Fight Garden Pests: What To Look For & How To Get Rid Of Them

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Trying to grow and maintain the perfect garden is enough work without having to worry about the presence of annoying pests. The last thing you want to find when you peer out over your blossoming garden is that it's been destroyed by all sorts of animals. While it may seem to be almost unmanageable, controlling the pest nuisance in your garden is within your reach. Take a moment to find out what inhabits your garden, and what measures you can take to deter them.

The most common types of garden pests

We've all seen the movies where the stubborn gopher tears a path of destruction through the dedicated green thumb's flower bed, but what should we really be looking out for? Regardless of your location, type of vegetation, and even climate, several of the tiniest pests will nestle their way into your garden box. Four types of pest are most likely to be found nibbling on your garden:

  • Insects
  • Birds
  • Small mammals (rodents)
  • Large mammals (domestic and wild)
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Determine the type of intruder you're seeing in your garden by checking the size and shape of the bite, inspecting the soil for holes and burrows, and surveying the surrounding area for tracks. Although they can cause a larger problem, birds and mammals are more noticeable, and therefore more easily controlled. Insects, however, can pose a much greater threat to your garden due to their size, number, and appetite, so you must ensure that you maintain a completely protected garden at all times. There are some insects and pests whose presence is beneficial to your garden, including:

  • Lacewings
  • Ladybugs
  • Praying Mantises
  • Nematodes

These type of creatures may actually be protecting your garden from more harmful animals.

Installing the right type of fence

Regardless of whether or not you choose to do the bulk of your gardening in your front yard, backyard, or in a small side yard, your designated area should almost always be enclosed. There are several types of fences you can install for protection, including:

  • Wood fence
  • Chain-link fence
  • Barbed wire
  • Electric fence
  • Insect nets

Once you've determined what kind of unwelcome guests have been intruding on your space, you can invest in one or more of the fences above. A surrounding wood or chain-link fence is a great first step to preventing the appearance of large domestic and wild animals. Barbed wire can help in discouraging smaller rodents depending on the size and type of garden you maintain. If you notice that the problem is growing wildly out of hand, you can look into an electric fence. They will be much pricier than the alternative, but most home and garden centers sell an option that is both affordable and safe to use (won't kill, but will dissuade). If your problem lies mostly with insects, nets can be used to cover your plants. Insect nets can be thrown over the endangered area and pulled off at any time. Make sure you purchase a net with tight enough webbing to keep out even the smallest insects.

Looking into natural and chemical protection

Before you begin using natural and chemical protection for your garden's safety, make sure that you've successfully hidden trashcans and compost bins away from your vegetation. These things often attract a much wider pest audience to your garden. You can protect your garden against pests using homemade remedies or store bought sprays and pesticides. Again, identifying the type of pest should be your first concern. Once you know what you're dealing with you are better suited to arm yourself with the proper types of defense. Natural prevention can be created with the mixture of common household items, including:

  • Baking soda
  • Soap
  • Cooking oil

There are several books on the market that will help you create your natural remedy at home. If you think your pest control problem requires a more manufactured prevention you can invest in:

  • Pesticides
  • Bug spray
  • Repellent

Make sure that whatever type of chemical-based protection you buy is safe for the environment. Pesticides especially can be harmful to your plants themselves Remember that you can always dilute sprays and repellants with water, just make sure to consult the packaging. Some animals, like deer, are controlled with species-specific repellant, so keep an eye out for solutions like this as well.

You can feel confident in your garden's safety by ensuring you've covered all protective bases. Make sure that you aren't creating an area that is going to be unsafe for domestic animals (your own and your neighbors) and consider the amount of time and energy you will spend putting your pest protection knowledge to good use. Knowing what kind of pests you're dealing with is sure to help you in the long run.

Last Updated: July 28, 2011
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About Chanti Burnette Chanti was a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com.

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