Your lawn and garden are your own personal corner of Eden. You cherish the lush, emerald green lawn where your pets romp and the children play. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, you might hang your hammock and bask in the beauty of your property.
To maintain this idyllic harmony with nature requires your constant vigilance. You are not alone in admiring your property. Countless pests see your lawn and garden as a prime habitat supporting their need for food, shelter, water, and breeding resources. Sap-sucking insects feed on the juices that sustain your grass and vegetable plants.
Burrowing animals, too, will move in, feasting on the roots of your lawn and shrubs. Pests also seek water, shelter, and the chance to mate. Understanding what draws pests to your property will help you to keep them at bay.
Many species have evolved to thrive on the outskirts of human activity. Mice and rats make a tidy living off our garbage. Moles, voles, and gophers build extensive tunnel systems under our lawns and gardens. The gophers feed on bulbs and roots, while voles prefer grass stems and roots. Voles are hunting insects that cause extensive cracking throughout your lawn.
In a strange way, pest activity in your garden attests to its vitality. Just as a healthy garden attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and honey bees, it also entices pests. Luckily, there are ways to protect your lawn and garden. Let’s look at three ways to deter pests from invading your paradise.
Table of Contents
- Method #1: Keep the Yard Clean
- Method #2: Deep Clean Your Home
- Method #3: Get Help From a Professional Lawn Company
- How to Prevent Pest Invasion From Happening in the Future
Method #1: Keep the Yard Clean
Our lawns and gardens are constantly changing. Grass and shrubs grow, leaves fall, flowers bloom, fade, and set seeds. These constant changes can keep you from noticing pest activity. It’s essential to stay alert and aware of the signs of a pest invasion.
As you survey your garden, keep in mind what pests are looking for. Overgrown grass and shrubs offer shelter and good cover for pests as they hide from predators and people. Brush piles, stacks of firewood, leaf litter, weeds, and pulled weeds that haven’t yet found the composter offer excellent concealment to pests. They also often provide opportunities for a pest to snag a piece of fruit or catch an insect.
An overgrown or unkempt property is an open invitation to pests, offering the ideal conditions for them to thrive. Insects and rodents take refuge in weedy spots and overgrown shrubs. Broken sprinkler heads and leaky faucets provide the water they need. And many can nest and breed in their hiding spots.
No wonder pests keep coming back! The first step to protect your home and property from pests is to make it less inviting. You don’t have to plow your garden under and replace it with concrete. But regular cleaning is a must.
Tips for Effective Yard Maintenance
Have you ever wondered how your neighbor manages to maintain such a beautiful garden without a sign of pest activity? It’s not luck. It’s work! However, cleaning the yard to deter pests is smart work more than hard work, as it involves strategizing to deny pests the habitat they need.
Let’s take a look at critical tasks for pest prevention.
- Distance the Woodpiles: Keeping a stack of firewood stacked by the door is convenient, especially in winter. It’s also an ideal cover for rodents and insects who hide in the woodpiles and can catch a ride indoors when you light your next fire. To cut down on this, store firewood at least 20 feet away from your house walls so pests don’t homestead so close to your foundation. Set the wood up off the ground to allow airflow under and around the wood. This prevents moisture from collecting to support pests and leave your wood wet.
- Gutter Maintenance: Gutters blocked with fallen leaves and twigs make a terrific pest habitat. A clogged gutter provides food, water, and good shelter. Clean your gutter twice a year, in early spring and fall, to keep from hosting pests.
- Regular Trimming: Routinely cutting the grass and trimming shrubs and trees keeps them healthy and minimizes hiding spots for pests. Keep all tree branches and climbing vines well away from your roofline. Otherwise, they make handy roadways for rodents and other pests to reach your roof and attic to nest.
- Remain Alert to Disturbance: While your garden is always changing, some changes appear out of place. Keep watch for irregular, discolored patches in your lawn, mounds of soil, and hollow sounds in tree trunks or branches. All of these are signs of pest activity. When you note odd changes, investigate.
Each of these steps to deter pests also supports your garden’s health and beauty. Regular care keeps the work easy. Maintaining your lawn and shrubs takes far less effort than reclaiming an overgrown lot from weeds and pests.
Avoid Creating Pest Habitats
Pests need drinking water as much as they need food. Leaky faucets, puddles, and broken sprinkler heads are a boon to insects and rodents, providing the water they need. Empty buckets, tire swings, birdbaths, discarded catch trays, and other receptacles gather rainwater.
This standing water does more than sustain pests on your property. It also provides an ideal habitat for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Regularly check for standing water, and keep faucets and sprinkler heads in good repair.
If you’re in the habit of storing unused items like old furniture, shelves, or unused pots in your yard, you’re providing shelter for pests. Insects and rodents can create homes out of small spaces. Keeping your yard clear of clutter makes it far more attractive to people, with fewer hiding spots for pests.
We’ve addressed water and shelter, but pests need food, too. While some are content to feast on roots, leaves, and berries, rodents like a more varied diet, and your bird and squirrel feeders are favorites on their menu.
Spilled seed quickly attracts mice and rats as well as birds and squirrels. Keep your feeders clean and spilled seed picked up. Cleanliness also benefits the birds you feed by preventing mold and mildew that build up on spilled seed.
Finally, keep your trash in sealed bins to prevent pest activity. Human trash supports a wide variety of pest species. Seal your trash cans to avoid attracting freeloading pests. Likewise, keep all pet food and bird feed stored in airtight containers so rodents and insects cannot mistake it for a buffet.
Method #2: Deep Clean Your Home
Our yards and gardens are extensions of our homes. Pests do not see the walls of your home as barriers they must respect. Most pests are happy to move right in when they have the chance. They make cozy homes in our attics, basements, closets, and pantries. Fleas and other pests will just as readily lay their eggs in your carpet as under your shrubs. Keeping your home clean and free from stray food and water makes it far less inviting to pests.
Importance of Cleaning in Pest Prevention
Many pests, like fleas, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, silverfish, mice, and rats, seek out our homes for the habitat they need. They enjoy the same moderate temperatures we favor and often shelter from storms or cold weather in our homes. Any type of clutter makes for a terrific pest shelter.
Spilled or leftover food, scattered crumbs, and overflowing trash cans provide plenty of nourishment. Saturated sponges, dishwater, liquid caught in dirty dishes, and dripping faucets offer the water that pests need.
Keeping your house clean deprives pests of a needed habitat, making your home far less attractive. If they cannot find the food, water, shelter, or breeding grounds they need, pests will move out. Therefore, it’s important to know which housecleaning chores are the most effective for pest prevention.
Detailed Home Cleaning Tips
Let’s take a look at where to focus your housecleaning efforts to disrupt a pest habitat.
- Regular Trash Disposal: Managing your trash is as important indoors as out. We routinely discard food scraps, and they can become a feast for pests, from ants to rodents. Exchange an open trash can for one with a tight seal, and keep all litter promptly put away. Rinse any food containers well before discarding them so they don’t attract pests.
- Secure Food Storage: Insects and other pests have impressive senses and can smell a meal through cardboard. Therefore, it’s best to use airtight containers to store food in the pantry or on your kitchen counter. These containers will help keep cookies, crackers, and other food items fresh and away from pests.
- Organize the Pantry: Pests are wily. Despite your best efforts, an occasional pest may breach your home and start looking for food. Keeping the pantry neat and organized will make it quicker and easier to spot any disturbance. Investigate any signs of pest activity promptly.
- Sanitize Soft Surfaces: Fleas, mites, and bedbugs are happy to make their home in your bedding, carpets, or upholstery. Frequent vacuuming collects adult pests, their eggs, and larvae. If you have a severe infestation, the heat and soap from steam cleaning the carpet will kill them. Launder your bedding (and your pets’ bedding) frequently at high temperatures to eliminate pests and allergens.
- Know Your Home: Some homes may be more prone to pest activity than others due to certain features they have. Pests will capitalize on any opportunity wherever they find it, from a damp basement to an attic stuffed with old papers. Get to know your home’s idiosyncrasies, and periodically inspect them for pest activity. You might consult a pest control professional for guidance or tips. Seal any gaps around your windows and doors, mend any torn window screen, and keep the chimney flue clean and unblocked.
Thoroughly and repeatedly cleaning your home protects you and your family from pest invasions. With every scrub, sweep, scour, and seal, you make your home a cleaner, safer, and more comfortable living space — free from pests.
Method #3: Get Help From a Professional Lawn Company
Pests are first attracted to a yard before they can enter a home. That’s why maintaining a clean, well-kept lawn and garden is essential to keeping your home free of pests. But don’t we all want a bit more than just a pest-free outdoor environment? Wouldn’t it be great to have a beautiful garden and lush, soft grass framing our home, welcoming bare feet and summer picnics?
Sometimes, it’s best to call on the pros.
Even the most ardent gardeners can benefit from professional lawn care services. These specialists are experts in soil health, lawn care, shrub trimming, and pest control. They are pros at recognizing and combating the pests that are seeking shelter in your garden. They don’t let pests take over. Professional lawn care providers are adept at bringing out the best in your lawn and garden while keeping pests at bay.
Professional lawn care companies have specialized knowledge about soil health, local pests, and growing conditions in your community. They know what your lawn needs to thrive and grow in beauty. But they also have all the necessary tools and the knowledge to use them. Lawn care is hard work. Too often, homeowners make costly mistakes and wind up with a sore back when they do their own lawn care chores.
If you want a gorgeous lawn and garden without pests, consider what the pros have to offer.
Why You Need Professionals: Decoding Nature’s Distress Signals
Your lawn and garden are full of signs that reflect insect activity and other challenges. Where homeowners may struggle to interpret these signs, pest control professionals are fluent in the language your garden speaks.
These are some signs of pest activity your lawn care professionals are watching for:
Ant Infestation: It’s easy to overlook a stray ant or two, but professionals know ants seldom travel alone. They seek out the lines of ants marching toward a food source. They also watch for more subtle signs, like the tiny piles of loose soil that develop outside ant nests.
Gopher Activity: A single mound of soil doesn’t seem like much cause for alarm. But the pros know that the single mound you see is part of an extensive underground network of tunnels beneath your lawn. These tunnels compromise your lawn’s root structure and form pathways where other pests can travel.
Grubs: A patchy lawn with scattered bare spots is a sign your grass is under attack, and grubs are the likely culprits. Grubs look like fat, white, C-shaped caterpillars. They are the immature form of June bugs and Japanese beetles. They feast on grass roots and the roots of other garden plants, causing wilting, browning, and even death.
Cutworms: These nasty caterpillars wrap around the stems of young plants, cutting them off near the base. When you find newly planted annuals and vegetables fallen over, cutworms are the likely perpetrators. Lawn care professionals recognize these and more subtle signs and take corrective action.
Chinch Bugs: These sap-sucking pests drain the life from grass stems, leaving yellow patches in the lawn. If you know what to look for, you can spot these tiny insects in your grass, especially in warmer weather. Lawn care pros know what to look for and can take corrective action.
Voles: Voles are busy rodents that feed on plant roots, leaving wilted plants in their wake. They do not burrow under the soil but wear long, snaking trails through your lawn and flower beds.
Moles: Moles are mammals that look a lot like voles. But they dig deep tunnels through your property as they seek to feed on insects. Raised ridges of soil running through your property and volcano-shaped mounds are clear signs of vole activity. Though moles don’t feed on your plants, they damage plant roots and leave your lawn uneven with occasional small sinkholes.
These are just some of the pest signs lawn care professionals watch for and respond to when protecting your lawn and garden. Best of all, they know the precise steps to take to stop these critters in their tracks.
Professional lawn care is about more than fancy tools, but they certainly help. Lawn aerators perforate the soil, facilitating the flow of water, oxygen, and nutrients to the lawn roots. Dethatchers remove the dense buildup of grass thatch that can eventually suffocate a lawn if not tended to.
Soil pH testers measure your soil’s acidity and indicate what nutrients are needed to bring it into balance. High-precision sprays evenly distribute fertilizers, herbicides, and other treatments exactly where they’re needed without wasteful overspray.
Lawn care pros have the right equipment for the many jobs your lawn and garden need. They also have years of experience and training to use it effectively.
Soil Treatment and Fertilizer: Not Just for Plant Health
Your lawn and garden need proper soil nutrition to flourish. Fertilizing feeds the soil and plants, supporting healthy growth. However, the benefits of healthy plants extend well beyond the aesthetics of beautiful plants.
Healthy plants have their own natural defenses against pests and other problems. Healthy plants are resilient and able to withstand excessive heat or drought. They can also ward off disease and pest-borne pathogens that would kill other plants.
Nutritionally depleted soil and improper fertilizing leave your lawn and plants without natural protection against pests and pathogens. Feeding the soil feeds plants, helping them to resist pests and disease. Quality lawn care is an integral part of a holistic approach to pest control.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach to pest control that emphasizes sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. Rather than just spraying chemicals to control pests, IPM coordinates cultural, biological, and mechanical strategies for pest management. The goal is to control pests while minimizing the use of pesticides and damage done to the environment.
Professional lawn care companies play an integral role in IPM. These experts implement preventative care that results in lush lawns that are less attractive to pests. They may introduce beneficial insects to prey on pests, provide highly targeted lawn treatments, and monitor your property for signs of pest activity.
Integrated Pest Management is not just for the pros. Every homeowner who keeps their lawn, garden, and home well-maintained to reduce pests is taking part in the IPM solution.
How to Prevent Pest Invasion From Happening in the Future
Life attracts life. Animals, birds, and insects will continue to seek new habitats where they can feed, drink, mate, and shelter. So, the strategies discussed above must be part of an ongoing effort to protect your home and garden from pests. You now have the details of three effective and integrated methods to safeguard your home and family from pesky intruders.
Pest control isn’t just a matter of reacting to infestations. You can take proactive measures to nourish your property and prevent pests from invading your personal Eden.