One of the most frustrating things about having a garden are the pests that you will encounter. You cannot be a gardener without having to deal with some of these at some point in your journey. Look below to see the five common garden pests and how you can manage each of them.
I would encourage eco-friendly options when possible, including attempting to plant things that are hardy and in the right spot to avoid bugs, but sometimes more harsh chemicals are the only option that will work.
Healthier plants will have an easier time fighting off most pests from your garden.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs are pests that can cause a lot of damage to your garden in a very short period of time, especially if you have many of them. They will look for soft leaves and stalks in the garden so are particularly damaging in the vegetable garden where they can eat through swaths of your vegetables overnight before you even know they are there.
As you might expect from their sticky texture, slugs prefer a humid and moist environment in order to thrive. You will find them thriving in overgrown areas or places where they can happily hide underneath old wood boards and rocks.
You can manage slugs by keeping moisture under control around your plants as well as placing things like broken egg shells and diatomaceous earth around your plants. Setting traps is also a great way to keep this common garden pest population down in your garden. An easy slug trap is to set out a shallow plate of beer and wait for the slugs to go to it and drown; simply clean it out the next morning and set another clean trap.
Aphids top the list of one of the most common garden pests that gardeners will encounter. They are small, light green colored (although they do come in different colors), soft bodied insects and you can often find them near a patch of bubbly sap like substance called “honeydew” that they produce on the plant after getting into the plant sap. Aphids can cause curling, yellowing, or misshapen leaves on many different kinds of plants.
Generally they are not hard to control if you notice them early on as despite the fact that they multiply rapidly, they are fairly slow moving. Although they are small they are usually in large groups so you shouldn’t have a hard time seeing them on your plants.
Control aphids by removing them with a strong spray of water, or using neem oil or insecticidal soap directly onto the insects. You can also make your own spray using water and a few drops of dish soap to spray onto the aphids where you see them.
Ants aren’t typically considered a pest for any of your plants, they are usually more of a nuisance to the people in your household. In fact, ants can be helpful to some plants in your garden such as peonies as they are attracted to the sticky substance on the new blooms and will help them to open.
Some larger ants can cause damage to your home, so it is important if these are present in your area, to discuss this problem with a pest management company.
Small ants can be kept away from your home with diatomaceous earth or other repellent products you can find at your local garden center. Overall, I wouldn’t worry too much about getting rid of ants that are in your garden.
There are many different species of cutworms, but one thing they all have in common is their ability to destroy your new seedlings as soon as you put them in your garden beds. They will get into both raised and in ground garden beds so your raised bed will not provide protection from this pest. These are a terrible garden pest to encounter.
Cutworms get their name because they cut down young plants while they wrap around the stem of the plant. Some types of cutworms can climb and will feed on the foliage and buds of plants causing lots of damage.
The easiest and most effective way to deal with cutworms is to physically remove them and destroy them, thus keeping them from continuing to eat your plants. Keeping the soil dry around your plants, and placing something like aluminum foil or cardboard rings around plants will help prevent the cutworm from reaching your young plants.
If you would like to learn more about cutworms, check out this page from Planet Natural for more in depth information.
Depending on where you live, larger animals can cause havoc on both your flower and vegetable beds. Moose, deer, skunks, raccoons, you name it, they will all happily feast on the fresh foliage and goodies in your garden..
The simplest (but possibly most cost prohibitive) way to keep these animals out of your garden is to build a tall enough fence to keep them out, but keep in mind that deer have no problem jumping over a fence if they are motivated enough.
There are mechanical options such as noise makers and flashing lights that can help keep animals away as well.
Certain plants can be a deterrent to deer or other garden eaters, but it can be difficult to design a garden that is entirely made up of these plants so your best bet is to look for a physical barrier to keep these animals out of your garden.