If you’re excited to get back out in the yard, make sure that your garden habits encourage the best visitors. To keep pests away, you may need to engage in some pre-emptive work, such as choosing the right mulch. You may also need to go high-tech to keep down other pests.
Why Garden Grooming Is Pest Control
When the mosquitoes thrive, the outdoors becomes a miserable place. If you’re working out how to choose a backyard mosquito control system, make sure you engage in some basic maintenance.
Leave no standing water. If you have rain barrels, keep them covered or netted. Ensure that birdbaths have a circulating pump, or consider adding a solar fountain to your birdbath to keep water cycling. Mosquitoes need standing water for their larva to grow.
Finally, invest in the right plants. Find a spot for a perennial bed and load it with lavender; in the pots around your patio, plant marigolds, and citronella. Add garlic and basil to your edible herbs bed, and if you’ve got space, add pennyroyal to your borders. Be sure to keep pennyroyal far from edibles, and if you have pets that like to chew up your plants, avoid pennyroyal as too much can be toxic. Peppermint can send mosquitoes away, but it can also take over your garden. Plant with containment in mind.
Fleas need hosts, but they also love dark corners. Trim away shrubs that are close to your home. Put down cedar mulch around your foundation. If you’ve got new plants that need mulch, make sure you use a large-particle mulch rather than a fine product. Sawdust can limit the oxygen and nutrients that get to the roots of young plants, so you want a hearty, chunky mulch around the base of new plantings.
If you love to feed the hummingbirds, you’ve probably also got wasps. These brutal pests love anything sweet, so take care to always pick up after dining out. Be especially careful with soda cans. Rinse and recycle quickly.
Carefully review your home and outbuildings for any cracks or crevices that can be home to wasps. If you have any structure in your yard that is hollow-tubed metal, such as a garden fence, dog run, or clothesline, make sure you cap the ends. Wasps can make extensive homes inside these tubes and get very territorial if you bump them, such as a garden tool or lawnmower.
Flies, like everything else, have to eat. They’re also not fussy. If you have pets, pick up after them every day. Remember that anything a fly walks on will get carried with them, reducing your exposure to harmful bacteria by staying on top of animal waste. Carefully review compost bins for moisture, and if you notice flies, add soil, sawdust, clippings, or straw to the bin to dry up any food product that attracts flies.
If you boost your garden soil with manure compost, try to get it applied before a stretch of dry weather. Spread it thin so it will dry out before tilling it under or shoveling it into the soil. Wet manure is heaven to flies. Get this manure spread lightly while there is sunlight to dry enough for them to lose interest.
These pests also love standing water. Try to water early in the day and soak the soil under the mulch at a trickle, rather than sprinkling at a high volume and leaving water to stand. Carefully monitor your fruit trees for any fallen fruit and discard them quickly. This fruit can also draw wasps and bees, so handle them carefully.
Monitor your trash bins. Strap down the lids when possible, and carefully rinse all your recyclables. If you must discard meat products or anything with animal fats, try to double bag it to reduce temptation, both to feed and to lay eggs.
Indoors, take care not to overwater your plants. If you notice dying leaves, try to prune away that section of the plant rather than just removing the leaves. If your winters are cold, you may have pests trying to find a place to reproduce indoors; diseased houseplants can serve as a host for pests in a pinch.
Good gardening can reduce your pest exposure. It also looks and smells better than wet manure, spoiled compost, and pet waste. Finally, it’s a wonderful excuse to buy new plants!