22 Ways To Combat Garden Pests Naturally

22 Ways To Combat Garden Pests Naturallyimage preview

Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes, which makes gardening a challenging endeavor at times. The best preventative measure to take to encourage a pest-free garden is to keep your soil healthy and the pH levels balanced.  However, we know that a healthy garden attracts raccoons, rabbits, beetles, and other pests. We’ve compiled an arsenal of 22 tried-and-true ways to combat garden pests without the use of harsh pesticides.

22 Ways To Combat Garden Pests Without Chemicals

1. Enlist the Help of Feathered Friends

Eastern Bluebird will study the ground and snatch up insects.

Birds consume lots of insects and are a natural and attractive garden resident. Lure bug-eating birds to your garden area by placing a birdbath regularly filled with fresh water. This will also deter them from picking a tomato for the juice. Erect a bird feeder close by as well. Keep it filled with seeds in late autumn through early spring. This way, the garden will be their existing haven and when summer rolls around, and they will feed on the insects at hand. Guinea fowl set loose in the garden or lawn will eat ticks, hornworms, and Japanese beetles. Most won’t scratch or ruin plants or eat the vegetables as chickens may.

2. Banish Japanese Beetles With Garden Lime

Japanese beetles eating a garden plant

Dust green beans with garden lime to repel Japanese beetles.

3. Use Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth acts as a natural, abrasive barrier to crawling insects like stinkbugs. Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth beneath growing watermelon, cantaloupe, squash and all fruits and vegetables resting on the ground, as well as on plant leaves.

4. Spice it Up To Repel Loopers!

cabbage looper on a plant

To deter cabbage loopers from eating the leaves of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or kale, add 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper to 1 quart of water. Place in a spray bottle and apply to leaves, stems and the ground directly surrounding each plant.

5. Adios, Aphids

Aphids and grasshoppers can wreak havoc in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Try this: blend 2-4 hot peppers, 1 mild green pepper, and 1 small onion and a one-quart jar of water. Pour mixture into a spray bottle and apply as needed.

6. Make A DIY Bug Spray

An all-purpose pest-control spray can easily be made by adding 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap a spray bottle of warm water. TIP: Add the soap after the bottle is filled to prevent bubbling over.

7. Deter Squirrels With Fish Fertilizer

Stop squirrels from digging up planted corn with a mixture of 2 tablespoons liquid fish fertilizer to a gallon of water sprayed on rows.

8. Keep Dogs and Cats Out With Chopsticks

Discourage bigger pests such as cats or dogs from entering flower or garden beds by erecting lots of chopsticks or plastic forks in the ground among the seed beds, and surrounding young, tender plants. This leaves no room for animals to dig or disturb the plants, helping them get a good start. Try these other repellents to pet-proof your garden.

9. Deter Deer With Blood Meal

Scatter dried blood meal (available at any home and garden center) on the ground between rows of vegetables in the garden every week to 10 days to deter deer. This works for rabbit and groundhogs, too. However, blood meal tends to attract dogs. Sprinkle garden lime on top of the blood meal to repel the dogs. Or try this deer deterrent spray.

10. Bye, Bye Bullwinkle

Bright orange tape wrapped around stakes surrounding your garden plot has been known to keep moose away.

11. Repel Raccoons, Skunks, and Snakes With Garden Lime

Garden lime being sprinkled on the ground near plants

Keep these critters out of the garden by applying a wide stripe of garden lime around the garden perimeter. When an unwanted critter licks off the lime it will experience an unpleasant burning sensation, and hopefully, leave the garden.

12. Onions To The Rescue

Onions and/or garlic act as an insect deterrent when planted around or between all the other plants that insects tend to disturb.

13. Mums The Word

Plant chrysanthemums around your home to keep out bedbugs, fleas, lice, roaches, ants, and more. They also act as a repellent to ticks, spider mites, Japanese beetles, and other garden pests.

14. Protect Fruit Trees With Onions

Keep borers from drilling into the base of fruit trees in the orchard by planting a circle of onions or garlic around the tree trunk.

15. Plant Garlic To Help Raspberry Bushes

Garlic planted alongside raspberries will stop beetles from destroying the crop.

16. A Potato-Bean Friendship

The Colorado potato beetle.

Bush beans planted in alternate rows with potatoes protect them against the Colorado potato beetle. The potatoes in return keep bush beans from the Mexican bean beetle.

17. Radish Rescue

Gardening - Woman is harvesting radishes from the raised bed

Radishes deter beetles when planted around crops of beans, peas, squash, melons, and cucumbers.

18. A Yummy Salad

Plant basil next to tomato plants to help protect them from an attack of harmful insects and disease. This will also enhance the plant’s growth.

19. Herb’s the Word

rosemary

The aromatic herb rosemary is a valuable companion plant in the vegetable garden as it deters bean beetles, cabbage moths, and carrot flies.

20. Catnip—Not Just for Cats!

catnip

Interplanting catnip and tansy with zucchini and cucumbers will reduce the population of cucumber beetles.

21. Petunia Deterrent

Plant petunias around beans and potatoes. Petunias help keep the Colorado potato beetles (pictured above) away.

22. Ants Away With Tansy

yellow flower tansy summer on a green background heat village garden

Grow tansy to discourage ants and aphids from the garden and greenhouse. Plant it around your garden, and buildings. Ants carry aphids. Discouraging ants will help keep aphids away from the garden.

Looking for more companion planting strategies? We have them here!

Helpful Strategies For The Gardener

  • To remove tiny deer ticks quickly from your clothing when working on the lawn or in the garden, use duct tape, packing tape or a tape lint roller. Roll it over yourself and your pets periodically when you’re out working in the garden.
  • To keep gnats away from your face, while working outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat (check out our new Outback Hat!). Gnats will not fly under the brim and make a nuisance.
  • Make yourself unattractive to bees, black flies, and other flying pests. When working outdoors, don’t wear perfume, hairspray, scented deodorant, or brightly colored clothing.

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004. Her article on salt-based home remedies appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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Rachel Leachman
Rachel Leachman
2 months ago

How to get rid of squash borers, I cannot successfully grow squash.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
2 months ago

Hi Rachel, We understand! Squash vine borers are nasty. We found some good info here that might help you.

Cecile A Spikes
Cecile A Spikes
3 months ago

Well what qabout snails

Elaine
Elaine
5 months ago

How do you deter armadillos?

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Hi Elaine, we found some good information here. Hope it helps! http://wildliferemovalusa.com/armadillo-out.html

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Diatomaceous Earth is not harmful to pets or humans provided you use food-grade DE. Very important!

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Hi Anita, we found some information you might find helpful: https://www.pestworld.org/pest-guide/ants/yellow-ants/

JoAnn
JoAnn
6 months ago

A lot of your remedies seem like they would be very harmful to pets, such as the diotancious (sp?) earth and the hot pepper sprays. Am I right?

LaBic
LaBic
6 months ago

The tansy plant may be banned in some areas as it is noxious (especially to horses, I’ve heard).

anita
anita
6 months ago

I have tons of golden color ants in my garden. How to get rid of them naturally?

Ray
Ray
6 months ago

How to eliminate moles in your lawn.

JoAnn
JoAnn
6 months ago
Reply to  Ray

I used a solar powered “thumper” or “noise generator” and it worked quite well. Put 3 of them in my garden that’s 50×20.

Krystal
Krystal
1 year ago

Other than a fence how do you keep chickens from eating your plants and out of your garden beds?

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
1 year ago
Reply to  Krystal

Hi Krystal, we found this info you might find helpful: https://modernfarmer.com/2013/06/how-to-chicken-proof-your-garden/

Angelwings2ltd
Angelwings2ltd
1 year ago

The best way – I have found to get rid of Fleas in both the yard & on your pets. . . Is Texas Cedarwood Oil. . .You can get products from Wondercide,com . . . All Natural products, Safe for Humans & your critters. You should see the fleas will drop off your pets within Minutes! I Highly recommend their products! (and No, I do not get paid for endorsing them. . . I just love their products!)

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
1 year ago
Reply to  Angelwings2ltd

Thanks, Angelwings2ltd

Lizh
Lizh
2 years ago

I have Neem oil. It is supposed to cause anoxia in insects so they starve to death. It is not supposed to hurt bees though. There is so much poor info available I am still unsure if I should use it.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
2 years ago
Reply to  Lizh

Hi Lizh, this article might be helpful: https://www.discoverneem.com/neem-oil-insecticide.html

gq_farmer
gq_farmer
10 months ago
Reply to  Lizh

Hi Lizh, I made the mistake of applying Neem oil in the morning and by the afternoon, my tomatoes were burned to a crisp. Lesson learned; use sparingly and always in the evening.

SusanS
SusanS
2 years ago

Please be thoughtful when using diatomacious earth. It works by cutting into the exoskeleton of insects. Imagine yourself crawling through broken glass. While it may get rid of the pests annoying you, it will harm the beneficial insects, earthworms, etc. as well. It will stay in the ground where you sprinkle it – it doesn’t dissolve and disappear anymore than broken glass would.

John T. Banewicz
John T. Banewicz
2 years ago

Hate to use this method of getting rid of 4 legged garden munchers like ground hogs and chipmunks, but it works. Place pieces of bubble gum in locations frequented by these critters in early spring and they die of constipation. What a way to go.

Cindy
Cindy
3 years ago

Love all of these natural ideas. I live in the woods and have lots of critters to repel.

Patty
Patty
3 years ago

What is a good way to prevent tent caterpillars from invading and defoliating my Texas Mountain Laurel trees?

Dottie Ford
Dottie Ford
4 years ago

I have had great success getting rid of ants. by mixing icing sugar and borax (half and half) put it anywhere you see ants. The icing sugar attracts them and and the borax shrivels them up. They carry this back to their nest and before you know it the nest is obliterated.

Beverley Estes
Beverley Estes
4 years ago

Thank you so much as I need all the help I can get. God is my greatest helper and them people. Be3

Charles
Charles
4 years ago

For underground stinging insects, I have successfully (100%) over many years treated them in this manner. Wait till late dusk and/or dark. Prepare a water hose with a SLOW flow of water, you want the water to soak into the ground, not wash away the nest….no more than a cup per minute or so. Using a flashlight if necessary approach the nest opening and insert the end of the hose with the water running into the opening to block and bugs from leaving the net. Let the water run for about an hour to an hour and a half. Turn off the water…stay away from the nest till dawn. Pull the hose away from the nest from a safe distance. There should be NO more activity!

Beth Williams
Beth Williams
4 years ago

We live in the Florida Keys, we have a problem with Iguanas,all sizes from babies to 1-3 foot long!! They love to eat landscape just about everything but Palm Trees!!! Another problem is Land crabs they dig tunnels in the ground very hard to catch out of their/my property holes!!! Any suggestions??

sewgood007
sewgood007
4 years ago

I have a chipmunk problem, and a cat is not an option for me. Any other suggestions?

Dennis Decker
Dennis Decker
4 years ago
Reply to  sewgood007

Fill a bucket. 1/2 full of water use a board for a ramp from a step or rocks sprinkle a few sunflower seeds on ramp and in water they eat seeds on board then jump in water for more . I once had 5 in the bucket at once!

Bella
Bella
4 years ago

Hello, is there a natural remedy to kill fleas? It seems there are becoming immune to everything! I live in Florida and I just hate to keep using all those pesticides.
Than you 🙂

Cathy
Cathy
9 months ago
Reply to  Bella

I was told Texas cederwood oil. Put n spray bottle. After spraying on animals, 5 min should kill fleas.

Christie
Christie
4 years ago

To deter moles plant castor beans. The moles do not like the odor that the plants give off. A word of warning the seeds are poisonous. Keep small children away from the seeds or just cut the seed heads off. My goats loved the leaves.

sharon williamson
sharon williamson
4 years ago

What will deter Deer from getting in our garden?Also how do you stop squash bugs from killing your plants?

Patricia Johnson
Patricia Johnson
4 years ago

Do you know of a natural mole remedy? My chickens free range on the grass and I don’t want to use any poison. My landlord wants to stck those mole bait “worms” down their holes and I’m trying to keep him from doing it.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
4 years ago

Hi Patricia Johnson: Try the recommendations here: Pests of the Month: Moles and Voles

Cindy Rajhel
Cindy Rajhel
5 years ago

Lots of fun essays about garden pests in this eBook:http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0103CGKFS?

Jacqueline
Jacqueline
5 years ago

I live in Austin Texas and we have 2 dozen or more fire ant hills that pop up every spring on my acre. When I see them I fill up an old parmesan cheese shaker bottle with diatomaceous earth. I find a bamboo stick at least 3 feet long. I walk every inch of the yard and treat every ant hill: Dig into the hill with the end of the stick. Stir up the entire top of the hill. Then sprinkle very thickly the whole hill and surrounding area a few inches around it with the DE powder. Stir it up again. The whole hill will be dead in a few days! Occasionally I need to treat it again in a week – but usually one treatment kills the whole hill. I buy the 50 lb bag of DE at our neighbor animal feed store. Many other uses for DE – including internal for humans & pets. NO MORE POISON. Good information at https://www.earthworkshealth.com/testimonials/

carla
carla
5 years ago

To get rid of rats in your garden fill a large bucket 1/4 full of water, throw some sunflower seeds onto water to imitate a full bucket of seeds to the rats. Put a piece of wood against it for the rats to climb up. They will try to get to the sunflower seeds, fall in and drown. IT REALLY WORKS and you will not poison your pets in the process. The other night there were 3 rats in the bucket and two days later there were two rats in the bucket. Here in Cape Town, South Africa the rats are as big as kittens too large for the normal mouse trap. Good luck.

JoAnn
JoAnn
6 months ago
Reply to  carla

God forbid you actually catch a kitten…

Yolanda
Yolanda
5 years ago

Help!!!!!!!!!!!fruit rats, I have a problem with them nesting in my garden, I have trapped them and is gross and nasty, don’t want to use any kind of poison since I have a dog, is there any natural remedy?

sharontex2
sharontex2
5 years ago

PLZ HELP !! I live in an apartment complex and have a small patio on the ground level, I am deathly afraid of frog’s and any other nonhuman creatures.. My patio is full of plants and at this time of year FROGS.. is there anything I can do ?? Oh,and LIZARDS also

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

What can I do about woodchucks living in the crawl space under my house? I have tried traps but all I catch are skunks and cats.

Maria
Maria
5 years ago

Please do not scatter mothballs ANYWHERE! There are toxic and according to the EPA a “possible” carcinogenic.

Robyn field
Robyn field
5 years ago

robyn you said you have seen the bees go in n out!! I’m not sure what area you live in but if it is ground hornets stay away… If one comes at you and stings you many more will attack … This can be deadly.. Espically to a child!!! If you have that many you many need yo call someone to spray them!!! Oh my this scares me.. Also at dawn listen closely to hear if you can hear them swarming underground!!! If close enough u may fill vibration!! Please be careful!!!! Oh yes I was thinking the mounds may be crawfish, mudbugs… They make a 4-5 inch column of mud above ground !!!

Jeanette4
Jeanette4
9 months ago
Reply to  Robyn field

Last summer I was mowing near pampas grass and disturbed a nest Underground but did not know it until one hit me…I smacked it and created a swarm…fortunately I was close to being indoors. I called our Ag agent–turned out to be pygmy wasps-he told me to go out at dusk, locate a mud cope and pour sevin dust in it. It worked but now I am always on the alert for them.

Barb
Barb
8 months ago
Reply to  Robyn field

I waited to the end the day when it’s starting to get dark and ground wasps are are sleeping pour ammonia down the holes that you see and you’ll never see him again it worked for me I got stung once and it was very painful

Fusun
Fusun
5 years ago

‘@Judy Paul: Place mothballs around the flower bulbs to deter squirrels, rabbits, and others alike from digging up the bulbs and later chewing on the leaves.

rostant lackhee
rostant lackhee
5 years ago

Good informations. What can keep away from from my yard

rostant lackhee
rostant lackhee
5 years ago

Information given were very useful. I have to apply some of them in my country, which can assist me from eradicating some pest

Mary Worton
Mary Worton
5 years ago

We that live here in Southeast Texas are currently in the middle of a tent catapillar invasion. They are decimating trees and rose bushes. Bug B Gone seems to be working for now, but is there anything else we can use?

Kathy Short
Kathy Short
5 years ago

What can be done if anything for millipedes every wherein the yard and on the sidewalk and even makes it into the house crawling along base boards ? Need help, there driving us crazy here in Florida. We have our lawn sprayed by pest control nothing seems to stop them..

Judy Deveaux
Judy Deveaux
8 months ago
Reply to  Kathy Short

I’m in the Bahamas, I’m having the same problem. I also need some help

Sharon
Sharon
5 years ago

For Sharon in San Antonio regarding fleas and ticks. We have used pellet sulphur spread in the yard and around the perimeter. This has eradicated tick and fleas in our yards in Texas as well as Oklahoma.

Kristina
Kristina
5 years ago

How do I get rid of gophers? I tried the pellets in fresh dug spots doesn’t seem to help. Tried the trap caught 2 but the last one was so big he barely fit. Tried the in ground vibrating thing. I need help they are destroying my yard as well as killing most of my flowers. They seem to have eaten the roots of my apple tree and even a yuca plant.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 years ago
Reply to  Kristina

Hi Kristina, check out this story we did on gophers: Pest of the Month: Gophers

Lisa
Lisa
5 years ago

In reference to “lime” they are talking about limestone powder ! It has several uses in the garden , one being that it repels pests & another is it will increase the ph level in the soil . Hope this helps …

Janice mondelli
Janice mondelli
5 years ago

Good article, even I learned a few things today. Thank you, I recommend everyone read the posts as well.

Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
5 years ago

Thank you, Janice Mondelli!

Mary H. Schronce
Mary H. Schronce
5 years ago

to Robin Fileds with the GROUND BEES……..Are you sure they are bees and not YELLOW JACKETS. Yellow jackets build their nest in the ground. They will swarm and sting you if you disturb their nest. They will build most anywhere in the ground but especially where grass or tall weeds hides the entrance to their nest. Don’t know how to get rid of them but if you get stung and start having any swelling get to the doctor. Could be dangerous.

wanda bridges
wanda bridges
5 years ago

Epsom salt is an awesome snail/slug deterrent. pour a line around your garden to keep them out. Also, 1 cup epsom salt mixed with a gallon warm water is good for acid loving plants, like azaleas, rose bushes, etc. Just mix and pour over base of plants for the extra magnesium the soil requires for the flowering times.

Betty Smith
Betty Smith
5 years ago

Snakes! what do I do to keep them away from around the house???

liz
liz
6 months ago
Reply to  Betty Smith

most snakes are not poisonous and are great mole, vole and chipmunk eaters, so let them be

anita
anita
6 months ago
Reply to  Betty Smith

If snakes seem to always find their way into your yard, keep them away with ammonia. Snakes hate the smell and won’t come near it. Soak rags in ammonia and place them in unsealed plastic bags. Leave the plastic bags where you usually see the snakes, and they won’t come back again

Sharon San Antonio Tx
Sharon San Antonio Tx
5 years ago

Can anyone help? My yard is overcome with ticks. Please help,desperate San Antonio Tx

Sharon San Antonio Tx
Sharon San Antonio Tx
5 years ago

Can anyone help with a good remedy for ticks and fleas, desperate please help

Jolly Zingaro
Jolly Zingaro
5 years ago

I have thousands of red ants in my keyhole garden, any natural remedies please?

henry fieldseth
henry fieldseth
5 years ago

Boiling water is an incredibly good pesticide and herbicide. Pour it into offensive anthills. Or onto offensive weeds. Works well in sidewalk cracks. Not recommended for indoor pests. Non-toxic once cooled.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

‘@Robin….use diatomaceous earth (see my comment below)…however, bees are good and we need them for our survival …see this:
http://greendustriesblog.com/greendustries/2012/04/12/bees-and-survival-of-the-human-race/

John Ryan
John Ryan
5 years ago

To keep geese out of the area by the water place a swan decoy or two in the vicinity.
BlackBerry canes are the part that the berry great on last year. They are usually cut out in early spring to make room for tide years growth.

Robin Field
Robin Field
5 years ago

How do you get rid of ground bees. I just discovered about a 50 square foot area of my yard with hundreds of mounds. I thought at first it was ants, but I watched the bees go into and out of them.