Don’t get me wrong – I love nature. Everything from midges to mosquitoes has its place in the ecosystem. It’s just that I don’t feel all of them have a place in my home or garden.
Gnats, fruit flies, and lugs thrive around this time of year (incidentally, it’s a pretty good time of year to be a weed, too). So I can see the temptation to use weedkillers and insecticides on your lawn come summertime, when your grass is most visible and you’re more likely to have visitors over.
Nonetheless, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises against being too chemical-happy with your garden.
“The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control,” the gardening pros say.
“If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.”
It’s much kinder to the environment – and to your garden – to try alternative methods, like growing companion plants and maintaining good garden hygiene, to achieve a stress-free summer lawn.
So, with that in mind, we’ve found 11 of the best plants that’ll help repel garden pests for you.
1. Basil can banish carrot flies, asparagus beetle, houseflies and mosquitoes.
That’s right – everyone’s favourite addition to a summer salad also doubles up as a natural pest repellent. It works because the smell is too strong for flies to handle.
For that reason, The Farmer’s Almanac recommends crushing some basil leaves and applying the scent to exposed skin while you’re gardening.
2. Lavender can help to get rid of mosquitoes, fleas, flies and moths.
Again, the strong smell scares off any invaders. And aside from its gorgeous aroma, the flower is also pretty drought-resistant – perfect for this, uh, challenging weather.
3. Garlic can help put an end to mosquito and midge infestations.
The tasty plant contains a family of sulphurs that interfere with midge and mosquitoes’ reproductive systems, so they choose to stay away from your fave allium.
You can also create a spray from the bulbs to deter pests if you don’t fancy growing a full-on plant.
4. Save your cabbages from moths by growing dill.
Cabbage moths and spider mites both dislike dill – but black swallowtail butterflies and wasps love them, so bear that in mind before planting.
5. Think of nasturtiums as a kind of sacrificial pawn.
Let’s face it; these bugs are playing chess, not checkers. So it makes sense to plant nasturtiums, also known as a “trap plant”, in your lawn to help checkmate those pesky flies.
It works because aphids, cabbage moths and other pests are attracted to the plant’s leaves – more attracted than they are to your vegetables.
Look, something’s got to take the hit.
6. Protect your tomatoes by growing pretty borage.
Tomato-ruining hornworms hate the stuff, as do cabbageworms. You know who loves it, though? Those sweet, sweet pollinators.
7. Mint smells good, looks good and does good.
The plant can be used to banish houseflies, mosquitoes, midges, and more from your home and garden – and yes, you can get away with placing a potted plant of the stuff on your windowsill to repel beasties.
Just make sure to pick a stronger-scented option, like spearmint or peppermint, to truly banish the bugs.
8. Save your cucumbers, one radish at a time.
Radishes repel cabbage maggots, squash bugs and cucumber beetles. They also grow really quickly, meaning you can still get some in the ground in time for your summer salads.
9. Hate spider mites? Grow chrysanthemums.
The stunning flowers contain a compound called pyrethrum, which you can find in lots of insecticides. As a result, they’re a great (and gorgeous) repellant for spider mites, silverfish, Japanese beetles, ants, bed bugs, roaches and fleas.
10. End ant infestations with bay leaves.
The slow-growing plant (and dinner staple) doesn’t just smell great; it also naturally repels flies, cockroaches and ants. And if you can’t wait for a full-on plant to grow, you can sprinkle the leaves around the parts of your garden you want to protect instead.
11. Wave goodbye to snails and slugs with rosemary.
We really shouldn’t be killing slugs or snails right now, as our ever-dwindling bird population relies on them for food. But if you’re annoyed by them chowing down on your veggies, rosemary can help to repel them from that area of your garden (a potted houseplant should do the job, too).