As a homeowner, you obviously want to keep your house pest-free. Many times, you don't want to use harsh or dangerous insecticides or other chemicals in your home. The same can be said for your backyard, especially if you have an organic garden. Luckily, there is a variety of tried and true natural ways available to control pests. Here is a list of do-it-yourself methods any gardening enthusiast can use:
Cheesecloth and Soap
There are many things around your house or garage that can keep wildlife away and your plants and garden unharmed. If you grow tomatoes or other fruits and vegetables outdoors, you know how attractive your homegrown produce can be to squirrels and deer.
If you'd like to keep these animals away from your garden plants, cut a bar of Dial soap in half, wrap it in a cheese cloth and hang it near any plant you want to keep pests away from. According to The Family Handyman, this pest control solution is proven to keep both deer and squirrels away, but wildlife experts still don't know if it's the scent of the soap or the swinging cloth that deters animals.
Do you have a pair of small bungee cords in your garage that aren't being used? You can put them to work to deter raccoons from getting into your garbage cans. Drill holes on either side of your trash receptacles and thread the bungee cords through to hold their lids in place. This simple solution can keep these nighttime scavengers from knocking over your waste and causing a mess. If you want to further deter raccoons, place a heavy item like a cinder block on top of the garbage lids as well.
The oils found in many plants, including cedar trees, are natural and safe pest control options. You can lay cedar chips down around your plants or mix a low concentration of cedar oil with water and spray the liquid on your lawn, shrubs and other plants to keep your garden free of mosquitos, ticks and fleas. Unlike some chemical pesticides, cedar oil isn't toxic to children or pets. However, make sure you only use this oil in a low dosage since higher concentrations can be harmful if swallowed or touched, The Family Handyman notes.
Mason Jars and Essential Oils
Filling mason jars with certain essential oils such as citronella can keep garden insects away from you, your plants and your guests if you're entertaining in your backyard. Make your own organic pest control by pouring citronella or by mixing lavender, cedar wood, lemon and thieves oil with water in a mason jar. Add tea candles and light them to keep a pleasant scent around your yard and prevent bugs from biting you and your guests. This can be a great do-it-yourself method to repel insects without the use of potentially hazardous chemicals. This oil recipe also acts as a great decoration.
Many store-bought mosquito repellents contain citronella oil. However, if you'd like to keep this insect out of your garden without spraying yourself down, either keep a citronella candle outside, or better yet, grow your own plant. The citronella plant has a strong scent that masks other smells and keeps mosquitos away. This perennial thrives in most climates and can grow up to six feet tall, Lifehacker notes. You can grow this shrub either in a flower bed or plant it in pots around the edges of your house.
Citronella makes for a great and natural insect repellent without all the chemical smells that come from commercial bug sprays.
Lemons and Apples
Want an easy and natural way to combat any wasps that might be buzzing around your garden? Many winged insects hate the smell of lemon. So use this to your advantage by using cloves to poke holes in the fruit. Keep the cloves in the piece of citrus and leave the spiced fruit outdoors. According to maids.com, puncturing a ripe apple with cloves and leaving it outside will work, too.
Orange and lemon extracts act as natural insect repellents. Next time you peel an orange or use a lemon, save the peels and tie them up in a cheesecloth-like bag and store them where you see the most bugs in your garden. This organic contraption can spare both you from getting stung and your plants from infestation.
Lemongrass, a citrus-flavored herb, is a great spice to use in cooking, but it's also an organic mosquito repellent. Stop by your local organic grocery store to look for a fully-grown plant. Once you find one, keep it in a planter on a windowsill for a couple weeks until its roots are fully grown, then replant it in your garden to keep bugs out. In fact, lemongrass isn't the only edible herb that's a natural bug deterrent. You can kill two birds with one stone by growing fresh basil, peppermint, cloves and garlic in your backyard to both cook with and to keep insects at bay.
Don't throw away your used coffee grounds, instead use them to keep ants out of your garden. You can sprinkle the grounds wherever you want to stop ants from getting in or you can put some of the substance on any ant mounds you find in your backyard, Garden Myths says.
While natural pest repellents can work wonders, sometimes insects aren't deterred and will continue to invade your garden. However, there are some eco-friendly pesticides you can put together by simply combining items in your kitchen and garage. These pest control methods are also inexpensive and can save you the expense of hiring a professional exterminator.
Regular household liquid soap isn't just great for cleaning your hands, you can also use it to kill ants. Pour dishwashing or liquid hand soap on ant hills. Combine it with orange oil to add an even more lethal layer to suffocate ants where they live, The Family Handyman reports.
You can also use a mixture of peppermint castile soap and water as a natural spray to keep bugs away from your house. According to Likehacker, just mix two tablespoons of soap for every one gallon of water. Then put the concoction in a spray bottle and squirt it on any ants or areas you want to keep the insects off.
Soap also works well to rid your garden of mealy bugs and mites. Mix one tablespoon of canola oil with a few drops of Ivory dish soap and put the liquid in a spray bottle. This non-toxic recipe can kill smaller insects if you spray it on the plants around your yard, Eartheasy reports.
Besides mixing canola oil or other liquids with dishwashing soap, cayenne or hot pepper sauce blended with Ivory soap will also work to kill off any insects trying to overrun your garden. In fact, adding water or soap to hot sauce, garlic or horsetail plants makes for effective do-it-yourself pest control sprays.
Not only does the hot sauce and liquid detergent mixture keep bugs off your plants, it also keeps deer away. According to Eartheasy, stags and does can eat up to five pounds of plants a day, which can play havoc on your garden if they get into it. If you find deer eating any vegetation in your backyard, simply spray the hot sauce and soap blend on the plants you see them eating the most. This non-toxic solution is safe for your yard and for animals but will deter them from feasting on your garden.
Have any cheap beer in your refrigerator that no one wants to drink? Let the slugs in your backyard drink it and keep them from destroying your garden at the same time. According to Garden Myths, slugs are attracted to beer and will usually try to take a sip if the beverage is left out. Fit a tin or plastic cup into the ground near your plants and pour beer into the containers. Slugs will be attracted to the liquid and later drown in the cups.
Not only does beer work on slugs, it can also eliminate cockroaches from crawling around your backyard or even setting foot in your house. Just pour a half cup of beer into a saucer-sized plate and leave it outside near any doors leading into your home. The suds act as a natural deterrent for roaches, according to Likehacker.
Milk Jug Trap
You can easily put a trap together using an old gallon milk jug to rid your garden of any wasps or bees. Simply fill the container with warm water and sugar or sweet juice and cut a small slit in the jug. However, make sure to keep the cap on. Bees, yellow jackets, hornets and other flying, stinging insects are attracted to the sugar and will crawl into the slit but be unable to escape. Store it in your backyard wherever you see the most bugs.
DIY Bug Spray
If you also want an all-natural way of keeping mosquitos and other bugs off you, there are always homemade and organic options available. According to Likehacker, organic pest control solutions made up of essential oils and herbs are a great way to keep insects off your arms and legs.
Combine 30-50 drops of essential oils of rosemary, cinnamon, clove, lavender, eucalyptus and mint and mix the oils with four ounces of water and three ounces of witch hazel. After combining all the ingredients, pour the concoction into a spray bottle. Spray on your arms and legs to keep bugs at bay.
What's Attracting Pests?
Some insects are actually good for your garden and yard. Bees pollinate flowers and other plants, while ants burrow and move soil around, making areas of your garden more nutrient-rich and good for growing. These two beneficial insects shouldn't be viewed as pests unless they begin to overrun your backyard.
One of the easiest ways to rid your garden of pests is to be proactive. Find out if anything you do attracts insects, squirrels or raccoons and put a stop to it.
Make sure your garden doesn't have any stagnant pools of water, which could be a breeding ground for gnats and other flies. If you have any in your yard, drain them as soon as possible to keep the bug population from growing.
Mosquitos lay their eggs on the surface of standing water, so eliminating any pools of water - including ones that are just a quarter of an inch deep - can be a proactive form of pest control, according to bugoff.com. Since pests can breed in even the smallest amount of water, you should walk around your garden after it rains and dump out an stagnant water that might collect in a bird bath, fountain or even in any plastic toys your children might keep outside.
If your backyard contains ponds or a swimming pool, you can treat the water with chlorine and clean them regularly. You can also use a water bubbler in your ponds or decorative pools to ward off any egg-laying mosquitos, since the moving water makes it more difficult for their eggs to hatch.
Clean Up After Yourself
Pests are attracted to food and drink when it's left out either inside or outside your home. To keep bugs and squirrels from taking over your garden, make sure to clean up after yourself and your guests and not leave anything from a backyard barbecue out in the open. Leftovers or garbage that isn't disposed of properly can attract squirrels, raccoons, gnats and other insects where they aren't welcome.
Not only will human food attract pests, but so will dog and cat food. Make sure not to leave out any pet food overnight and do not store the bowls outside. Also, clean the pet food containers regularly.
Taking care of grass and plants in your garden is also a means of keeping the wrong kinds of bugs out. Regularly weeding and mowing your lawn means less places for pests to hide and make their homes in your backyard. Trim your hedges, rake up leaves and grass clippings along and cover any compost bins if you use them. Doing all this is a great first step to warding off most pests.
A Nice and Neat Garden
Keeping your yard neat and maintained along with using non-toxic, do-it-yourself pest control remedies can keep your garden growing and you, your kids and pets safe from potentially harsh pesticides. These inexpensive tips take minimal effort and just a few items you probably already have lying around your house. They can help you keep the wrong kind of bugs out and the right ones in. All you need to do now is get started!