Gardening is a highly enjoyable and engaging hobby that is suitable for people of all ages. It keeps you active and encourages you to venture outside into the fresh air and sunlight.
However, there is one major thing that makes gardening more difficult than it needs to be – pests. Garden pests are a common annoyance that many gardeners face. They present various challenges and can cause damage to your plants.
Rodents, insects, and birds can leave droppings on your plants, chew through leaves, and trample your shrubs. As a result, your garden can look worse for wear, and plants may even die as a result of pest-induced damage.
Taking pest prevention steps ensures your garden looks as good as it can and your plants remain healthy throughout the entire year. There are lots of strategies you can adopt to control the pest levels in your garden and get rid of unwanted insects, rodents, and birds quickly before they cause irreversible damage to your garden.
Below, we’ve covered the most common garden pests and effective pest control methods you can use to protect your plants. Note that you will also need to monitor soil temperature and test soil pH to ensure your plants have the optimal environment for growth.
Although minuscule, aphids can be detrimental to plants. They suck the sap out of plants, causing the leaves to become distorted and curl at the edges.
Aphids can reproduce at a rapid rate, making them one of the more difficult pests to control. However, with the right steps, you can free your garden of these tiny pests and keep your plants healthy.
The best method to control aphids is to introduce predatory species, such as ladybirds, that will eat the aphids and manage the problem for you. You can also use insecticidal soap that will kill soft-bodied insects, such as aphids if they come into direct contact with the soap.
As cute as they may look, caterpillars can be a nuisance for gardeners. Caterpillars chew plant leaves, causing aesthetic defects and physical damage.
If you have the time, you can remove caterpillars by hand whenever you spot them. However, if you’d prefer a quicker and less laborious method, you can spray organic pesticides and insecticides on your plants to kill caterpillars before they can cause extensive damage to your garden. Wasps are also a great way to manage the number of caterpillars in your garden, as they are natural predators.
Snails and Slugs
Slugs secrete pellets that contain a compound called metaldehyde, which can poison pets and other wildlife if they eat these pellets or dead snails and slugs. However, even if you don’t have any pets, you’ll still want to control the levels of these pests in your garden.
Snails and slugs can eat several times their body weight in a single sitting, making them deadly for plants. They enjoy chewing on plant debris, leaves, and grass, leaving your garden looking worse for wear and potentially interrupting your plant’s ability to photosynthesize.
Thankfully, there are a lot of effective ways to get rid of snails and slugs, including using:
- Organic slug pellets, which contain iron phosphate instead of metaldehyde
- Coffee beans or ground coffee to deter them from your plants
- Copper tape to act as a barrier to your plants
- Snail and slug repellent spray
- Nematodes, which act as natural predators of snails and slugs
Whiteflies are very small but mighty insects. They feed on plant sap and excrete honeydew, which is a sticky substance that can cause your plant’s leaves to wilt.
Although whiteflies are difficult to spot due to their tiny size, you can identify a whitefly infestation by searching for signs of stunted leaf growth or yellowing leaves.
It can be pretty tough, if not impossible, to completely eliminate whiteflies from your garden. However, you can use insecticide soaps, insecticides, natural oils (such as neem oil), and reflective mulches to reduce the number of whiteflies in your garden.
The Japanese beetle has a characteristic and unmissable metallic green and bronze appearance. They can damage plants at the roots, leaves, and flowers when they feed.
Thankfully, there are lots of simple ways to get rid of Japanese beetles from your garden to protect your plants, including natural methods like catnip, garlic, and chives. You can also use repellant sprays, pheromone traps, and pesticides or handpick them from your plants whenever you spot them.