By Chris Ross
Anyone who has ever maintained a garden knows the work, patience, and time it takes to be a successful gardener. For gardeners just getting started, there are plenty of gardening tips and tricks for beginners to get a garden off to a good start, such as books, magazines, and the experts at local nurseries.
It doesn’t matter if your focus is on vegetable gardening or flower gardening. Danger lurks for even the most experienced gardeners. Even if the best garden tips and ideas are used exactly right, there’s a threat waiting to destroy all that hard work unless you take action.
Garden pests such as rabbits, deer, insects, and other critters can destroy even the best-maintained gardens if they aren’t kept in check. Thankfully, there are successful gardeners who have solved this problem and we reached out to six of these experts and asked them, “What are your top three gardening tips to keep pests out of your garden?”
The responses we received are some of the most practical and effective solutions out there for keeping pests from destroying your garden.
Shawna is a wellness lifestyle advocate, professional author, blogger, photographer, and media host who campaigns for social good. She has a “make a difference” focus on wellness, green lifestyle living, organic gardening, and healthy food recipes built to inspire. You can follow her on Twitter or get more inspiration on her website.
“My favorite pest problem solutions in the garden are organic and easy to implement.”
1. “Rabbits are one of my most common invaders. Planting spicy globe basil around my front lawn vegetable garden has been one of the number one deterrents and works by presenting a wall of “stink” to the rabbits that they don’t like.”
2. “Japanese beetles invade mid-summer in my garden and I hand-pick them and throw them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.”
3. “Soapy water is my organic insecticide of choice for invading bugs – spray the bugs directly with a soapy water mixture and the soap does damage to their exoskeletons and does not harm the plants.”
Rochelle is a garden designer and writer who studied garden design at the English Gardening School in London, England who created a gardening magazine and website “Pith and Vigor.” She provides invaluable information to gardeners who share her passion, and you can follow her on Instagram for more tips and ideas.
“My problem is woodchucks and bunnies.”
1. “Maintain a fence. My problem is woodchucks and bunnies. I prefer something low and open because it’s visually nice and a split rail fence matches the style of my garden. Chicken wire tacked to it is almost invisible.”
2. “I find I don’t need to bury chicken wire deep in order to keep burrowing critters out. Instead I bury it flat – under a few inches of mulch – and extend it out away from the fence for at least 18 inches. Critters seem to dig right at the fence obstruction – but don’t usually have the mind to back up a couple of feet and start there. It works and is much easier than digging a deep trench.”
3. “The best thing I’ve found for Japanese beetles is Milky Spore Powder. It takes a few seasons for the life cycle to be fully interrupted, but it really works.”
Kevin is an avid gardener and entrepreneur who created EpicGardening.com to share his knowledge of gardening with a focus on helping gardeners learn how to grow their own food. You can find vegetable gardening tips for beginners and experts alike on his website and by following him on Twitter.
“My love for sandwiches is a close second to my love for hydroponics.”
1. “Build an understanding of what pests attack each type of plant you grow. Without a solid understanding, you will either misidentify pests, or miss them altogether — a disaster for your garden.”
2. “Hand picking for 5 minutes a day is an effective preventative measure. If you’re going to be in the garden anyways…why not do it?”
3. “If you must use more aggressive pest control methods (sprays, etc.), research their effects and be sure to use them exactly as intended. The last thing you want to do is harm your crops when trying to kill off pests.”
Mark is a marketing and gardening expert at ProvenWinners.com and has a special knack for keeping garden pests out of gardens! He writes extensively on all aspects of gardening and you can follow him on Twitter to keep up with his latest gardening tips.
“Deer browsing – It’s a big problem for a lot of gardeners, myself included.”
1. “Deer browsing – It’s a big problem for a lot of gardeners, myself included. I’ve tried various products to keep them away with mixed results. The best results I’ve had is to put a conscious effort into selecting deer resistant plants. Here’s a few shrubs that I use in my garden: boxwood, viburnum, winterberry holly, and bush honeysuckle.
2. “Japanese Beetles – They are a big pest for many of us. Gardeners take a variety of routes from prevention, hand picking, trapping, and chemical treatments. Planting shrubs that aren’t are as susceptible to Japanese beetles is a good option. A few varieties include arborvitae, boxwood, dogwood, and forsythia.”
3. “Rabbits, mice, and voles typically chew on branches to consume the tender, moist layer just below the bark. This type of damage is usually seen at the base of the plant, although when it snows, you’ll see damage further up the branches as the snow elevates the animals to new feeding perches. If you live in areas where these animals are frequent visitors, it’s a good idea to protect your plants. You can create a physical barrier over or around the plant with netting, wire mesh (like hardware cloth or chicken wire), or even burlap.”
Gary has had a passion for plants and gardening since he was a teenager and loves sharing his decades of experience and knowledge with other gardeners. He writes regularly for PlantCareToday.com and gardeners can follow him on Twitter for more gardening tips.
“Be proactive and keep things clean… the best offense is a good defense.”
1. “Keeping things clean includes keeping the soil area free of debris where pests like to hang out. Disposing of the debris properly. Pests go where there’s food. Take away the source and they won’t be an issue.”
2. “Let your shadow fall on your plants daily. Walk through your garden and landscape and look at your plants. You’ll catch little outbreaks earlier before they become BIG problems.”
3. “Finally, this goes along with #2 – use natural solutions where possible but use the RIGHT ones for the job. You’ll have less impact on your growing environment. Before I grab any 'chemical' products I first reach for one of three options: insecticidal soap, neem oil, or diatomaceous earth.”
Marianne is a self-taught gardener and gardening columnist who has become an expert gardener by actually gardening! You can enjoy her sense of humor and learn great gardening tips and tricks on her website SmallTownGardener, on Facebook, and by following her on Instagram.
“My top tip for keeping pests out of your garden is daily monitoring!”
1. “Believe it or not, my top tip for keeping pests out of your garden is….. daily monitoring! Yep, when you know what’s on your plants, what wasn’t on there yesterday, and what’s obviously having way too much fun and making more of themselves way too quickly, you’re much more likely to be able to deal with the problem in time to save plants. Things happen fast out there. Every garden has pests – the key is keeping them in balance.”
2. “Be prepared! Start the season with a freshly mixed spray bottle of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) and neem oil on hand at all times, so you can IMMEDIATELY deal with many of your garden pest issues. If you find yourself saying, 'Tomorrow I’ll mix up some spray and etc…etc…,' you’re going to lose this battle. Tomorrow you’ll be doing something else and be just as busy. Also, keep a small bottle of dish soap and a plastic container conveniently near your garden so you can hand pick Japanese beetles and other big boys the minute you see them.”
3. “Consider alternatives! And I don’t mean scrapbooking instead of gardening. Think about growing crops at different times to the pest-heavy, traditional timing by extending your season a little bit with floating row covers or cold frames. For instance, starting squash early can give you a couple of crops of zucchini before the squash borer starts laying her evil eggs. Starting another crop in late July after she’s finished flying will give you squash when others are losing the last of their vines to destructive borer larvae.”
So there you go! Real gardening experts giving you their top tips for keeping garden pests out of your garden. What a great mix of experts!
We were so happy to get such a broad range of responses from them with their decades of experience and knowledge. These awesome proven gardening tips are great for vegetable and flower gardening, and promise to help beginners and experienced gardeners keep those garden pests away.
A big “Thank You!” to all those who responded with such useful gardening information.
If you found these gardening ideas useful, please share this post. We would love to hear from all you gardeners out there, so let us know how you liked the post and tell us: What are YOUR top three gardening tips for keeping pests out of your garden?