A garden, whether it’s grown for food or beauty, takes a gentle hand and lots of work to flourish. When that hard work is threatened by pests a gardener should do their best to remove the threat and prevent it from returning. Learning how to get rid of garden pests isn’t as simple as it sounds. It takes a bit of research and some trial and error to find the best method for the garden.
Identifying Garden Pests
Before getting to how to get rid of garden pests, a gardener should find figure out what type of pest they’re dealing with. There are many types of gardens pests, and each have different impacts to the garden.
Animals – There are a number of different animals that will terrorize a garden. Rabbits, squirrels, birds and even raccoons will forage plants for food. Identifying these types of pests are much easier than one would think. Look for tracks, signs of digging, the odd tuff of fur or feather laying around and spend some time watching the garden to see if and when they may be showing up.
Leaf-Eaters – Pests that eat the leaves and stems of plants are another easy one to spot. They leave their mark in the shape of hole filled leaves. Some of these pests will devour large chunks of the plant before you can spot them. So it a good idea to inspect all plants daily for signs of damage. Pests in this group include beetles, hornworms and cabbage worms.
Sap-Eaters – These pests are a little harder to spot. They pierce the stem of plants and drain the sap from it. This causes the plant to lose much-needed nutrients. The plant may look wilted or stunted, but the best way to spot these pests is by visually looking for them. Many will cocoon themselves against the stem to protect themselves. Pests in this group include aphids, spider mites, and stink bugs.
Soil Dwelling Pests – By far the hardest pest to spot early are soil dwelling pests, such as pill bugs, white grubs, and mole crickets. These pests feed off the roots and stems of plants. Plants will often look sickly or stunted. The only way to identify these pests is to dig around the plants and visually spot them.
Control and Prevention
The entire point of identifying pests is to get rid of them. Once the pests are known a gardener has several options to consider to control them.
Animals can be controlled with traps, noise makers, and other scare tactics. Live catch and release traps can be set out around and in the garden to catch furry animals. They can then be released in a faraway land where they can never darken the gardens again. Noise makers and scare tactics include automatic lights, a string of cans or pie tins and anything that will frighten birds and animals off when they get too close to the plants.
Bugs will need a different strategy depending on what type of pest they are. Leaf-eaters and sap-eaters can be kept away with insecticides, but a more natural way may be preferred. Use a stream of water from a garden hose to wash away any bugs that can be seen. Hand picking may be needed so a gardener should wear gloves. Chemicals such as Sevin Dust are often used to keep pests away once they’ve been removed, but any greens or vegetables from these plants should be washed well before consumed.
To save plants from soil dwelling pests, a gardener can use a cardboard collar. A cardboard collar is placed around the stem of the plant when it’s placed in the ground. This collar should extend at least two inches into the ground and several inches up the steam of the plant. A cardboard barrier can also be placed around the growing area of the plants.
Keeping a garden neat and clean is a great way to deter pests, and it helps the gardener spot any problems before they grow out of control. Remove weeds and dead plants daily to avoid rotting plants attracting animals and bugs.
Companion planting is another common method used to deter pests. Plants that give off a powerful scent, such as mint, sage and basil will keep many bugs away from the garden. The smell confuses them and can make them loose their way. It is because of this that many pests avoid strong smelling plants.
Learning how to get rid of garden pests is never easy. In fact, it could take a few seasons for a gardener to find the best method of keeping their plants safe. The best bit of advice for new gardeners is to find plants that are resistant to local pests. Keep note of which methods worked best in years prior and expand on the experience.