Fix-It Friday: 6 Non-Toxic Ways To Keep Bugs Out Of Your Garden

Fix-It FridayHome Improvement Leave a Comment

Somebody’s been eating in my rose bed…and I’m pissed!

Being away for a couple of weeks and knowing how quickly things grow this time of year, I was excited to come home and see the progress of my garden. As I peeked out at my precious petunias, to my horror, I found pests had used my garden as a buffet station! Leaves ravaged, buds denuded, stems holding on to their shoots for dear life. I was sick… which quickly turned to pissed.

While I’m not a proponent of chemical pesticides, when I saw the devastation these pests caused all I could think was bring me the DDT. To hell with eco-friendly, I’m going nuclear on these bastards.

Cursing death to the insect-fidels I began riffling through the shed for the makings of a mother-of-all-bug-bombs. Happily my boyfriend pulled the pressure sprayer out of my hands and talked me down.

Vermin vengeance quelled, I knew I could find a non-toxic and civilized way to handle a bug bust, but it would take some investigating. First, I began to identify the various garden felons based on the evidence left behind… shiny sticky residue (aphids), large leaf holes (leafcutter bees), and so on. After much research, I came up with this list of homemade and “green” pesticides and deterrents to keep your garden bugs at bay!

6 Non-Toxic Ways To Keep Bugs Out Of Your Garden

Release the Ladybugs

Beauty ladybugThese insects and others such as Praying Mantis are natural predators to garden pests. Ladybugs especially like to feast on aphids, one of the more common pests. Beneficial bugs like these can be bought in garden supplies stores or by catalog. You can also grow plants that naturally attract these “good” bugs like lemon balm, dill, and Queen Ann’s Lace.

Good Old Soap and Water

Mix 1 cup vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of a bleach-free natural dish soap with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray, coating the plants, under the leaves as well. Do this out of direct sunlight during the coolest time of day. This coat will smother existing insects as well as deter future ones from infesting.


My mom used to place shallow pans filled with beer around the garden. Slugs, snails, and other vermin find the beer much more appetizing than leaves, so let them dive in to their drunken demise. As if I need another reason to love beer.


Many pests have an aversion to garlic. Put large chunks of several garlic cloves in spray bottle filled with water. Let stand for several hours. Spray affected plants with this garlic infused water as directed above. Works well with vampires too…

Copper tape

To deter slugs and snails, wrap copper tape (found at garden supply stores) around planters and planting bed borders. When slugs and snails pass over copper, there’s a chemical reaction with their slime that gives them an electrical charge, making for a perfect barrier around your plants!

Diatomaceous earth

Add this soil around affected plants. It’s a silica based product that by its nature causes many insects to dry up and die. But it’s not poisonous to humans or pets (unless you have a pet tarantula named Harry, like my nephew does).

leaf cutter beeAs for those leafcutter bees that chomped big holes in my rose leaves, my research indicates there’s no effective pesticide for them. They’re also essential pollinators and should not be killed. The solution is to put netting over the affected plants and seal any opening where they’ve tunneled. I still hate ‘em.

Now you’re naturally armed to keep those critters crawling the hell away from your garden!

Norma sig

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.