Are you frustrated by finding pests in the garden? Don't waste time
and money treating pests. Instead, follow this guide for preventing
garden pests from becoming a problem at all.
Pest problems can be disappointing when a hopefulÂ garden season ends
abruptly because of a pest infestation. This guide will help you better
understand how your garden works soÂ you can grow your best crops.
Preventing garden pests is an essential part of your garden maintenance plan.
12 Steps to Preventing Garden Pests
The following are some ways for preventing pests from taking over your garden
without the use of chemicals.
1: Encourage healthy soil.
Healthy soil makes healthy plants with strong immune systems, which are better
able to fight off diseases and pests. Healthy soils feed and shelter beneficial
Natural fertilizers help build healthy soil. Fish and seaweed fertilizer, used
once a month, can activate soil microbes.
2: Choose resistant varieties.
This is an easy tip for preventing garden pests: Choose plant varieties that are
naturally resistant to pests. Seed catalogs list varieties that are known for
3: Plant in the right place.
Reserve plants that need full sun for full sun areas. Likewise, plant crops according
to water needs. If a crop requires more water to stay healthy, grow it in an area that
stays moist longer.
Crops may tolerate less than ideal conditions for a time, but eventually the stress
will weaken them and they can succumb to pests. Planting in the right place is an
easy step toward preventing garden pests.
4: Attract beneficial insects.
Beneficial insects prey on pests, and they will naturally come to your garden in search
of nectar, pollen, and shelter. Encourage them to stick around by growing flowers that
meet these needs.
Plant tall flowers and perennials at the garden edge, such as: comfrey, sunflowers,
Provide beneficial insects with habitat and they will lay their eggs nearby to grow
an army. Beneficial insect patrols are key in preventing garden pests.
5: Repel pests.
Strong-scented herbs can deter pests when planted among or near the vegetables. This
is a super-easy way to support your efforts in preventing garden pests.
Some of my favorite strong-scented annuals include calendula, coriander, and garlic.
Plant strong-scented, perennial herbs at the edge. Anise hyssop, chives, and thyme
are some of my favorites.
6: Rotate crops.
Crop rotation confuses pests, reduces their concentration in specific areas, and helps
you manage soil fertility.
Leave two to three years between planting members of the same crop family in a
Of course, this can be challenging in a small or shady garden. However, if a crop is
overcome by a pest, don’t plant it in that spot for at least two years. Or plant a
cover crop to allow that area to rest for a season.
This is a difficult step to take in preventing garden pests, but your patience will
7: Practice interplanting.
Interplanting means alternating specific crops, herbs, and flowers to confuse pests.
Pests enjoy monocrops, which is why industrial farms are often heavily sprayed with
pesticides. Instead of monocrops, alternate rows of vegetables with rows of beneficial
insect-attracting and pest-repelling herbs and flowers.
Confusing pests is a sneaky trick for preventing garden pests from finding your crops.
For example, I interplant my cabbage family crops with cilantro, calendula, and onions.
8: Use floating row covers.
Summer-weight row cover allows water and light to penetrate while keeping pests out.
You may only need to use floating row cover over young plants until they’re established.
Weigh down the sides with heavy objects like bricks or rocks.
If a particular pest on a particular crop seems to be a recurring problem for you—and
you’ve followed the other tips in this article to the letter—you might consider using
permanent low tunnel hoops for the problem crop.
Be sure to lift the cover for a few hours each morning to let pollinators in.
9: Create permanent walkways.
Permanent pathways encourage beneficial insects while temporary pathways that are tilled
each year destroy them and their habitat.
The type of pathway material you use will depend on your specific situation. White clover,
wood chips, or gravel are a few of my favorites.
Having permanent pathways allows you to have permanent beds where you can continue to build
fertility over time. Better fertility can, of course, support your garden’s resistance to
‘catching a bug’.
10: Found a few pests? Leave them be.
Having a few pests is actually a good thing. Seems counterproductive, but without a few pest
“baits”, the beneficial insects that dine on them wouldn’t stick around! Beneficial insects
are attracted to gardens that have their favorite foods.
In other words, the occasional pest “bait” is okay.
11: Handle an outbreak.
When a few pests turn into an outbreak, remove infested plants to keep the damage from spreading.
It bears repeating that I don’t promote treating pests with pesticides—organic or not. Rather,
start back at #1 above and work through the prevention tactics in this guide.
However, if you’re going to treat an outbreak, identify pests, beneficial insects, AND the larval
stages of each. Take a look at the photo below: Did you know that these critters are ladybug larvae,
a precious beneficial insect?
12: Be proactive rather than reactive.
A pest outbreak is an opportunity to learn how to strengthen your garden ecosystem.
12 Steps to Preventing Garden Pests Naturally
BACK TO TOP
to a Vibrant
Choose the Right
Trellis for your
BACK TO TOP
The Tree of Life
Web Project (ToL)
of Natural History
Animals and Their Habitats
The Encyclopedia of Life
The Xerces Society
BACK TO TOP