How to Defend Your Garden From Common Pests
Your backyard garden may be home to beautiful flowers and fruit and vegetable plants. While it makes your view colorful and produces some homegrown food, a flourishing garden may also attract pests and critters you don’t want around. Small animals, annoying bugs and even deer may pay a visit if your garden looks like a good meal.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help keep common garden pests away from both your flowers and produce.
Flower gardens are often a major part of a landscaped yard. But, according to the University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science (UVM), flowering plants can also be part of a delicious meal for small animals such as squirrels, mice, rabbits, chipmunks and deer.
If any of these animals have made their way into your flower bed, you might want to take some pest control measures. According to UVM, this may include one or any of the following tactics:
- Bulb cage: To help protect tulips and other plants that grow from bulbs, wrap chicken wire around the plant to help keep critters away and potentially deter them from coming back.
- Fence: Installing fencing around your flower bed may be an effective way to keep animals out. Place chicken wire or hardware cloth around the perimeter and extend about 3 feet high as well as several inches below ground to help prevent tunneling animals from getting past it. To help protect your garden from deer, the fence should be 8 to 10 feet tall and made of woven wire mesh.
- Taste/scent bottles: Some animals can be deterred by certain odors or tastes. Mother Earth Living suggests filling small, plastic bottles halfway with ammonia and placing them around the garden to help deter animals.
- Traps: Live traps may help you capture small animals and set them free away from your home. Check your local laws, though; some areas do not allow relocation of wild animals.
Fruit and Vegetable Gardens
Some of the tactics above may also help keep critters away from your fruit and vegetable plants. However, additional steps may help better protect your crops. The Humane Society of the United States says food gardens should be checked daily so any fruits or vegetables that are ripe can be removed before animals find them. According to Farmers’ Almanac, wildlife that take a liking to produce include raccoons, blackbirds, blue jays and skunks.
To help keep animals at bay, the Humane Society suggests bordering your crop garden with plants animals don’t like. HGTV says aromatic herbs, mint, basil, fennel and lemongrass are all natural deterrents for animals. The Farmer’s Almanac offers these additional suggestions for protecting your fruit and vegetable plants:
- Capsaicin spray: Coat the plants and growing vegetables with a homemade or purchased capsaicin spray. Capsaicin is what makes peppers hot, and is a deterrent for animals such as raccoons, opossums, skunks and deer. Be sure to reapply after rain or watering and to wash vegetables well before consuming.
- A variety of deterrents: Scarecrows are commonly used to keep birds away from crops, but many birds will get used to them quickly, making them ineffective. If you switch out deterrents once a month, birds may get confused and, potentially, be scared away. Farmers’ Almanac says common and effective deterrents include fake owls and shiny Mylar balloons tied to posts around your garden.
- Bacillus thuringiensis: Commercial insecticides containing bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can help keep your fruits and vegetables safe from insects. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Innovation, Bt is a natural bacterium that acts as an environmentally-friendly pesticide and is considered safe for humans.
- Netting: Nylon netting can be placed on fruit plants to keep birds away. To keep animals from getting under the netting, fasten it to the bottom of the plant.
As an additional tip for your fruit and vegetable garden, Better Homes and Gardens recommends moving your plants around each year. There are a variety of disease-causing organisms that live underneath plants and multiply, and regularly changing the location of those plants will disrupt their home.
Whether you’re growing a flower garden or vegetable garden, pest control is often a key to its success. If your plants are being nibbled by unwelcome critters, consider these tips to help keep your garden safe.