From bugs and insects to rabbits and squirrels, and everything in between, it can sometimes feel as if you’re fighting a losing battle when it comes to keeping your garden thriving. Although there are many different types of pest repellents available, including store bought sprays and pellets, are these really the best options for your garden? Maybe not. In fact, many people are now turning to homemade solutions.
Why? It’s simple: safety. Unfortunately, a lot of store bought repellents contain harsh chemicals which can pose a risk not only to our own health, but to the overall wellbeing of local wildlife, too. While garden pests can certainly be a nuisance, we have to remember that there are many beneficial species in the garden that can actually be good for our plants and crops. Bees are needed for pollination, birds for weed control…. and your neighbor probably wouldn’t be too happy if you poisoned poor little Mittens.
The good news is that it’s easy to whip up some safe, natural alternatives that can be just as effective as the chemically-laden repellents on the shelves. Here’s 10 ideas to give your garden a fighting chance:
1. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Lemon eucalyptus is made up of 85 percent citronellal, which is not only considered to be a great DIY mosquito repellent, but is also famous for its antifungal properties, too. It’s believed that the fresh, lemony smell naturally repels harmful bugs and other insects, helping to keep the garden looking great.
2. Spice Blends
Research shows that clove can actually get rid of berry bugs, or ‘chiggers’, from the garden. And it’s not just cloves; garden bugs detest many types of common warming spices, including cayenne pepper and cinnamon, so sprinkling a spice blend around your plants may be just what you need to get the job done.
3. Citrus Oil
Cats are well known for their hatred of citrus smells, like the smells of oranges, lemons, and limes, so scattering some citrus peel around your garden is a great way to deter the neighborhood cats from coming by. It may be best to add a few drops of oil onto the peel for a stronger, longer lasting aroma.
4. Lavender Oil
When diluted to 30%, studies have found that lavender is effective as a repellent. There’s two ways to make up a lavender concoction for your pests: firstly, add a few drops of lavender oil to a spray bottle with water, or you could add dried lavender instead. Both work well, so pick the method that suits you.
5. Soapy water
Soapy water has long been used to deter bugs from rose bushes, and this natural method works great for many soft-bodied pests such as aphids and whiteflies. Unfortunately, it’s not too good at deterring hard-bodied bugs, like beetles. Insecticidal soaps work best, but a regular dishwashing soap is also fine.
6. Neem Oil
Neem oil is so effective against mosquitos that not only can an oil mix be used in the garden, it can also be used on the skin, too. In fact, a mix of neem oil and coconut oil is often used as a mosquito repellent in the tribal villages of Mandla District in India, where it’s believed to offer up to 90% protection.
7. Herbal Mixes
Mosquitos and other flying insects may also be deterred from your garden through the use of common herbs. Mint and basil are two of the most effective, but any sorts of green, leafy herbs are believed to be good, natural repellents. Try wrapping some dried herbs in a cheesecloth and hanging in your garden.
8. Coconut Oil & Vinegar
If you’re having trouble with arachnids, a mix of coconut oil and white vinegar is understood to be very effective at shooing these spiders away. This blend can also be used in the home to get rid of spiders, but remember that coconut oil may stain, so always test in an inconspicuous area of the home first.
9. Salt Water
Salt is dehydrating, and a salt water solution sprayed onto plants and flowers can help to reduce the numbers of small pests that frequent these plants. The good news is that salt in small quantities shouldn’t pose much of a risk to larger animals, such as cats, dogs, squirrels, and rabbits, for example.
10. Chrysanthemum Flower Tea
Chrysanthemum flowers contain pyrethrins, which are natural, organic compounds that have been found to have powerful pesticide qualities while still having remarkably low general toxicity. For best results, steep the dried flowers in boiling water before transferring both flowers and water to a spray bottle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that chemically-laden pesticides can have a number of health risks, including risks to the skin, eyes, and nervous system. It’s also believed that pesticides could contribute towards the development of some kinds of cancer, too. For our own safety, and the safety of the local wildlife, it’s better to try out some natural alternatives that are safe yet effective.
About the author: Nikki Thomas is co-founder and blogger for Backyardville. As a work-at-home mom, she enjoys spending time in the backyard with her 2 children while simultaneously providing fun and educational outdoor activities for them. Nikki uses her personal experiences and passion for the outdoors to compose informative articles that help the readers of Backyardville discover practical and enjoyable ways to utilize their own backyard. Image: Scot Nelson.