Pest control is one of the most challenging things about gardening, but chemicals are not the answer. It’s safer, and much easier to work with nature using natural pest control remedies to help you fight the pests in your garden. In this post, I will give you tons of natural garden pest control methods and tips to try in your garden.
Ok, I know, I know… when these bad bugs invade your gardens (and do their best to destroy your beautiful flowers and vegetables), it’s tempting to reach for chemical pesticides to save your precious plants.
But working with nature instead of against it is always going to be the easiest and best solution when it comes to gardening (whether it be for natural garden pest control, weed control, or feeding your plants).
And, as it turns out, being an organic gardener really isn’t that difficult. Who knew?
The Problem With Chemical Pesticides
Let’s face it, chemical pesticides give us instant gratification when it comes to killing nasty bugs. No doubt about that. But synthetic chemical pesticides cause major long-term damage to the health of our gardens (and to us, and to the environment…ack!).
Pesticides don’t discriminate, they will kill the good garden bugs right along with the bad ones. Spraying your yard and garden with chemical pesticides is the worst thing you could do.
Even worse, some pest insects are resistant to chemical pesticides, and they recover much faster from chemical treatments than beneficial insects do.
So, essentially what we’re doing by spraying chemical pesticides is killing the good bugs, and helping out the bad bugs – throwing off the natural balance of the garden, and creating a much worse problem for ourselves in the future.
Sounds pretty horrible, right? It is!
It’s best to use natural pest control remedies that will target the pest insects, without harming other insects in the process. When we do that, we are working with nature instead of against it.
I don’t know about you, but that not only sounds more natural, but WAY easier to me!
Natural Remedies For Pests In The Garden
There are several ways to fight insect pests naturally without using harmful chemical pesticides. Below is a list of organic pesticides and natural pest control remedies that I use in my garden, and have had great success with!
Neem Organic Pesticide Spray
Neem oil is made from the seeds of the Indian Neem tree. It is one of the most common organic pest control products on the market. It’s easy to use, plus it has a residual effect that deters the bad bugs from coming back. Horticultural oil also works really well to fight bad bugs in the garden.
Be very careful using neem oil spray for plants in your garden though because it can also kill good bugs like bees that come to pollinate your plants. So I only recommend using this on plants that aren’t flowering. Read more about how neem oil insecticide works here.
Protect Plants From Bugs And Animals
Physical barriers work great as a form of preventive pest control. I like to use row covers on my squash plants when they are young to help control squash borer infestations, and have also used it to prevent caterpillars from attacking my cole crops (like kale, cabbage and broccoli). I’ve also successfully used inexpensive tulle fabric as DIY row covers to protect plants from insects and birds.
Physical barriers also work to keep animals out of the garden. I use 3′ garden fencing to keep rabbits out of my vegetable garden, and chicken wire to protect other plants around the yard as needed. You could try deer netting or use a taller fencing if you have problems with deer.
Non-Toxic Pest Control Traps
There are pheromone traps on the market to capture all kinds of pest insects. I like to use the Japanese beetle traps to catch as many of those buggers as I can during the summer. You can also find traps for stink bugs and other pest insects.
Hand Picking Bugs In The Garden
One of the best organic pest management methods for controlling larger insects like Japanese beetles, tomato hornworms, squash bugs, slugs and grapevine beetles is to pick them off the plant and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Sounds gross I know, but wearing gloves (and enlisting the help of the hubby) makes it much easier!
Make Your Own Homemade Garden Bug Spray
Soap will quickly kill most insects on contact, and it’s easy to make your homemade insect spray. Then you can use it to target the pest insect without harming any good bugs in the process. See my recipe below to make your own homemade bug spray for plants. If you don’t want to mix your own, you can buy a pre-made organic insecticidal soap to use instead. Spray it directly on the pest insect to kill it (these soapy water sprays work really great for boxelder bugs too!).
Plants For Pest Control In The Garden
Some plants actually work as natural garden pest repellents. Many people use a technique called companion planting where they use plants and flowers for garden pest control. Think of strong smelling aromatic plants like garlic, onions, marigolds and herbs. If you want to give this method a try in your garden, learn more about the basics of companion planting in this post.
Attract Beneficial Insects To Help With Garden Bug Control
Talk about letting nature take its course! One of the best natural pest control remedies you can use in your garden is to let nature do the work for you! What’s better than enlisting the help of natural predators, like ladybugs, wasps, nematodes and praying mantids to fight the battle for us? Be sure to plant plenty of flowering annuals, native plants and herbs in your gardens to attract and support these amazing natural predators.
Organic Pest Repellent Sprays For Animals
There are also natural pest control remedies on the market for our furry friends (ehem, nemesis). I’ve tried organic pest control sprays made with plant oils to help deter squirrels and also for rodents in my garden (these plant oil sprays smell delicious too!).
This natural garden pest spray works to repel lots of different kinds of animal pests. If deer are your biggest problem, then you could try this deer repellent spray. And, if you have both rabbits and deer (sorry!), then this is a good repellent spray you can try that works on both of them. Hot pepper spray can work to repel animals from feeding on your plants.
Diatomaceous Earth Pest Control Powder
Diatomaceous earth is another great natural insect pest control product! Sprinkle it directly on pest insects like Japanese beetles and other hard shelled insects to kill them. This organic bug killer can also be used to on pests like slugs and snails. Take care when using diatomaceous earth in your garden, and don’t do any broad applications of it because it can kill good bugs too.
Natural Pest Control Remedies Shared By Readers
I can’t recommend these yet because I haven’t tried them. But here are a few things I’ve heard about lately that I’m going to experiment with in my garden this year. I’ll let you know how they work out!
- Baking soda & flower to kill cabbage worms – I’ve read that using equal parts flour and baking soda will kill cabbage worms. I’m totally going to try it this year, and let you know if it works or not.
- Hydrogen peroxide to kill squash borers – One of my amazing readers suggested this – Try injecting hydrogen peroxide into the stem of squash to kill the squash borer. Yep, I’m totally going to experiment with this – for sure!!
- Hair to deter furry pests – Human and pet hair are supposed to deter rabbits and other furry animals from the garden, because they smell a predator nearby. I have cats, and THIS will motivate me to brush my cats on a regular basis. Haha!
My DIY Natural Garden Pest Control Recipes
Now you’re probably wondering how to make organic pesticide sprays. Well you’re in luck because I have a few natural pest control recipes that I use all the time, and they work great! Here are my favorite homemade organic pest control recipes…
Neem oil and soap insecticide spray recipe – This neem oil pesticide spray kills bugs on garden plants, and also works as a natural pest deterrent.
- 1 1/2 tsp of concentrated neem oil
- 1 tsp organic liquid soap
- 1 liter water
Directions: Mix all ingredients into a garden plant sprayer or a spray bottle and shake to mix well. Spray on the leaves of plants and directly on pest insects. Shake well before each use.
Simple organic bug spray for plants – The liquid soap in this super easy DIY natural bug killer spray recipe kills pest insects on contact. Some types of soaps can harm plants though, so be sure to use a mild liquid soap rather than one that contains chemicals like degreasers.
- 1 tsp organic liquid soap
- 1 liter of water
Directions: Mix up a batch of this simple homemade bug killer in a clean spray bottle, or make a double batch to use in your garden plant sprayer, then spray it directly on bugs to kill them.
Natural Organic Pest Control Recipes From Readers
I LOVE it when readers share their recipes for all natural pest control remedies with me… but I like to test them out before I recommend them to you. Here are a couple of recipes that readers have shared with me that I’m going to try this summer (you can try them too, and we can compare notes!!).
- Marigold, hot pepper and garlic insecticide spray – “Chop marigold leaves and mix in a bucket with a few garlic bulbs (chopped) and some crushed chillies. Add a sprinkle of baking powder and wood ash, and a small chunk of soap, mix it up, cover with water and then add a lid and leave for 4 days.”
- Hot pepper organic pest spray – “Try mixing 1 gallon of water and 3 tablespoons of hot pepper flakes or 10 peppers chopped up finely if you’re using fresh peppers (cayenne works the best but other varieties work as well). Simmer ingredients in a pan for 15 minutes and then let it sit for 24 hours before straining. Add a couple drops of dish soap to help the solution adhere to your plants.”
- Mint and garlic spray for garden pests: “Take some mint leaves and garlic cloves and blend them in a food processor, then add a bit of cayenne pepper and a drop of dishwashing liquid. Bring the whole concoction to a boil and let sit overnight. Strain it into a spray bottle.”
Whew! So many amazing options for all natural garden pest control that we can all try! LOVE it!
Precautions About Using Natural Pesticides For Plants
Natural pest control remedies are no doubt healthier for us and the environment – BUT please, please make sure to use them with caution. They are still pesticides after all, and can kill beneficial bees and bugs just like they can kill the bad bugs.
So don’t use these natural pest control remedies carelessly. Always make sure to focus your efforts on the specific pest you’re trying to control, and never do any broad spraying of any type of pesticides in your garden to keep from harming the good bugs.
Also, no matter what type of garden pest control products you decide to use, always, always, always test them on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant! I can’t tell you how many people have asking me to help save their plants because the homemade spray recipe they got somewhere caused major damage to the plant. So, spray a few leaves, let it sit for a few days. Then if there’s no sign of damage, it’s safe to spray the whole plant. Every plant is different too, so what doesn’t damage one plant could damage another.
Keep in mind that complete elimination of pesky bugs in the garden isn’t a realistic goal. The key is to find a balance so that your plants will thrive despite having a few bugs munching on them.
Mature, healthy plants can handle a minor pest problem; and with a healthy population of natural predators on your side, nature will eventually take it’s course. If you stick to using a combination of these natural pest control remedies and recipes in your garden, pest management will become easy!