How to protect your garden from pests
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Difficulty rating: Low
This task should be fairly straightforward regardless of your gardening experience.
Nurturing your garden to help it blossom is one thing, but keeping it looking beautiful can be another. There are all manner of pests that will be attracted to your garden, and keeping them at bay can sometimes seem like a full time job. However just read this handy guide to find out how to keep your garden free from unwanted attention.
Step 1: Identify the pests in your garden
Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes. Here are the most common types:
Ants won’t cause much damage to your plants, so in most instances you can probably leave them alone. However if their nests appear unsightly or they start coming into your home you’ll want to get them under control as quickly as possible. Hosing their nests is a quick and easy way to get rid of them, while ant powder or liquids are also very effective.
Aphids & whitefly
These small insects can do real damage to your plants, while the honey dew they leave behind can attract ants. You can get rid of aphids by using a pesticide spray that’s suitable for use on plants, or by hanging aphid traps nearby.
Although they’ll eventually turn into beautiful butterflies, caterpillars can cause a lot of damage to your garden. The most common types you’ll find are large cabbage white (yellow and black with a hairy body), small cabbage white (pale green with short hairs) and cabbage moth (yellow or brown with a hint of green and no hairs).
As much as we love them, even household pets can be a nuisance in the garden. Cats will often use flower beds as a place to go to the toilet. The holes they dig to cover solid waste can be unsightly, while their urine can actually damage plant roots.
Like cats, foxes can spoil flower beds or lawns by leaving waste or digging holes in the garden.
The most common type of squirrel in the UK can cause quite a lot of damage to the garden. They will dig holes to bury food or dig up newly planted bulbs, and their claws can damage young trees as they climb them.
By tunnelling under your garden, moles will damage your lawn and flower beds by leaving unsightly raised mole hills. They tend to be most active in the mornings and evenings in spring and autumn.
Mice and rats are the worst type of mammal pest you’ll encounter. Not only can they damage wood, electrical wiring and water pipes, but they can also spread disease.
Slugs & snails
Slugs and snails are a well-known nuisance in gardens as they eat a wide variety of plants. They’re most active during cool wet weather from spring to autumn.
One of the least popular forms of insects due to their sometimes aggressive nature and painful stings, wasps are attracted to damaged soft-skin fruits in the garden. They can nest anywhere from trees to houses, and extreme care should be taken when removing their nests.
Step 2: Get the pests under control
There are many different ways of dealing with pests, and we’ve got a wide range of products to help you get any pest problems under control.
Put up a barrier
You can use sharp sand, grit or eggshells as barriers to keep slugs and snails away by scattering them around the base of your plants. To keep these pests out of potted plants, simply put copper-impregnated bands around the top of the pots. You can protect your garden from caterpillars by covering your plants in horticultural fleece.
These come in many different forms – everything from fly spray aerosols and ant powder to slug pellets that you scatter on your garden. There are two different types of pesticides:
- Contact pesticides: These need to be applied directly to the nuisance pests and won’t be absorbed by your plants.
- Systemic pesticides: These are absorbed by the plant, meaning they do a great job of keeping sap-feeding insects under control.
Traps are among the best ways to deal with a rodent problem and come in a variety of models.
- Snap traps: The most familiar form of mousetrap. These use a metal bar that snaps shut killing the mouse instantly.
- Electronic mousetraps: These battery-powered traps are enclosed boxes, which electrocute mice and rats when they enter.
- Glue traps: These sticky traps use thin layers of glue, which the rodents get stuck on. Vegetable oil can be used to undo the adhesive in order to release the rodents humanly. Glue traps can also be used to catch insects.
Another way to get rid of rodents is to use poison. These should be left in bait trays for mice and rats to eat.
Encourage birds to your garden
Bird feed can entice birds into your garden which will in turn help keep the insect population under control as birds will also eat the insects.
How to stop larger animals from damaging your garden
Large pests that visit your garden must be dealt with in their own way. Prevent cats from soiling your garden by scattering mothballs around or using a non-toxic cat repellent. Put chicken wire over newly planted bulbs to prevent them from being dug up, and make sure any outdoor bins are securely closed or locked to stop foxes from getting into them. Ultrasonic deterrents are also great for keeping cats, moles, foxes and squirrels away from your garden, just make sure you don’t use them near pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs.
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