As any gardener can attest, pests are an unwelcome, nasty surprise that can turn your flourishing green garden into a war zone. And many of the chemical pesticides available really are dangerous for humans, pets, wildlife, and planet Earth. However, there are numerous methods for protecting your garden from pests without the use of dangerous chemicals.
Perhaps shockingly, each year North American homes use more than 136 million pounds of pesticides on lawns, gardens, and even inside homes. And what’s worse? Residential homeowners use about three times the amount of pesticides as farmers.
Controlling your garden pests naturally isn’t just better for the environment, it’s less expensive, too. So, allow your garden to grow and provide you with produce that’s safe for you and your family. Check out the following tips, starting with pest prevention.
Discourage Pests From Your Garden
Many (new) gardeners may not realize this, but the easiest way to keep insects away and prevent damage to your garden from pests is to discourage them from ever coming in the first place. Here are a few preventative tips to help you get started with a healthy garden:
- Pull out any weak plants. Whether they are infected or not, weak plants will attract pests, so it is best to get rid of them as soon as possible.
- Use healthy, organic soil. Try your hand at composting, or at the very least buy good, organic soil at your local gardening store. By doing so and incorporating a natural fertilizer, you will be on the road to developing strong and vigorous plants.
- Try using seaweed mulch. This is a new one for many, but seaweed contains trace elements of iron, barium, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium, all of which promote healthy development in plants.
- Keep foliage dry. Your best bet is to water early in the day in order for foliage to be dry for most of the day. If possible, install a drip irrigation system in order to deliver water directly to the root systems without wetting the foliage. This also helps you conserve water.
Introduce Beneficial Insects
Another great way to keep unwanted garden pests away naturally is to introduce beneficial insects to prey on harmful, garden-destroying insects and their larvae. There are many different species that are great for specific problems, including the following:
- Ichneumon wasps: These helpful insects destroy leaf-eating caterpillars.
- Ladybugs: These colorful insects are perfect for getting rid of aphids, mites, whiteflies, and scale.
- Lacewings: Introduce these insects into your garden if you would like to get rid of aphids and other common varieties of insect pests.
- Praying mantis: The praying mantis will eat most pests that infiltrate your garden.
- Beneficial nematodes: These roundworms are effective against cutworms, beetles, and root weevil larvae.
These are just a few natural methods to help you keep away and rid your garden of annoying pests. There are numerous eco-friendly products on the market today that will help you keep your garden healthy, happy, and safe for you, and your pets.
Feature image courtesy of M
Editor’s note: Originally published on June 26, 2015, this article was updated in May 2019.