Garden Pest and Critter Control

Garden Pest and Critter Control

Slugs, squirrels, and deer, oh my! What to do when your beautiful garden bounty is under siege?!

Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, insects, and other pests all love to snack on a big beautiful garden and can destroy a carefully tended garden in the blink of an eye. There are many ways to protect your garden, but here are several of our tested and approved methods.

Insects can be deterred using homemade insecticides, which sound scary, but are all-natural and effective!

  • Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap can be diluted into a spray bottle at 1 teaspoon per quart of water. Gently spray this into the tops and bottoms of leaves and reapply every 2-5 days as needed, especially if it rains after application. 
  • Neem Oil Extract is derived from the seeds of the Neem tree and contains a natural pesticide that has a bitter taste and foul smell to insects. Dilute 1 tablespoon of extract into 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and invert several times to mix. Gently spray the tops and bottoms of leaves and reapply every 7-14 days.
  • For extra punch, add 1 tsp minced garlic, garlic powder, or cayenne pepper powder to the spray bottle.

Aphids are tiny and nasty green, brown, or peach colored nuisance insects that suck the sap from plants and leave behind a shiny honeydew residue. They can also multiply incredibly fast-- before you know it you’ll be hosting an entire colony on the underside of your plant foliage! In addition to the homemade insecticides above, try this hack:

  • Buy a stack of yellow plastic party cups and a container of petroleum jelly. Smear a thick layer onto the outside and bottom of the cups and place them upsidedown near the affected plants. The insects will be attracted to the yellow color and then get stuck in the thick goo.

Slugs secrete a pretty disgusting mucous and can be a real pain in the garden, luckily they’re pretty easy to eradicate.

  • Crack a beer, drink half and pour the other half into a low dish placed in your garden. If possible, bury the bottom of the container so just the lip is above the soil surface. The slugs will seek out the sugars in the beer and meet their end. You may need to repeat this process a few times… of course with fresh beer every time.

Japanese Beetles can be found throughout the East Coast and if you find one, you can bet there are 10,000 more in your garden!

  • Immediate head to your nearest home and garden center or hardware store and purchase a Japanese Beetle trap immediately-- they work by releasing a pheromone into the air that attracts the beetles and lures them into a bag they can’t escape from. Make sure you’re placing the trap downwind from your garden or the beetles will be lured directly to your plants!

Squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits all love tasty seeds and seedlings, and will repeatedly return for more helpings. 

  • The cutest method of deterring little mammals from entering your garden is to get a guard dog-- the more tenacious, the better! The presence of a pet can intimidate pests from attempting to invade your garden for a snack.
  • Sprinkle a liberal application of cayenne powder throughout your garden. It isn't harmful but will leave them with a bad taste in their mouths they won't want to repeat.
  • Mix a spray bottle of vinegar diluted with water and spray it around your garden bed, you can also mix in cayenne pepper powder, chili powder, or garlic powder. If necessary this mixture can also be sprayed directly onto leaves. 
  • If possible, elevate container gardens off the ground onto patio tables or plant stands to avoid critter disruption. 
  • Daffodils, hyacinths, and alliums are flowers that can be companion planted in your garden for beautiful squirrel deterrents as they dislike like them.
  • If you are truly desperate, you can set mouse traps around your gardens. Just remember where you placed them!

Deer pose a larger problem because they can clear-cut a big beautiful garden with ninja-like stealth and speed.

  • String up bright, flashy moving objects like disposable aluminum pie pans or metallic colored pinwheels to scare them from your garden area.
  • Erect physical barriers like chicken wire or wood fencing.
  • Stringing up fishing line in a perimeter around your garden is also helpful because deer are terrible at navigating invisible lines. 
  • Plant marigolds as companion plants for your garden because not only are they beautiful, but deer hate the smell!
  • If you are truly desperate to ward off these gentle but voracious herbivores, purchase coyote urine crystals online or from a local hardware store and sprinkle them around the perimeter of your garden. The scent will scare off deer and other pests. 

Birds and Moths can wreak havoc from the skies. Birds can pick off ripe fruit and foliage and moths can eat holes in leaves and deposit larvae which will rapidly grow and munch!

  • A fine, light mesh netting tossed over your garden will prevent winged creatures from landing in your garden, while also allowing direct sunlight through. Note that you are growing fruiting plants such as zucchini or tomatoes, the blossoms will need to be hand-pollinated to ensure fruiting as natural pollinators like bees and hummingbirds will not be able to access the flowers that develop.

Check out the video below for demonstrations of some of our easiest, most trusted pest control methods!

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