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22 Ways To Combat Garden Pests Naturally

22 Ways To Combat Garden Pests Naturally

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. 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. Garden lime to the rescue! Dust green beans with garden lime to repel Japanese beetles.
  3. 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 deter cabbage moths (worms) 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. 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. Fishing? 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. Who let the dogs out? Discourage bigger pests such as cats or dogs from entering flower or garden beds by erecting lots of thin sticks 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.
  9. Deer deterrent. 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.
  10. Bye, bye Bullwinkle. Bright orange tape wrapped around stakes surrounding your garden plot has been known to keep moose away.
  11. Raccoons, skunks, and snakes, oh my! 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. Do not disturb! 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. 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. Raspberry’s friend. Garlic planted alongside raspberries will stop beetles from destroying the crop.
  16. A potato/bean friendship. Bush beans planted in alternate rows with potatoes protect them against the Colorado potato beetle (pictured). The potatoes in return keep bush beans from the Mexican bean beetle.
  17. Radishes. 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. The aromatic herb rosemary is a valuable companion plant in the vegetable garden as it deters bean beetles, cabbage moths, and carrot flies.
  20. Not just for cats! Interplanting catnip and tansy with zucchinis and cucumbers will reduce the population of cucumber beetles.
  21. Plant petunias around beans and potatoes. Petunias help keep the Colorado potato beetles away.
  22. Ants away! 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!

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.

Like what you read? Read What To Plant To Keep The Bugs Away

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1 Susan Higgins { 12.20.19 at 10:20 am }

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

2 Krystal { 12.20.19 at 4:58 am }

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

3 Susan Higgins { 10.01.19 at 9:54 am }

Thanks, Angelwings2ltd

4 Angelwings2ltd { 09.27.19 at 12:47 pm }

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!)

5 Susan Higgins { 05.22.18 at 10:59 am }

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

6 Lizh { 05.19.18 at 10:41 am }

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.

7 SusanS { 04.07.18 at 1:46 pm }

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.

8 John T. Banewicz { 04.04.18 at 11:17 am }

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.

9 Cindy { 05.18.17 at 6:28 pm }

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

10 Patty { 04.25.17 at 5:32 pm }

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

11 Dottie Ford { 06.14.16 at 8:28 pm }

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.

12 Beverley Estes { 05.29.16 at 8:03 pm }

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

13 Charles { 05.17.16 at 1:14 pm }

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!

14 Beth Williams { 05.14.16 at 8:04 am }

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??

15 Dennis Decker { 07.01.16 at 12:32 pm }

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!

16 sewgood007 { 04.29.16 at 4:56 pm }

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

17 Bella { 04.27.16 at 3:32 pm }

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 🙂

18 Christie { 04.27.16 at 1:31 pm }

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.

19 sharon williamson { 04.04.16 at 9:05 am }

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

20 Susan Higgins { 04.04.16 at 10:05 am }

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

21 Patricia Johnson { 04.03.16 at 11:39 pm }

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.

22 Cindy Rajhel { 08.17.15 at 3:59 pm }

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

23 Jacqueline { 06.10.15 at 11:03 pm }

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/

24 carla { 06.09.15 at 5:20 pm }

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.

25 Yolanda { 05.31.15 at 4:24 pm }

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?

26 sharontex2 { 05.06.15 at 9:33 pm }

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

27 Jane { 04.20.15 at 12:30 pm }

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.

28 Maria { 04.17.15 at 10:43 am }

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

29 Robyn field { 04.15.15 at 5:52 pm }

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 !!!

30 Fusun { 04.14.15 at 10:51 am }

@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.

31 rostant lackhee { 04.11.15 at 6:42 am }

Good informations. What can keep away from from my yard

32 rostant lackhee { 04.11.15 at 6:39 am }

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

33 Mary Worton { 04.10.15 at 4:33 pm }

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?

34 Kathy Short { 04.10.15 at 3:44 pm }

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..

35 Sharon { 04.10.15 at 12:07 am }

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.

36 Susan Higgins { 04.10.15 at 9:07 am }

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

37 Kristina { 04.09.15 at 10:00 pm }

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.

38 Lisa { 04.09.15 at 6:50 pm }

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 …

39 Susan Higgins { 04.10.15 at 9:36 am }

Thank you, Janice Mondelli!

40 Janice mondelli { 04.09.15 at 6:49 pm }

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

41 Mary H. Schronce { 04.09.15 at 3:47 pm }

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.

42 wanda bridges { 04.09.15 at 3:44 pm }

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.

43 Betty Smith { 04.09.15 at 3:05 pm }

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

44 Sharon San Antonio Tx { 04.09.15 at 2:46 pm }

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

45 Sharon San Antonio Tx { 04.09.15 at 2:45 pm }

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

46 Jolly Zingaro { 04.09.15 at 2:37 pm }

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

47 henry fieldseth { 04.09.15 at 11:46 am }

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.

48 Ali { 04.09.15 at 11:15 am }

@Robin….use diatomaceous earth (see my comment below)…however, bees are good and we need them for our survival …see this:

49 John Ryan { 04.09.15 at 11:13 am }

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.

50 Robin Field { 04.09.15 at 8:52 am }

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.

51 mac { 04.08.15 at 11:12 pm }

For snails, I use crushed oyster shells. It cuts them up very bad, and won’t come back!!

52 cathy { 04.08.15 at 9:39 pm }

To keep moles and mice deterred: Gather hair clippings from the salon or when you cut someone’s hair and apply talc powder in it then shove into mouse holes or mole holes. It becomes an itchy irritant and helps deter them.
As for snakes, keep the area free of leaves and other hiding places. Some snakes like berry patches also. Be on guard if you have a large population of frogs. One year we had an explosion of frogs and had 4 cotton mouths where we normally only had ribbon or garden snakes.

53 jenny { 04.08.15 at 8:22 pm }

Any natural way to get rid of moles?

54 Sophia { 04.08.15 at 7:57 pm }

“Discourage bigger pests such as a cat or dog from entering flower or garden beds by erecting lots of thin sticks or plastic forks in the ground among the seed beds, and surrounding young, tender plant starts. This leaves no room for animals to dig or disturb the plants, helping them get a good start.” – seriously?!

55 Ali { 04.08.15 at 6:13 pm }

As great as diatomaceous earth is… be careful with it in the garden as it will kill bees and lady bugs.

56 William J { 04.08.15 at 3:57 pm }

Our home fronts on a fresh water lake and we are pestered with Geese 3 seasons eating our lawn and leaving massive amounts of droppings. Seems we’ve tried most practical methods of keeping these pests away, but to no avail. Really could use some helpful ideas?

57 Leita Hill { 04.08.15 at 3:49 pm }

Pat Chace, I think the reference to lime is the mineral, not the fruit. I have also heard you can add to the soil when transplanting tomatoes to prevent bottom rot.

58 CLRAE { 04.08.15 at 1:55 pm }

I have mostly flowers in my yard–I seem to have snails and slugs everywhere. I have tried all suggested methods of getting rid of them. None work very well–however a hand sprayer with 1/4 or 1/3 amonia–and rest fill with water. Go out early in the morning and squirt them.It seems to work–but you have to keep doing the spraying. (Get the amonia at a “dollar store”)

59 Karen { 04.08.15 at 12:43 pm }

Christine, I was overrun with pesky chipmunks the last two years. They dug tunnels and holes everywhere. I went to Lowes to buy something to get rid of them and one of the workers there told me the best thing was to get a cat. I immediately went and got one about two years old. She catches them and sometimes leaves them on the porch as a gift for me. The good news is that this year I haven’t seen one chipmunk.

60 Anita { 04.08.15 at 12:40 pm }

When I don’t have fire ant killer (red ants) I’ve mixed mounds and they seem to fight each other and the mounds die

61 Cathy { 04.08.15 at 12:35 pm }

We live on a creek and learned (the hard way!) that the raccoons dig up all plants planted w/blood meal. Keep in mind some potting soils have blood meal as an ingredient.
Happy Gardening!

62 Ron Demlow { 04.08.15 at 12:15 pm }

Any suggestions for deterring groundhogs?

63 julia a { 04.08.15 at 12:08 pm }

carole { 04.08.15 at 10:59 am }

RE: I have problems with snails and slugs. I have tried beer and the darn slugs and snails don’t drown they just get drunk and come back later for more beer. I also have dogs so would like to have something to kill the snails and slugs that won’t hurt my dogs. thank you

HI Carol. Try using crushed egg shells scattered around the base of the plant….slugs and snails do not like to crawl over this kind of surface and therefore cannot climb the plant.

good luck.

64 thea { 04.08.15 at 11:41 am }

I use grits, like the kind we eat, to get rid of ant hills.

65 Thomas Hood { 04.08.15 at 11:28 am }

> Babs Utley: Is there anything natural to use against nematodes?

In small raised beds (tire gardening) I have had good results with a heavy application of wood ashes.

66 Babs Utley { 04.08.15 at 11:03 am }

Is there anything natural tu use against nematodes? The lime is garden lime, not the fruit. Martinhouse gourd plants deter snakes as snakes hate the smell of the vine.

67 carole { 04.08.15 at 10:59 am }

I have problems with snails and slugs. I have tried beer and the darn slugs and snails don’t drown they just get drunk and come back later for more beer. I also have dogs so would like to have something to kill the snails and slugs that won’t hurt my dogs. thank you

68 Connie McElfresh { 04.08.15 at 10:41 am }

Would like a natural way to get rid of Red Ants here in Florida!!!!!!


69 Judy Paul { 04.08.15 at 10:37 am }

How can I prevent squirrels from digging up all my flower bulbs.

70 Pat Chace { 04.08.15 at 10:06 am }

We have had on occasions an armadillo digging large holes near the foundation of the house. Is there anything you can recommend to rid of them? The holes are quite large and deep.

71 Pat Chace { 04.08.15 at 10:02 am }

You mentioned a lime stripe along the garden perimeter to deter or raccoons ,skunks, snakes etc. Did you mean juice or the lime fruit as a whole?

72 Linda Woodruff { 04.08.15 at 9:52 am }

I am very allegic to bites from gnats. Is there anything I can do to keep them away from my my landscaping and garden? Gardening is my favorite hobby.

73 stephen rupiya { 04.08.15 at 9:50 am }

can any one explain to me how urine from rabbits help to control pests on plants?

74 Christine { 04.08.15 at 9:47 am }

advice for chipmunks and any other tips for snakes please??

75 Debra { 04.08.15 at 9:39 am }

What are blackberry canes? We have big mole problems and I’d love to hear of ways to get rid of them (if that’s a possibility).

76 mike { 04.06.15 at 7:17 pm }

10 % milk to water will kill spider mites , and enhance you foliage on most plants .

put two dried blackberry canes tied near one end , in opposite pointing directions in mole holes ,

they are hemophiliacs and no more moles

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