While pesticides and other chemicals may do a fantastic job of controlling unwanted pests in the landscape, they are not for everyone. If you want to attract butterflies, grow an organic veggie garden, or simply live chemical free, these are some tips to keep garden pests under control the natural way.
Encourage Useful Bugs
These bugs, often called “Beneficials”, eat aphids, mites, and other damaging insects to provide great garden pest control. Avoid insecticides as these can harm your helpers.
Green lacewing larvae and ladybugs are fantastic for getting an aphid problem under control. Ladybugs are particularly wonderful because they devour aphids, scale insects, and mites while in both the larvae and adult stage of life. They eat bugs and pollen so it’s important to plant a variety of plants they care for. This includes:
You can purchase ladybugs at garden centers but you must convince them to stick around to reap the benefits. Place them in the refrigerator for a few hours to slow them down prior to release. They are less likely to immediately fly away if released right before sunup or after sunset and enjoy being placed near one of their favorite plants or an infested plant for a snack.
Ground beetles can help keep slugs, root maggots, and cut worms at bay. They are actually among the fastest land animals on earth, hunting and easily catching unwanted garden pests while you slumber.
Earthworms are another Beneficial to encourage in your garden. They do wonders for your soil by improving water filtration, aeration, and improve nutrients in the soil. On top of all of that, a healthy population of earthworms will help keep weeds from germinating.
Plant to Deter
Mosquitos and wasps seem to top the list of unwanted guests in backyards. Rather than coating yourself with repellant chemicals you can deter unwanted bugs by selecting the right plants. Consider planting the following to help keep harmful bugs away:
Insecticidal soap is very useful against aphids. While similar to dish soap, it is not safe to substitute dish soap, as it can harm your plants. Chickens are quickly climbing the list of gardener’s best friends now that they are allowed within Colorado Springs city limits. Let them loose in your garden and they will help control slugs, Japanese beetles, and cutworms among other things. You can also sprinkle crushed eggshells around plants to deter slugs and beetles. Be careful with this method as it can also kill your ladybugs and other Beneficials. Purchasing or making your own covers for your garden will help ward off pests and can protect from hail damage as well, which in Colorado can creep up on you and decimate your harvest. If all else fails, handpicking, while not for the squeamish, is very effective against many garden pests.
If you have an issue with larger garden “pests” like rabbits or deer eating your flowers and vegetables, check out our list of deer resistant plants here, which are also commonly disliked by deer and rabbits. Should you have any issues with voles, contact our PHC team for solutions.