Pests are the bane of every gardener. You spend hours tending to seeds and seedlings, encouraging young plants to grow… only to step outside one day and find the slugs, cats, butterflies, and other pests have got to them. Digging them up, eating them, laying eggs on them… you name it, whatever happens, it can leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed.

But while you can buy pesticides, pellets, and other chemical-based solutions, you may not want to go down this route. Maybe you have pets you need to protect, or you simply don’t like the idea of using harmful chemicals. Plenty of people want to make their gardens hedgehog-friendly, too, and using natural pest-controlling solutions will help make this a reality in your garden.

We’ve put together some suggestions to help you protect the crops you grow at home.

Install some plant covers

If you’re growing vegetables, make sure you protect them throughout the growing season. There are plenty of products to help you do this. Grow tunnels, netting, and domes can all be purchased to cover plants so pests cannot reach them. Grow tunnels are great if you want something quick and easy to put up and take down at the end of the season. Domes are usually quick to put over individual plants, too.

If you need to cover a larger area, purchase some protective netting to ensure birds, butterflies, and other pests cannot reach your plants. You can also buy stakes and poles to make your own grid with, before laying the netting over the top and securing it in place. You can water your plants through this, and they’ll be able to breathe, but nothing else can get through.

Keep on top of weeding

This might sound like an odd suggestion. However, if you’ve got rotting flowers and fallen leaves around, they’ll provide a haven for all kinds of nasties. Don’t make your garden any more inviting than it needs to be. Oh, and be very careful what you put in your compost bin. If a plant has clearly been infested by a pest – no matter what that pest might be – get rid of it, don’t recycle it by composting it down. If you do that, it will end up back in your garden in no time. Not the result you want.

Focus on fencing

Avon 3' x 6' Vertical Hit & Miss Fence Panel - Closed Boarded

Fencing can keep some animals out, but not all. It won’t work for cats, for example, but if next door’s dog keeps inviting itself into your garden, installing a good fence will keep it out. If you want to stop animals digging underneath fencing, use wire fencing and install it below ground level and up to the required height. Make sure the holes aren’t big enough to allow predators through.

You can also buy plastic strips with non-sharp spikes on them to install along the tops of walls and fences, if you’re bothered by cats coming into your garden. This will also prevent birds landing and creating mess.

Create your own organic pest sprays

Many animals hate the smell of garlic. Adding some garlic cloves to a spray bottle filled with water will keep a lot of things away. A salt spray is another good idea as it will get rid of slugs. Those little horrors also hate copper, so a reel of copper tape will come in handy around the rims of plant pots.

Crushed egg shells and other sharp items – even some sharp gravel would work – will prevent snails and slugs from getting near your plants, too.

How to keep cats out of your garden

Cats hate certain plants, so it pays to plant a few of these in your garden to keep them away. Garlic and chives are particularly good for this. anything that has a citrus aroma will also work. You can either make a water spray with peels in it to flavour it, or you can throw the peels onto your garden. Either way, you will find the cats will start avoiding that area.

Just remember that any natural spray such as the ones mentioned here will need refreshing frequently. If it rains, make sure you head outside and spray some fresh garlic spray or citrus aromas onto your garden to deter them again.

Regular efforts bring the best rewards

Nothing will work unless you keep at it. So, when you have decided which methods you are going to use, you should make sure you practise them regularly. If your citrus spray and peels are working and bringing the desired results, freshen them regularly and incorporate this to reduce pests in your garden.

It’s good to know you can protect your plants from pests without resorting to harmful chemicals and similar items. Your garden can be pest-free and hedgehog-friendly all in one hit.