Having a deck, a patio or a garden can make life at your home infinitely more pleasant, but pests can ruin the whole experience. Whether it’s mosquitoes, cockroaches or other animals, you want to keep certain kinds of wildlife away from these areas so you can enjoy them for yourself. Here are some tips on how to do that.
1. Plant the right flowers
Flowers obviously attract insects, such as bees and butterflies, as well as birds. All these animals are essential to the survival of the environment, and in general terms you should be planting flowers in your garden which attract them. However, there are certain flowers, herbs and other plants you can sow near your garden furniture, or put in planters on your patio or deck, which will keep stinging insects away. Garden designer P. Allen Smith offers a comprehensive list of these plants, which includes marigold, artemisia, basil, catnip, garlic, lavender and dill.Smith also makes the excellent point that you can plant sunflowers to draw ants away from your other, weaker plants.Ants will move their colonies onto the sunflowers, and these sturdy plants will suffer no damage.
2. Choose the right materials
When it comes to patios and decks, choosing the best construction materials can help you keep bugs at bay. For the most bug-resistant option, choose composite decking, which will also prevent rot and discoloration, unlike wooden decking. It’s no wonder that these Red Deer hardware stores call composite decks an inspiration for care-free living, as this is the lowest-maintenance kind of decking you can find. The name ‘composite’ refers to the mixture of wood and plastic used to produce this material, but don’t worry: a composite deck will look just as beautiful as a wooden one, and these days recycled plastic is commonly used to make composite decking, so you won’t be having a negative effect on the environment. The fact that these decks are not made entirely of wood is what makes bug infestations much less likely.
3. Use warm-colored LED lightbulbs
A studypresented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciencerevealed the best and worst types of lightbulbs for attracting insects to your patio or deck. White incandescent bulbs are the most attractive to insects, whereas yellow LED lights work best in repelling bugs. Perhaps surprisingly, the study revealed that warm LED bulbs are even more effective than specialized bug-repelling lights at keeping earwigs and certain other insects at bay.
4. Try certain smells
There are many scents which can drive away insects—the same ingredients which make up the bug repellents you spray on your body will also work as essential oils in an oil burner or diffuser. These include lavender, eucalyptus and lemon tree oil. If you don’t want to buy an oil diffuser or an oil burner, you can also use citronella candles.
5. Clean your deck or patio regularly
Unsurprisingly, one big draw for any kind of pests is spilled food and drinks. If you are in the habit of eating and drinking on your deck or patio, therefore—and who isn’t?—you should make sure to clean up any spillages as soon as possible and give the whole space a good scrub at least once a week. Warm soapy water and a floor brush with soft bristles should do the trick for tiled patios and any kind of wooden or composite decking. You can also use a pressure washer with a soap dispenser, especially if your deck or patio is visibly dirty and has dried mud stuck to it.
6. Sow bug-resistant crops
If you have a vegetable garden or an allotment, you can choose crops which have been bred specifically to resist certain types of pests. For instance, the King Harry potato (like its predecessor, the dubiously named Prince Hairy potato) has been bred to be resistant to potato tuber moths, also known as tuberworms, a widespread type of insect whose larvae mine into tubers through the eye and cause the plant to die. Furthermore, certain kinds of plants are naturally highly resistant to pests, without the need for special breeding; these include garlic, onions and leeks. Not a bad crop to grow, given how widely used they are in cooking! You can even use these crops as ‘companion plants’ to others, which means planting a highly bug-resistant plant (such as garlic) next to a less resistant one (such as cucumbers) to protect the weaker one from pests.
7. Install physical barriers
Depending on the kind of pest which you are trying to keep out, you might need to install different kinds of physical barriers around your garden, patio or deck. Crushed eggshells, coffee grounds and copper wire, tape or mesh are used to keep snails and slugs away from gardens, while nets will keep larger animals such as birds and mice at bay. If you are planning to install a net, however, make sure you choose one with fine enough mesh that birds won’t get their heads stuck in the holes. To protect individual plants, you can buy a glass or plastic cloche or even make one yourself using the bottom of a plastic bottle. Make sure that there are no gaps along the bottom of the cloche and that the ground is as even as possible, or this barrier won’t be as effective as it could be.
8. Water your garden in the morning
Finally, home and garden magazine The Spruce suggests that watering your garden in the morning might help keep pests at a minimum. First of all, many bugs tend to gather in the evening and prefer damp environments, and watering in the morning will ensure that the plants are dry again by the evening, thus making them a less inviting environment for pests. Secondly, your plants will be well hydrated at the hottest time in the day, which will make them healthier and less likely to wilt, and therefore more able to use their own bug-repellent defenses.