How to Stop Pest Infiltrations in Yard

Nearly 32 million households in the U.S. participated in vegetable gardening in 2019, says Statista, with nearly 36 million participating in flower gardening. While many of those households enjoy both vegetable and flower gardening it is safe to assume that upwards of 40 million households participate in some sort of gardening activity. Many choose vegetable gardening as a way to provide fresh, wholesome food for their family, but that’s not the only benefit you gain from gardening. Gardening is known to reduce stress, promote relaxation and give you a moderate workout improving both your physical and mental health. But, when garden pests arrive, and they always do, your stress levels may rise as you search to find what is the best pest control for gardens.

How to Keep Your Garden Pest Free

Practicing good gardening techniques goes a long way to keep your garden pest-free. Follow these tips for deterring pests in the garden.

  1. Keep your garden and the surrounding area clean and well-manicured. This means weeding your garden regularly, mowing or trimming the grass around the garden bed and keeping your garden free of old garden debris. Toss weeds, old plant material and any other bits of vegetation in the compost heap or haul it away to your local transfer station. Garden debris left to sit in your garden provides a breeding ground for garden pests. Removing it eliminates hiding places for slugs, earwigs and other garden pests that like to hide out in a moist, dark area during the day.
  2. Plant herbs and flowers that repel insects. Chives, garlic, basil, lemon thyme, dill and mint make a wonderful addition to the vegetable garden and work to help repel or deter insect pests, too. Likewise, marigolds, nasturtiums and mums add a splash of color to the garden bed while providing protection against garden pests. Plant them in a border around the garden bed, in rows in the garden or interplant them with your veggies. Some herbs, like basil help improve the flavor and health of your veggies. Basil is known to boost the flavor of tomatoes and should be interplanted in your tomato bed. Others, like marigolds and strong herbs, are thought to mask the scent of your veggies so insect pests can’t find them. They can be planted in rows to separate your veggie crops.

How to Control Garden Pests

Even with your best efforts in planting flowers and herbs to repel insects and keeping the garden clean, you may find some insect pests in your garden. When this happens, quick action is the key to success in eradicating garden pests. There are differing opinions for what is the best pest control for gardens, as some prefer to go with natural remedies, while others aren’t opposed to using commercial pesticides. Still, others use natural methods first and will use an insecticide as a last resort.  Whatever you choose is up to you, but there are many options.

Natural Remedies

  • Homemade Remedies: A mixture of  2 to 3 tablespoons of dish detergent, 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 gallon of water makes an effective insecticidal spray for killing insect pests. It must be sprayed directly on the insect, coating its body. This natural remedy for garden pests clogs the breathing pores and kills the insects within minutes.
  • Diatomaceous Earth: Diatomaceous earth is made from the ground up exoskeletons of diatoms and is effective in deterring cutworms and slugs in the garden. Apply it around the base of tender young plants in the spring to prevent cutworms and slugs from coming out at night and nipping your plants off at the ground level.
  • Neem Oil: Neem oil has long been the gold standard for natural insect control in plants. This spray kills insects in all stages of development, which means it will kill eggs and prevent them from hatching. Neem oil can be purchased at your local hardware store or home improvement center.

Commercial Insecticides

There are a wide variety of commercial insecticides available with varying degrees of toxicity. When considering what is the best pest control for gardens, it is wise to choose the least toxic product. The Clemson University Cooperative Extension provides a list of the least toxic insecticides, including those with the active ingredients, Beauveria bassiana, d-Limonene, Pyrethrin, Bacillus thuringiensis, Milky Spore and Spinosad. Each insecticide works differently and targets specific garden pests. Always check the label to determine which pest the insecticide targets as well as the stage of insect development it controls.

Keeping your garden free of pests requires diligence and careful observation, but it can be done. By using a combination of techniques, starting with a clean and well-maintained garden, and employing natural remedies you may never need to resort to commercial insecticides. However, if you do run into a problem you can’t handle talking to your local pest control experts may help. They are experienced in identifying pests and determining whether they pose a risk to your home or family.