1. Keep Your Yard Clean and SecureOne way to avoid pest problems is to avoid attracting them in the first place. Secure your garbage can lids and bring in any pet food before you go to sleep at night, so you don't provide a temptation for raccoons, rats, skunks, bears or other critters that may be lurking in your neighborhood. If you have a fenced yard or garden area, be sure to repair any holes that small animals can squeeze through. To deter mosquitoes, remove sources of standing water such as flower pot saucers, small swimming pools and buckets.
2. Let Others Do the Dirty Work
Get rid of insects that you don't want by attracting their natural enemies. Spiders, ladybugs, praying mantises and yellow jackets are just a few examples of insects that are natural predators of many common insect pests. To attract beneficial insects to your yard, you should create a welcoming outdoor environment by providing water, ground cover, and a variety of plants such as thyme, oregano, daisies, dill, fennel, zinnias, and sunflowers. You can also purchase many beneficial insects by mail or in garden centers.
Birds are also wonderful additions to any yard that can help to keep bothersome pests in check. Create a good bird habitat by providing a bird bath, hanging bird feeders in your yard, and planting brightly colored flowers. If you use a bird bath, just remember to clean it out and replenish the water daily to avoid attracting mosquitoes.
3. Use Natural Insect Repellants
Try incorporating plants that repel mosquitoes into your yard space and burning candles with citronella oil when you're outside. Plants known to repel mosquitoes include the mosquito plant, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, and garlic.
You can also make your own natural mosquito repellant using essential oils mixed with cooking oils or alcohol. Just remember to use essential oils with caution as they can be irritating to your skin if you use too much. If you'd rather buy something off the shelf, look for products that are marked as all-natural, herbal, DEET-free, and non-toxic.
4. Check Out Sonic Pest Repellants
For burrowing pests like moles and gophers that dig up yards and garden beds, consider purchasing a solar-powered repellant that emits a low frequency sonic pulse underground. Simply insert the stake into the ground and the sonic pulse should disrupt the animals' sleep cycle and incite them to leave the area.
Some above-ground models promise to deter a wide variety of animals from your yard, including raccoons, rabbits, skunks, mice, deer, stray dogs, and stray cats. Obviously, these devices would not be a good choice if you have cats, dogs, or other pets that go outside in your yard.
5. Consider No-Kill TrapsAnother way of dealing with unwanted critters in your yard is to simply trap them and relocate them to another area. There are several different types of live animal traps on the market in a wide variety of sizes, allowing you to capture anything from weasels, chipmunks, and rats to raccoons, coyotes, and bobcats. Be sure to contact your local Humane Society or game commission before trapping or releasing a wild animal to find out what the laws are in your area.
6. Use Natural Pesticides
There are many natural methods to control pests that are safe for plants and the environment. Some of the most common organic pesticides are insecticidal soap, neem, and horticultural oil. To keep away slugs and snails, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth and crushed eggshells among your plants.
You can also buy many different types of organic pesticides, but remember that just because a product is organic does not mean that it's non-toxic. Be sure to read the product labels for warnings and directions. Also, keep in mind that using insecticides can harm beneficial insects as well as ones that are a nuisance.