Garden pest control is a constant battle but hugely important in protecting your plants and crops from damage. The good news is, you can win the fight against insects with a little know-how and perseverance. Take a look at our blog, roll up your sleeves and get started.
Get healthy soil
Making sure your soil is healthy gives your garden a better chance of withstanding pests. Start using a compost bin and add two inches to the garden every spring to bring nutrition to your soil. After you’ve mowed the lawn, spread two inches of grass clippings around plants when they are approximately four inches high. This will help fend off weeds, reduce water evaporation and also add nutrients to the soil.
Stop those slugs
Thanks to milder weather over the past few weeks, our common plant pest, the dreaded garden slug, is back with a vengeance! In fact, 500 billion of them are estimated to be making an unwelcome appearance in gardens across the UK this year. Now’s the perfect time to have a spring clean in your garden and keep these pests at bay. You’ve carefully cultivated your plants all season so don’t leave the slugs to wreak havoc on them.
For vegetable plots and flower beds, apply a layer of ready-to-use slug pellets directly onto the soil to keep them under control. If you’re looking to protect potted plants, serrated copper tape is great at stopping slimy slugs crawling up and into the planter. It’ll create a tiny electrical charge when touched, stopping them in their tracks.
If you’re looking for environmentally-friendly options, try generously scattering coffee grounds or broken eggshells around vulnerable plants and on the soil around stems. Sharp edges will help keep them away. You could also fill your border with plants that slugs are known to dislike. These plants include lavender, fennel and foxgloves. Of course, there’s always the good old-fashioned hand-picking method too. Grab a torch on a warm, wet evening and go hunting!
Beat the bugs
The peskiest garden bugs you’ll find include aphids, vine weevils and whitefly. Aphids will attach themselves to young, soft growth, and can multiply very quickly. To avoid an infestation, the less squeamish can remove these between finger and thumb, whilst sensitive souls can wear rubber gloves! The plant can then be sprayed with soapy water to remove the remaining honeydew they’ve secreted and to create a slippery surface which stops any more from clinging on.
A great way to control numbers of garden pests, including vine weevil, is by encouraging beneficial wildlife into your garden. Birds, toads, frogs and hedgehogs all love to feast on grubs and provide a perfectly natural pest control solution. Take a look at our blog on ways to create a wildlife garden, so you make a safe haven for wildlife and encourage helpful garden insects such as bees and spiders.
Watch out! Be on guard with garden insects, as it may look as if you’ve controlled them, only for more to spring up. Persistence is key!
Top tips for a healthy garden all year round
- Look regularly and closely at your plants for signs of disease. This way outbreaks of pests can be caught early.
- Spring is the best time of year to put organic fertiliser on the garden. Plants will get a good start to the new season and can grow well and thus keep healthy.
- Good intentions should extend to weeding if possible, particularly during the first flush of growth, when there is plenty of bare earth around, and plant growth is not fully established. This can be a time when the weeds appear to be winning the battle, so little and often is the key. Regular hoeing and hand weeding, on a dry day, when the weeds are still small will keep them in check.
- Cleaning of the greenhouse, pots and all equipment and tools, in preparation for the season ahead, helps to keep the garden healthy and stop the spread of pests and diseases.