Get rid of garden pests with these 5 tips

Control garden pests: a daisy is infested by aphids
No one wants aphids in their garden: discover our tips for controlling aphids and other pests. © istock

Sadly, pest control is unavoidable if you want to keep your garden looking lovely. After all, no one likes having half-eaten plants or vegetables that have been nibbled at from below. We show you how you can keep slugs, aphids and other unwanted pests away from your garden, and how you can take preventative measures to ward off a pest infestation.


Top garden pest: slugs

Brown slugs crawl along a lettuce in a plant bed.
You need to control these garden pests to stop them ruining your vegetable harvest. © istock

Before we start, it's worth mentioning that not all slugs and snails are pests. Many snails feed on dead plants instead of living ones. The protected Roman snail even helps to keep slugs at bay by eating their eggs. So it's best not to use chemicals when getting rid of slugs to avoid killing the harmless ones.

As a preventative measure, you can build a slug fence or a slug collar to keep these pests away from your plant beds. You can also stem slug infestations in your plant bed by growing plants that slugs hate, like nasturtiums and herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage. Here's a tip: plant a border of winter savory around your plant bed – that will keep the slugs at bay.

If you already have harmful slugs crawling around in your garden, it's best to collect them regularly. You can set up darkened plastic boxes to catch them in. Then let the slugs out somewhere far away from your garden – and your neighbours' gardens.


Pests you need to control: aphids

Control pests: aphids have gathered on a leaf.
You can control garden pests like aphids using nettle spray. © istock

Aphids are small but deadly for plants. Using home remedies such as a solution made from horsetail or nettles is an environmentally friendly way of dealing with them. To make the solution, put around two handfuls of nettles or horsetail in a bucket containing two to five litres of water and let them soak for 12 to 24 hours. Then boil the solution for around 30 minutes and add five times the amount of water to dilute it once it's cooled.You can then spray the solution directly on affected plants. Repeat this process until all pests have been eliminated.


How to keep ants away from your patio and house

Ants have gathered on a broken egg in the garden.
Ants can be useful in the garden, but if they start to intrude on your patio or in the house, they can become a nuisance. © istock

Ants shouldn't always be viewed as pests – they can actually be useful and help maintain the ecological balance of your garden. But as soon as they settle down in between the tiles on your patio or once they get into the house, they quickly become a nuisance. The best way to get rid of them is to move them. Take a clay flower pot (without a hole in the bottom) and fill it with straw or wood shavings. Put it down over the ant's nest – and after a few days it will become their new home. Then you can move the pot far away from your house and patio. You can also keep ants away in the long term using the fragrance of lemon peel or vinegar, or with plants such as lavender.


Drive away moles

A mole peeps out of its molehill.
Moles are a rare species, so you should only drive them away rather than killing them. © istock

First of all, it’s worth noting that moles are a rare species, so you should only drive them away rather than poisoning them or killing them using any other method. Also, if you can overlook their unsightly molehills, they can be quite useful for controlling smaller pests. But if their molehills are beginning to become too much of a nuisance, you can drive them away using simple methods, since they are very sensitive to noise and smell. For example, you can pour some sour milk or buttermilk into mole burrows or stick iron rods into the ground and strike them regularly with a hammer. That will soon drive the moles away.

Or would you prefer a solution that takes care of the problem by itself? In that case, you can install a sonic mole repellent in your garden. The device makes noises at regular intervals that are unpleasant for moles, and will soon drive them away.


How to control voles

a vole sits on a forest floor: these garden pests should also be controlled in the garden.
You should fight this garden pest: the vole © istock

How can you tell if you have voles in your garden? They leave behind heaped mounds of soil which look like molehills. However, they make their holes beside their mounds and not directly underneath them like moles do. Voles also do a lot more damage to your garden than moles: they love eating plant roots, flower bulbs and root vegetables. The worst part is that they eat things from below, so you often only discover the damage at harvest time. Now if you're wondering how to get rid of these pests, we have the answer: you can drive them away by making loud noises at ground level. If this doesn't work, you should set up live traps and then set the voles free in a forest far away from your home.

Make sure that you only handle the traps wearing used garden gloves with bait rubbed into them. This way, you can prevent the trap from smelling of humans. If you don't take this precaution, you might find that the voles don't enter your traps in the first place.