Controlling Common Garden Pests

Slugs, snails, aphids, small mammals and other herbivores all have a place in the world — but you probably prefer they'd not choose your garden. Here are natural ways to make your outdoor space less inviting.

  • A
  • A
  • A

E-mail This Page to Your Friends


All fields are required.

Separate multiple e-mail addresses with a comma; Maximum 20 email addresses.


Sending E-mail

Sending E-mail

Or Do Not E-mail


A link to %this page% was e-mailed

Signs of Attack

Shriveled and distorted shoots, leaves, and flowers are the main signs of aphid attacks. You may also see a residue of a sticky honeydew excretion, which can lead to black sooty mold. Also look for aphids’ white discarded skins, which they shed as they grow.

Aphids transmit viruses, and yellow mottling and color streaks in leaves and flowers indicate possible infection. These tiny insects give birth to live young that immediately start feeding, so soft plant tips rapidly become infested. Pinch off heavily affected shoots or blast them with water from a hosepipe.

Adult female aphids can produce five live babies per day for up to 30 days (Image 1). Aphids can be green, black, or other colors, but all do the same damage if left unchecked (Image 2). Clear infestations with fatty acids or plant oil sprays. Keep a ready-to-use spray handy for spot treatments (Image 3).

Birds and Small Mammals

Mice and other rodents dig up spring-sown seeds in the kitchen garden, and in autumn munch on ripening fruits and gnaw newly planted bulbs. Some birds are also a nuisance, pecking flowers, pulling up seedlings, eating brassicas, and stealing fruit.

Avoiding Devastation

Rabbits, squirrels, and pigeons can lay waste to newly planted beds, borders, and pots. To avoid scenes like that shown, erect barriers or netting, or cover seedlings and pots of bulbs with chicken wire. To prevent cats from scratching in the finely tilled soil of seed beds, lay thorny twigs across the surface, or insert short bamboo canes between crops or flowers. Sow large seeds, such as peas and beans, in pots away from hungry mice, and protect trees and shrubs with rabbit guards. If birds and other animals persist in wrecking crops, sow within a protective enclosure.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

More From My First Garden

Dealing With Weeds

Dealing With Weeds

The gardening experts at show how to deal with common weeds.

Determining Your Garden's Soil and Light

Determining Your Garden's Soil and Light

Find out how to make the most of your soil and lighting at

(8 photos)
Beautiful Summer Gardens

Beautiful Summer Gardens

See pictures of gorgeous summer gardens at

(22 photos)

From our Sister Sites:


HGTV Outdoors Newsletter

Find out how to make the most of patios, decks and all your outdoor areas, plus tips from master gardeners for beautiful flower beds and bountiful vegetable gardens.