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Get Rid of Garden Pests With These Natural Remedies

Get Rid of Garden Pests With These Natural Remedies

By Brad Wardle, VP, B-hyve
Photographs courtesy of B-hyve

Every gardener faces the same nemesis every year. No matter how carefully you select, cultivate and water your plants, yard pests are just waiting for their chance to strike. It doesn’t take long for a beautifully tended garden to be stripped of its green, leafy glory – leaving behind only dead, chomped-out stalks.

In the face of such relentless destruction, it’s only natural to flee to the home improvement store and find the strongest insecticide we can. However, we should also be concerned about the impact of chemical sprays on our yards and the environment. Fortunately, there are powerful remedies for yard pests that take a more natural approach.

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Sometimes the old ways (water) are the best

Water is the original pest fighter and our most important ally in the garden. Along with water being necessary to make all things grow and flourish, you can free your patch of paradise from many pests by simply washing them away. Arm your hose with a watering wand for added oomph.

A well-timed jet of water is also a helpful, non-toxic way to keep your plants from being nibbled by gophers, moles and deer. Install a motion-activated sprinkler to frighten away four-legged (and even the occasional two-legged) burglars with a blast of water. It even provides a good laugh when you need one.

Banish with beer

Some homeowners are drawn to the idea of sipping a cold brew in the garden after a long day of planting, weeding and mowing in the sun. As it turns out, slugs, snails and earwigs feel the same way. Pour a splash of beer in an empty tuna fish can and watch the pests follow its rich, yeasty smell.

Place several cans around the yard in places where you see activity or decimated plant leaves. For teetotallers, fruit juice or vegetable oil is almost as effective.

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Adopt the mad scientist approach

Chemical insecticides might be effective, but, again, many of us don’t like how hard they can be on the environment. That doesn’t mean you should rule out sprays altogether. Embrace the mad scientist within and concoct your own spray: a mix of 2.5 tablespoons of dish soap and 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil per gallon of water is a reliable recipe.

Once you have mixed the base, several household ingredients can boost the potency of the spray. Adding two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce, mint or neem oil will upgrade the mix and keep an even greater variety of pests at bay. Spray both the tops and undersides of leaves with the mixture. Reapply after rain. Note: Sprays like these can kill beneficial insects along with the pests, so be careful using them.

Copper is an elemental solution

If you do find yourself at the home improvement store desperate for a pest remedy, instead of reaching for chemical pesticides, follow the gleam of copper. The element is an environmentally friendly way to keep slugs and snails out of garden beds.

Look for copper tape, mesh or wiring to set up at the edges of garden beds – it’s believed that the bodies of slugs and snails react to the copper and they will avoid it. Generally avoid copper-based pesticides, however. Although healthy plants actually benefit from a little copper, it’s pretty easy to reach toxic levels by applying too much.

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Plant your problems away

Plants really are the best. Regardless of what other methods you employ to get rid of yard pests, the most effective is often just choosing the right plants. Several common garden and household cultivars offer a shield for themselves and the greenery around them.

Basil, chives, garlic, dill and lemongrass may sound like ingredients in a delicious meal, but they are also plants that offer natural pest control through strong aromas that critters dislike. Lining a garden with marigolds will keep mosquitoes, aphids and even rabbits away. Parsley and petunias show common types of beetles to the door.

Controlling yard pests doesn’t have to be an exercise in chemical warfare. By embracing natural and non-toxic solutions, you can have the garden of your dreams and still feel good about how you got there.

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