11 Ways to Rid Your Garden of Pests

There are many things that can be done in your garden to help control the unwanted critters and insects that find the veggie plot (or your prized roses) their tasty treat for the day.  Attracting birds and good insects,  thoughtful companion planting, and even hand-picking some of the bugs and placing them in a bucket of soapy water are all ways to stop them from treading on your turf.

Especially annoying are the bugs you don’t see, like the ones that are eating holes in my pepper plants. That’s when I pull out the homemade spray …

#1.  FLOWER CHICK’S GARDEN POTION

I love using natural pest control throughout my home and garden. This natural pest control spray is ideal for keeping those pesky critters away from your plants. If you have a natural and organic garden that is thriving, this is going to be your best resource to keep your plants safe this summer!

Here’s the recipe and what you’ll need:

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon of dish washing liquid

1 tablespoon of cooking oil

1/4 cup of Tabasco sauce

1 gallon of water


Here’s What To Do:

Combine the first five (5) ingredients in a bowl and then pour the mixture into an empty gallon milk jug via a funnel. Then, fill the jug with water and shake to mix.

Pour as needed into a spray bottle and apply to your plants. The cooking oil and dishwashing liquid help make it “stick” to the plants. Reapply after it rains.

The critters don’t like the taste (who would?!?) and it doesn’t harm your flowers or vegetables … Try it out for yourself and see!

#2. CHUG-A-LUG SLUG!

One of the simplest ways to get rid of slugs is to pour them a beer. Literally.  An inexpensive, cheap beer will do the job just as well as a pricey craft beer.

I have had great luck using good ‘ol Pabst Blue Ribbon! Pour some in a shallow dish or bowl like a used margarine container or tuna can and then  sink it into your garden near where you’ve had pest damage  (they especially like to munch on my hostas).

I’ve read that the slugs are not attracted to the alcohol, it’s the yeast or yeast by products that ropes them in. They crawl into the beer, take a sip, and drown.  Problem solved!

#3. PLUCK THE OFFENDERS – BATH TIME!

These iridescent buggers gravitate towards roses, fruit trees and shade trees.

Japanese beetles are slow. You can easily pick them off plants with your hands (wear gloves if you are squeamish) and toss them into a bucket or empty coffee can of soapy water.  Do this in the morning when the beetles are less alert.

Per the Old Farmer’s Almanac, geraniums contain a substance that temporarily paralyzes Japanese beetles, making them susceptible to predators. Geraniums therefore are often used as “trap plants” for the pesky bugs.  The same with zinnias.

#4. MORE ON TRAP & DECOY PLANTS …

What exactly are trap plants?  The use of trap plants or crops is a method of implementing decoy plants to lure agricultural pests, usually insects, away from the main crop. The decoy trap plants can then be treated or destroyed to eliminate the unwanted pests.

Interest in trap crop information has increased in recent years, along with the growth of interest in organic gardening and a growing concern over pesticide use, not only for its potential to harm animal and human life,  but because spraying can destroy beneficial insects.

Here are some examples of trap crop plants:  dill attracts tomato hornworms, collards lure cabbage worms, nasturtiums beckon aphids, and sunflowers are a beacon for stinkbugs.

For more info on trap plants, visit this site: Trap & Decoy Plants

#5. EGGSHELL POWDER IN THE GARDEN

Using eggshells as an organic pest control method is inexpensive, and easy!

To prep the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in the fall.

Finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium) You can also try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.  A recipe for happy plants!

#6. COMPANION PLANTING FOR THE VEGGIE GARDEN

Try mixing in some marigold plants in your rows. Marigolds can help with a number of pests including cabbage worms and aphids.

  • Planting cucumber with your corn is mutually beneficial. The cucumber plants will help keep the raccoons off of your corn, while the corn will help reduce wilt in your cucumbers.

Mix parsley into your carrot rows to help repel the carrot fly.

Oregano can be planted with broccoli to help repel the cabbage butterfly.

#7. DEER ISSUES? PLANT WHAT THEY DON’T LIKE

Fuzzy or hairy foliage:

Deer don’t like fuzzy or hairy textures against their tongues. Deer-resistant garden plants in this category include the lambs ear, lady’s mantle, brunnera, nicotiana, tuberous begonias, yarrow, ageratum and many others.

Prickly foliage: 

Also disliked by most deer are plants with spines on their leaves. They generally avoid plants such as:  acanthus, globe thistle, sea hollies, and russian sage.


Are you having issues with rabbits nibbling on your annuals and perennials?  If so, check out my favorite problem solvers here:

Rabbit Proof Your Garden


#8. ATTRACTING BIRDS TO EAT THE OFFENDERS

Use birds to your advantage in controlling bugs by first identifying the bug problem. Once the offenders are identified, you can then take steps to attract those birds whose diet includes those insects.

To attract birds that eat garden pests: Rule No. 1 is don’t use chemicals, including lawn chemicals, to control insects. Save the money you might spend on pesticides and let the birds do the pest control work for you.

When June bugs and Japanese beetles start chomping on the leaves of your favorite garden plants or their larvae turn into grubs that eat roots of grasses and start destroying your lawn, it’s time to fight back.

You can do that by attracting birds such as tree swallows, barn swallows, purple martins, eastern phoebes and great crested flycatchers to your yard. Large flying insects comprise a significant portion of the diet of these birds.

For more info on attracting birds to your garden:  Attract Bug-Eating Birds

#9. MAKE A SOAP SPRAY INSECTICIDE

A homemade soap spray is also effective for controlling mites, aphids, whiteflies, beetles, and other hungry little buggers!

Here’s how to make it:

Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of a mild liquid soap (such as castile soap) with 1 quart of water, and spray the mixture directly on the infected surfaces of the plants.

A soap spray insecticide works in a similar fashion as an oil spray pesticide, and can be applied as necessary … though it is always recommended to NOT apply it during the hot sunny part of the day, but rather in the evenings or early mornings.

#10. CHILE PEPPER INSECTICIDE SPRAY

Chile pepper spray is a great homemade, natural repellent that can be used for a variety of different pests … including our neighbor’s cat who was using our garden as her litter box.

This spray can be made from either fresh hot peppers or chile pepper powder. To make a basic chile spray from pepper powder, mix 1 tablespoon of chile powder with 1 quart of water and several drops of mild liquid soap. The mixture can be used full-strength on the leaves of affected plants.

To make chile spray from fresh chile peppers, blend or puree 1/2 cup of peppers with 1 cup of water, then add 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Let sit until cooled, then strain out the chile material, add several drops of liquid soap to it and spray as desired.  Be sure to wear gloves when handling them!

#11. LADY BUG, LADY BUG, STAY IN MY YARD …

Attracting ladybugs is one of the top wishes for many organic gardeners. Ladybugs in the garden will help to eliminate destructive pests like aphids, mites, and scale. Getting ladybugs to come to your garden, and more importantly stay in your garden, is easy once you know a few simple facts and tricks.

Sometimes, rather than wait for ladybugs to appear in our garden, it’s easier and faster to simply purchase some ladybugs. The problem then becomes, how do we keep the ladybugs we just purchased in our garden after we release them?

First, realize that the same things that you do to attract ladybugs will also help keep ladybugs in your yard. Making sure that there is food, shelter and water will go a long way to making your garden look like a good place to settle down and lay eggs.

Second, you need to help give yourself a day or so to convince the ladybugs that your garden is a good place to live. When you receive your ladybugs, place them in the fridge for a six to eight hours. This will slow them down (but will not kill them) and keep them from flying right off when you open the container.

Third, make sure you release them at the optimal time. Right after dusk or right before dawn is the perfect time to let your ladybugs go!


Facing unwanted “guests” in the garden?  Try any combination of my above 11 tips to help control the unwanted critters and insects in your vegetable or flower garden plots.  They have worked for me!

We hope you found this post about dealing with pests in the garden useful.  Let us know your thoughts and what you do to combat insect and animal pests in the garden by visiting our contact page