Pests are a natural element in every lawn and garden, but that doesn’t mean you want them munching on your leaves. Artificial and chemical pesticides may be effective, but they can get into the food chain and local water courses.
If you’re looking for a natural pest control, there are several remedies that are safe for your family and the environment and will help you get rid of the destructive insects while maintaining a natural balance in your garden.
Plus, they’re probably more affordable than chemical alternatives.
Garden pest control should be tailored to the specific bugs you are having trouble with. Widespread application of any insecticide, even a natural one, can damage your plants and kill off the good insects that help get rid of the others. Check out these natural pest controls to help keep your plants and family healthy…
Traps And Barriers
While handpicking insects may be the most effective way to get rid of them, it’s time consuming and exhausting. Rather than spend hours combing your leaves for slugs or other bugs, consider garden pest controls like barriers and traps.
Barriers like dichotomous earth, ash or the mineral Borax are difficult for bugs to crawl over, and it damages the ones who do. Spread them around the base of your plants or even on the edge of your flower bed. As with any natural insecticide, be careful not to breathe in dust as you apply and wear gloves to be safe.
Set up beer or shade traps for slugs. Beer traps are a great way to get rid of slugs and the after-party dregs. Dig a surface-level hole in your flower bed and place a small compostable cup of beer inside. Slugs are attracted to the beer, crawl inside and suffocate in the alcohol. You can also set up a shade trap with a propped up flower pot. Slugs crawl under in the heat of the day and you can trap and remove them later.
Natural Insecticide Sprays
As mentioned above, natural pest control should be targeted toward specific insects and sprayed only when your pest problem is getting out of control. Natural, insecticidal soap sprays made with water and Ivory® soap or Murphy® Oil Soap help get rid of aphids, mites and mealybugs.
Other concoctions include baking soda and water to help kill fungus or milk and water for powdery mildew. If you have a broader pest problem, there is one catch-all natural insecticide spray. Mix ½ cup chopped hot red peppers with 2 cups water and a little natural dish soap (garlic can also be added) and spray around the yard.
You can also sprinkle chili powder or cayenne pepper at the base of your plants. This method can kill the good insects too, so it should be used sparingly. If you’re looking for something stronger than you can make at home, there are many green websites that sell specially targeted, natural insecticides.
Proper Lawn Maintenance
Plant to attract good insects, like ladybugs and praying mantis, and repel those you don’t want around (mosquitos and flies can be repelled by garlic, lemongrass, mint or basil, for example). A diverse garden will help reduce your pest problem.
Mowing frequently at the proper height will help improve the quality of your lawn and the level of nutrients in the soil. A healthy lawn has the proper balance of bacteria, including some like Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT), which naturally occurs at low levels in the soil and kills pests.