Common Garden Pests & How to Get Rid of Them
Whether you’re trying to grow plants in a planter on your balcony or in a patio container garden, insects and animals could be very hazardous to your budding flowers, herbs, and vegetables. No matter what you’re growing, you don’t want the havoc that ants, aphids, and mice can cause because it’s often irreparable damage that will never heal.
If you want to keep ahead of the most common garden pests to protect your plants from harm, you need this guide from Patio Growers. Check out our overview of common garden bugs and animals to watch out for with advice on how to deal with every single one. With a little help from our urban growing experts, you’ll have a thriving garden with none of those unwanted guests.
You’ve probably seen these small pear-shaped insects on flowers, like roses because they like to sap new growth from plants. While these little bugs might seem harmless, they can distort leaves and spread viral diseases throughout your entire garden. Also known as blackflies or greenflies, aphids cause these diseases through their excretions as they feed. These excretions, called honeydew, can collect on leaves and cause mold to develop.
Although aphids don’t usually kill the entire plant, they can still cause a significant amount of damage to your garden. As one of the most common garden pests, you need a plan to deal with them fast. The best way to get rid of aphids is by rubbing neem oil or soapy water on plant leaves as a deterrent. You can also use a strong spray from a hose to wash these common garden bugs off your plants when you see them. Another solution for these common garden bugs is to introduce ladybugs to your garden, as they eat aphids to act as a natural exterminator.
Even more dangerous than aphids, ants are common garden pests that can actually control other bugs. By telling the aphids what to do, ants let the aphids suck the sugar out of your plants before taking them back to their hill for food.
If you can’t keep aphids and ants off your plants with neem oil, you can take a more aggressive step with a combination of sugar and borax. You boil these two ingredients together and soak the resulting solution into cotton balls. When you set the cotton balls out among your plants, aphids and ants will both be drawn to them, sucking the solution out and dying from the poison.
While aphids and ants are annoying, the cabbage moth is often considered to be the most annoying of common garden bugs. They mainly target produce like broccoli and collard greens, but cabbage moths are not always easy to spot. The moths themselves don’t typically mess with your plants, but in their earlier life stages, they eat leafy greens before cocooning. Finding the eggs before they hatch and even seeing the worms is very difficult. If you think you might have cabbage moths, you’ll really need to examine each and every leaf closely to find them.
If you do see any cabbage moths around your garden, consider an electric zapper or cover your plants with a shade cloth to keep this common garden pest from landing and laying any eggs. There is some anecdotal evidence that mint or garlic keeps cabbage moths away from your leafy greens, so try planting these close together as a deterrent.
Also known as the Japanese beetle, fig beetles are very deceiving. This beautiful green bug is actually incredibly devastating to your balcony garden. You might think their name denotes that they only eat figs, but that’s not true! This common garden pest will also eat everything from berries to tomatoes. If you’re growing any of these plants on your patio, you should start netting them to keep common garden bugs off. If you see any fig beetles on the plants, you’ll need to handpick them off.
In addition to causing you problems with their bites, mosquitos are also common garden pests that are harmful to plants. Sometimes, planting marigolds can repel these bugs, but that doesn’t always work. To keep mosquitos away, you want to avoid any standing water near your plants. If you have an automated watering system, you’ll want to elevate your pots with a bench to prevent excess water buildup and allow for better drainage.
Mice & Small Animals
Some container gardens are protected from furry pests with locations behind fences or on higher levels, but sometimes, they can still get in. Glue traps and cages are a good solution for smaller mammals and bigger animals like raccoons and opossums, but you’ll have to figure out what to do with them once they’re caught. The Humane Society recommends releasing them into the wild, but they can always come back to haunt your garden.
We like to keep these common garden pests away with chicken wire around your plants, but mint is also a deterrent that you can use specifically for mice. Grow mint on the outskirts of your garden, or buy a powerful mint spray to use as a barrier against them.
Our final common garden pest to discuss is the slug. They leave slimy trails and devour foliage as they traverse your garden, leaving your plants inedible. The best way to keep slugs out is actually with beer! Scatter a few shallow dishes of the beverage throughout the garden to kill them off. When you settle the dishes at ground level in the soil, the slugs end up crawling right in to drink the beer and die. If you can, you may also want to seal your garden off from slugs and snails completely with a salt circle.
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With these tips for deterring and ridding yourself of common garden pests, you can expect happier plants and a better harvest. If you’re ready for more tips, check out our blog to keep up with everything we have to offer!