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Do it Yourself Garden Pest Control

Updated on April 24, 2020
Cynthia Hoover profile image

Cynthia is a gardening enthusiast. She has a green thumb and always plants a variety of items for harvesting during gardening season.

Do you have trouble with insects or birds ruining your hard-earned harvests? Is the neighborhood cat pestering you by using your garden area as a litter box? There are easy do it yourself solutions to rid yourself of any pest threatening garden plants. There are easy remedies for many pests that may enjoy nibbling on your favorite tomatoes or eating on fruits in an orchard.

Common Garden Pests

  • Birds
  • Cats
  • Insects

Garden pests can overtake a harvest or harm our carefully tended garden plants in a short time. Birds are often sneaky thieves that can take an entire fruit or berry harvest overnight. Cats won’t eat your harvest, but they often treat garden areas as a little box damaging plants. Insects can be one of the worst garden pests that seasoned, and novice gardeners must deal with.

Garden plot or raised beds pests are extremely common. Not just for fruits and veggies pests often take advantage of ornamental plants as well. Whatever your reasons for needing to deter garden pests there are many cost-effective solutions, and many do it yourself options to consider.

What is your most problematic garden pest?

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Birds

Some lucky gardeners may have never dealt with birds attaching their fruits and vegetables. Only certain species seem to be problematic at ravaging gardens and orchards. I have apple trees, cherry trees and many blackberries and raspberries growing on our farm. The first year we moved in I harvested around 20 pounds of cherries alone not counting the other varieties. The next year I harvested nothing but a few apples. Why? Because birds got to them first.

Bird Species That are Common Garden Pests

  • Crows
  • Finches
  • Robins
  • Sparrows

Crows seem to be able to decimate an entire cherry tree in a short amount of time. You can purchase bird nets that cover trees to help protect them. Bird nets can be a costly investment if you have a lot of trees or berry bushes to protect. Though there are some low budget options and you can often use items you find around the house.

Shiny objects tend to scare birds away especially when the sun is shining brightly. I never noticed an issue with birds during the night as most are diurnal (active in daylight hours, and rest during night). This makes this option the best for repelling birds with a do it yourself method.

Bird Repellent Options

  • Old DVD’s Or CD’s
  • Pie Plates
  • Aluminum baking sheets
  • Costume jewelry
  • Anything shiny laying around the house

Pretty much anything shiny that you have laying around the house not being used will help deter pests.

How to Use DVDs or CD's as a Pest Control

If you are keeping up with the times and use streaming services for entertainment like I do you likely have an old stash of DVD or CD's that you no longer use. These are easy to use as they already have a spot you can use to hang them. Simply string some twine or fishing like through the center tie off and allow enough slack to have a loop to hang on trees. Or slide right over some of the smaller branches on fruit trees.

Using Pie Plates

Pie plates maybe one you recall seeing while traveling down rural areas, or maybe like me your grandmother used this method. Not all pie plats or pie pans will work this takes metal pie pans. You will need a drill to drill a hole along with some twine to use for hanging. I find pie plates work best around garden fences as most are not extremely shiny. This method also seems to work for deterring deer as well.

Aluminum Baking Sheets

If you find yourself without any old CD's or pie plates you can use aluminum baking sheets, serving trays or some form of kitchen tray that is shiny. I find these rather bulky and they create a bit of an eyesore too. But it is an option and again with this method you would need to drill a hole and then hang.

Costume Jewelry

This is less common pest repellent, but shiny cheap pieces of costume jewelry can be used in a pinch as a deterrent for birds. Especially since certain costume pieces will really light up when the sun hits them.

Anything Shiny

Maybe you don’t have anything I mentioned but still need some way to keep birds away from your crops. Remember anything shiny seems to do the trick. I have even used pinwheel spinners I found online, and they are doing the trick keeping birds away from where I have grass seed. I just staked the in the ground where we have been struggling to grow grass because the birds would not stay away from the grass seed. You do not have to buy anything to do the job, just find something shiny and a way to put it where you need to keep birds away. I also have a set of hanging spinners I purchased to use in the bigger trees I have here at home. These style of spinners are really close to a garden decor item you maybe able to find at a local dollar store.

Repelling or Deterring Cats

Cats are another pest at times when it comes to gardening. One I have all too much experience with, and yes, the cat in question belongs to me. While I adore my cat and he has been with me for 10 years now, I do not adore what he does in my garden.

It took years to find a solution to keep him from ‘doing his business’ in my garden. Often breaking and digging up plants to use the dirt as a litter box. That’s without even considering the gross factor or the parasites that can be found in cat scat.

There are a few options for deterring our four-legged friends from using our garden spaces for bathrooms.

Cat Deterrent and Repellent options

  • Essential oils
  • Pest Mats
  • Fencing
  • Moth Balls
  • Plastic Silverware

Essential Oils That Keep Cats Away

If you have essential oils around the house, you can consider mixing up a spray and creating a barrier around your garden space. The downside to this method is having to do it frequently because of rain or weather conditions. I found that this method was a bit too much as I often forgot to re-apply my mixtures after a rain or on any regular schedule if I am honest. If you choose this method, you can use:

  • Peppermint
  • Orange
  • Citronella
  • Lemongrass
  • Lavender

Pest Mats

Available on the market today are pest mats. I recently purchased some this to use as I have expanded the garden spaces we are using. They work well, and my cat seems to hate them and give a wide birth to the areas I have put them down in. I like this method as I can cut out spaces in a long 6-foot section to allow proper plant spacing. And this leaves the plant protected on all sides.

Fencing

Fencing is a good option but can get pricey depending on the materials you are using. Chicken wire will work well to keep cats away from your garden area.

Moth Balls

Cats seem to dislike moth balls and as a result they steer clear of them. Placing them around your garden can keep them at bay. Though I personal don’t like the smell of moth balls at all so I only used this method for a short time.

Plastic Silverware

No, your not planning a picnic here. Plastic silverware especially forks can be poked around strategically in your garden. Creating an obstacle like this keep cats away because they cannot find comfortable spot to squat or dig in the dirt. Just be sure to find BPA plastic silverware or better yet Eco Silverware made out of palm leaf or other plant based materials.

Insects

Some plant varieties we may choose for seasonal gardening are pest resistant. What do we do with all the other crops and plants that aren’t? Sometimes the solution when it comes to insects will boil down to the specific culprit. Assuming you are already planting some species of plants that are naturally resilient and taking steps to enrich soil and rotating your crops. If you still find you have insect issues, there are some do it yourself methods that may help.

  • Planting Herbs
  • Essential Oils
  • Using Row Covers

Planting Herbs for Pest Repellent

Herbs are a great edition to basic fruit and vegetable plants in a season plot. By choosing the right herbs to plant around the outside edges of your garden area can help deter pests and add some additional flavor to foods you prepare. Consider planting:

  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Basil

Essential Oils to Repel Insects in Gardens

Having covered herbs it should come as no surprise that there are essential oils that can be used for the same purpose. Each herb listed about can be used in essential oil form as well. Mix 10 drops of essential oil to 4oz of water in a spray bottle. Spray the exterior area surrounding your garden giving about an 8-12 inch clearance from where your plants start.

This method is another one that is time consuming as you must do this frequently, especially after a rain. My largest garden area is not close to the house it is a decent distance away while I have smaller beds closer to the house. I often found that I would forget the spray on my trek down to work the gardens. So, this method can be effective, if you are a little forgetful like me you may want to look at a different solution.

Row Covers

When in doubt cover the plants. Row covers can be a hand tool when you are faced with an infestation. I once had a cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) infestation so bad I spend an entire day picking them off my plants. Lucky for me the chickens enjoyed them for a late evening snack. We ended up investing in row covers, as we had a large good-looking crop of cabbage going. After painstakingly removing the insects and installing the row covers we enjoyed a tasty harvest of good liking cabbage.

Just make sure you are using a summer weight fabric when using a row cover. If you use a frost cover you may already have it can hold too much heat in and burn up your plants.

Did you learn any new repellent methods for garden pests?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cynthia Hoover

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    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      4 weeks ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Shauna L Bowling, yes moth balls could effect the soil and even plants. I don't particularly care for that method (yuck they stink). I will work on an additional bit for that section. Adding more text to explain a few other ways to use them so they don't come in direct contact with the soil.

      Thank you for commenting and asking the perfect question. While mothballs work for pest deterrents I definitely need to add more details there.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Cyntiha, I love the idea of using shiny windmills to keep birds from eating food crops. I think I'll give that a shot.

      I also have cats. Although I, too, don't like the smell of moth balls, that could be an inexpensive deterrent. Do moth balls affect the soil in any way that would deprive the plants of essential nutrients?

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