Bugs exist to ruin things. Picnics, barbeques, bonfires — nothing safe from bugs. But bugs aren’t just annoying pests at outdoor gatherings; they can kill your lawn and destroy your garden, too.
There are a lot of ways to get rid of lawn pests. While you’re weighing your options, you might be tempted to go straight for the nuclear one: insecticides. Commercially available insecticides do kill bugs, but they also have downsides. For starters, because bugs have lots and lots of babies, they can quickly adapt over their short generations to become resistant to pesticides over time, rendering them ineffective. Pesticides can also have unintended consequences on beneficial bugs, birds, and your house pets.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can get rid of garden bugs naturally. They might require a little more extra work than pesticides, but we promise it’s worth it.
Nature does a pretty good job of turning away insects. You just have to know which plants repel which bugs and place them strategically throughout your garden. For example, peppermint and spearmint plants naturally deter ants and aphids. Place a few throughout your garden to repel these bugs away from your valuable plants.
You can also make your own natural repellent spray. There are a number of different recipes available online, so you can play around with them until you perfect it. One popular spray uses the natural power of garlic to get rid of beetles. Just put four cloves of minced garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil and let them sit overnight. In the morning, strain the garlic out of the mineral oil, then take the oil and mix it into one pint of water. Add a teaspoon of bleach-free dish detergent and store in a safe place. When you use it, mix two tablespoons of the concoction with a pint of water and fill up your favorite spray bottle.
Import beneficial insects
Not all bugs are bad, which is one reason you don’t want to go overboard with the insecticide. Beneficial insects, like lady bugs, prey on the bugs eating your garden. Planting fennel, calendula, coriander, and other plants can help attract beneficial insects to your garden naturally.
Of course, there’s no one-bug-fits-all solution, here. Depending on what pest is messing up your garden, you’ll need a different beneficial insect. That’s why you can often buy the eggs of beneficial insects online. Just follow the instructions to make sure they hatch and you’ll have a garden full of beneficial insects in no time.
Use a natural insecticide
If repellents don’t work and beneficial insects won’t stay, try using a natural insecticide. Natural insecticides use the natural powers of various plants the same way that natural repellents do (except instead of repelling insects, these sprays should kill them). Some also include natural soaps, which can be especially effective against soft-bodied insects such as aphids. If you’re feeling like a scientist, you should check out this publication on natural insecticides from professors at Washington State University. This resource from Global Healing Center also has a few good recipes.
Follow garden best practices
Keeping your soil aerated, your plants a good distance apart, and other garden best practices can help keep pests at a tolerable level. This guide from North Carolina State University can help you out if you’re just starting your journey as a gardener. If you’ve been at this game for a while and want to take it to the next level, check out GrowGreatVegetables.com. It’s full of in-depth guides and tips on soil, seeds, techniques, and more.
Image: Jill Heyer