It's that time of year when my inner middle-aged-woman wants to escape - and, in particular, she wants to get her gardening gloves on! As I turned 35 last year, I suddenly developed an urge to start gardening - which is exactly what I did. I spent all my birthday money on shrubs, seeds, planters and tools - and have been beavering away ever since.
But with every beautiful garden, comes unwanted pests...... Here are five ways to deter them from your outdoor space – no more nibbles on your prized strawberry plants or bad stinks coming from the flower beds!
1. Plant special flowers and shrubs
Certain plants will deter pests such as cats. For example, you can pick up coleus canina from YouGarden (a plant more commonly known as Scardy Cat) which emits a strong smell felines find offensive. Plant these around fences and in bright sunny areas (the smell gets stronger when the leaves are warm) to put cats off from entering your garden.
2. Use your hair
You probably just throw away that hair clogging up your hairbrush (like a normal person), but did you know it can be used to deter slugs from your plant pots? Use your hair to create a barrier around the bottom of vulnerable plants: it is known to be abrasive to slugs but it also provides other benefits as it decomposes as nitrogen seeps from the hair into the soil.
3. Share a beer or two
Slugs and snails absolutely love beer and you can use this to your advantage to remove them from your back garden. Simply create a trap by pouring a can into a jar and burying it into the soil: they will then smell the beer and crawl into the jar and drown. It might sound like a brutal way of removing the pests but needs must if your cucumber plants are being feasted on regularly - and what a way to go, hey!
4. Get minty fresh
Is your garden saturated with ant nests? While they can be a helping hand in the garden as they eat other insects and improve soil structure, they can become a nuisance when they set up shop underneath a prized plant. If this is happening to you then it might be time to pop some mint in the ground and watch as it deters ants from visiting.
Mint destroys an ant’s sense of smell, which they use to navigate and therefore encourages them to pack up their bags and vacate the premises. You could plant it near the house to stop them from coming inside too. To prevent the mint from spreading like a weed though, push a long tube into the ground – an old rain pipe is a good option – and then plant the mint in this. Due to the tube, the plant’s roots can only grow downwards and therefore can’t spread out into the soil. Another plus of mint growing is that you'll always have plenty on hand for your mojitos.
5. Musical remedy
If birds have been pecking at your tomato plants then you could deter them with a simple CD and some string. Take your old albums and put them to better use: simply hang them on plants somewhere the wind can catch them and make them glint in the sunlight. The bright colours and light will put birds off visiting the plant.
You could also take a shiny Christmas bauble and hang this to create the same effect if you don’t have any CDs you fancy giving up just yet (…it’s okay, I won’t tell anyone about your secret love for Justin Bieber.)