Ten Home Remedies to Keep Bugs Out of Your Garden

Ten Home Remedies to Keep Bugs Out of Your Garden

Every gardener knows that maintaining a beautiful garden full is one the more problematic aspects of gardening. Choosing and planting flowers like daisies, roses, tulips or even anemones is easy, but ensuring that they bloom beautifully is a whole other issue that requires a certain breadth of knowledge that comes with time. Today, there are many concerns about what chemical pesticides are doing to the environment, to our water supply, and ultimately to the foods that we eat. When we use chemical pesticides, we are essentially pumping harmful toxins into the environment that not only destroy the insects that are in our gardens, but are also harmful to the pollinators that we count on for successful crops. Humans also have adverse reactions to exposure to pesticides. Nausea, headaches, and neurological issues are just a few of the problems associated with chemical pesticides. Perhaps it’s time to try some natural alternatives. Listed below are ten of the best natural remedies to keep insects and other pests from your garden.


  1. Garlic

Garlic repels a variety of insects including weevils, spider mites, Japanese beetles and fruit tree borers. It is simple to prepare and can be applied directly to the plants. Combine a cup of water with a clove of garlic in a blender and puree it until it’s smooth. Then, pour the puree into a 32-ounce water bottle, fill it with water, and give it a good shake. It’s ready for use. Simply spray it directly onto the plants.

Garlic is also ideal for companion planting. The strong odor of garlic masks the sweeter odors of peaches, roses, and other sweet-smelling plants. Planting garlic in rose beds will repel aphids, chafers, cane borers and Japanese beetles. It can also be planted in a ring around peach trees to repel peach tree borers. Additionally, garlic can be planted along with carrots to mask the sweet scent and repel carrot flies. It’s also helpful to plant garlic with tomato plants to repel spider mites and with cabbage to repel both cabbage worms and maggots. Garlic also has the added benefit of repelling slugs, snails, and even rabbits when planted in the garden.


  1. Marigolds

Fragrant marigolds are an excellent choice for companion planting in the garden. Marigolds repel a variety of harmful insects including whiteflies, tomato hornworms, thrips, squash bugs, and bean beetles. Marigolds also repel root-knot nematodes, a microscopic white worm that resides in the soil and attacks strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, and roses. Marigold roots release a compound that is toxic to the nematodes in the soil. If the garden is severely infested, turning the marigolds under at the end of the season can help to clear the area of nematodes in preparation for spring planting. Be sure to choose a fragrant variety such as French marigolds when considering plants for the garden.


  1. Eggshell

Not only are eggshells a great additive to composts heaps and fertilizer blends, they are also quite useful as an insect repellent, serving double duty when they are included in the garden. When planting, add a small handful of crushed eggshells into the hole before placing the plant to repel cutworms. Crushed eggshells can also be sprinkled on the soil around the stems of plants to repel slugs and snails. Insects don’t appreciate the sharp edges of the crushed shells and will typically avoid areas where eggshells are scattered. Be sure to wash eggshells before using them to avoid attracting local wildlife and to avoid the risks involved with raw eggs and contamination.


  1. Castile Soap

Castile soap is a vegetable oil based soap that is both effective and gentle to use in the garden. Castile soap is easy to use and works well in repelling and killing smaller insects such as whiteflies, spider mites, mealy bugs, spiders, and aphids. Simply mix one tablespoon of liquid castile soap with a quart of warm water and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray garden plants thoroughly and re-apply weekly to keep insects in check. Castile soap kills insects through the disturbance of their cell layers, which causes suffocation. You can also add two tablespoons of olive or canola oil to the soap mixture to aid it in its ability to stick to both the plants and the insects. Castile soap spray also serves well as a base to add other repellents such as red peppers and peppermint oil.


  1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder that consists of the fossilized remains of single-celled diatoms. The sharp edges of diatomaceous earth make it an excellent repellent against a variety of insects including aphids, thrips, mites, grubs, maggots, earwigs, ants, flea beetles, slugs, and snails. Diatomaceous earth cuts through the cuticle or exoskeleton of insects, killing the insects through dehydration or evisceration. Apply diatomaceous earth by carefully sprinkling it on the leaves and stems of infested plants after watering. It can also be dusted around the stem of the plant. Keep in mind that diatomaceous earth will also kill helpful insects such as earthworms, so it should only be applied to infested plants and areas. When purchasing diatomaceous earth, be sure to get the food-grade type. It is advisable to wear a dust mask when applying to avoid inhalation of the dust.


  1. Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural pesticide and repellent derived from the fruit and seeds of the Neem tree. It has a strong bitter taste and a garlic-like odor that kills or repels over 200 garden pests without being a threat to local pollinators. It can be applied directly to plants and is effective for around 22 days, after which it will be time to reapply. Neem oil will also need to be reapplied after it rains. It’s easy to make and use. Simply mix one teaspoon of neem oil with one quart of warm water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray all parts of the plant with the mixture.


  1. Red Pepper

Red pepper spray and powder is effective against a variety of garden pests including cabbage maggots, spider mites, cutworms, aphids and lace bugs. Ground red pepper can be dusted around the stems of plants, or a mixture can be made to use as a spray. A simple blend can be made by adding three tablespoons of red pepper flakes or 10 finely chopped fresh peppers to one gallon of water. The mixture should then be allowed to rest overnight before straining. You can also heat the mixture for approximately 15 minutes to allow for a stronger blend. After straining, spray the mixture on all surfaces of the plant, reapplying every three to five days or after it rains. Be sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove any pepper residue.


  1. Wood Ash

Wood ash is an effective deterrent to snails and slugs. The qualities of wood ash draw water from their bodies, causing dehydration. It is important to only use ash gathered from a wood fire. Ashes from fires that contain trash, cardboard, coal, or treated wood contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to plants. Simply sprinkle ash around the stems of plants, reapplying after it rains.


  1. Beer

Beer, even stale beer makes a great trap for snails and slugs, which are attracted to the yeast and yeast by-products found in beer. Simply fill several jars around one-third of the way full with beer and then bury them up to the rim throughout and around the garden. When slugs and snails approach to partake, they will fall into the jars and then drown. Empty the jars daily and refill with more beer to continue protecting the garden from pests.


  1. Borax

Borax is an effective treatment for dealing with ants that invade the garden. Borax is made of a natural mineral salt called boron. Borax is also used to kill weeds, so care should be taken when using it in the garden, as it doesn’t differentiate and will kill other plants as well when applied in large doses. To make ant bait traps, mix borax with sugar and a small amount of water to create a paste. Spread the paste on plastic lids and then place these around the garden. Borax is a slow acting poison. Ants will carry the mixture back to the nest, poisoning the entire colony.


Chemical pesticides and repellents may deal with insects and other pests in the garden, but ultimately they’re not safe for the environment or the people who use them. Natural alternatives like the ones listed above are a safe way to protect the garden without releasing toxins into the soil and environment that are dangerous and unhealthy.


About the author

I love to spend all the time I can outdoors and find every excuse to leave my house. I write about everything from backyard DIY projects to gardening. If you can’t get a hold of me I am probably on a trail or a boat.