nutrients that will benefit your plants, but guess what? It’s also good for keeping pests out! Many pests, both critters, and creepy crawlies, dislike the smells of tea leaves and coffee grounds, so using them in the top layer of your soil will help to keep unwanted visitors away from your plants. As an added bonus, it’ll also keep the neighborhood cats from using your garden as a litter box.
Spray Plants to Make Them Less Edible
Besides putting up physical barriers and making your garden smell like a predator’s den, another option is to simply make the plants less tasty. Homemade sprays of garlic or cayenne pepper work well to deter pests from eating your plants, by making the leaves smell and taste unappealing to even the hungriest of pests. Unfortunately, these sprays do need to be reapplied after rain storms or waterings, as they’ll wash right off when the plants get wet.
There are a variety of plants that pests actually dislike, and mixing them in with the other plants in your garden can help to keep pests away. Plants that pests dislike include flowering plants like lavender and marigold, herbs such as basil and mint, and delicious vegetables such as onions, garlic, and hot peppers. Even catnip is unpleasant to certain pests such as rabbits, and as an added bonus, may attract cats to your yard.
Plan Your Garden to Attract Predators
There are a variety of beneficial bugs that you can lure into your garden with the right plants. Creepy crawlies such as ladybugs, lacewings, and even wasps benefit your garden by eating the bugs that would eat your plants. What you plant can make your garden a paradise for these bugs. Consider planting flowers like dill, sweet alyssum, yarrow, and cosmos right in among the plants they’re there to protect.
If all of the preventative measures to keep pests out don’t work, or if the situation is too far advanced for any of these to have much effect, you may need to resort to pest and rodent removal. There are a variety of types of traps you can use, from yellow jacket traps to rodent traps. It’s up to you whether you use humane catch-and-release style traps, but if you do, be sure to check them often to prevent any critters from starving to death, and to release your captives far away from your garden. If neither type of trap appeals to you, consider hiring a pest removal service that can handle the infestation for you, for an out-of-sight peace of mind.
Creating Your Own Home Paradise
Your garden or greenspace should be a paradise in your own backyard, somewhere you can go to be happy and enjoy the peace and quiet. Nothing destroys that faster than having an infestation of pests eating your plants and spoiling your garden! Plants that are beautiful or delicious to us are usually appealing to creepy crawlies and critters as well. If your time in the garden has become too focused on driving out the pests, don’t be afraid to call in professional help, whether that’s someone to spray for insects or a rodent control service.