Summer is creeping closer and hopefully this year, we’ll see the sun! As well as battling sunburn, many of us find sharing our gardens with swarms of insects and buzzy critters a nuisance.
Summer should mean days of endless sunshine, warmer temperatures and hours spent in the garden, relaxing and enjoying it. As well as creating a stunning display of blousy blooms and showy shrubs.
Most gardeners become familiar and used to the array of insects in the garden. Although some are not the gardener’s friend – like the whitefly that devours your cabbages or the greenfly that makes your rose bushes their homes – there are some bugs that are helpful.
The ladybird for example, often the basis for gentle characters in children’s books, feeds off the green and white fly and so a colony of ladybirds is nothing to worry about.
But then there are the buzzing bees, the stinging wasps and the irritating midges that seem to by-pass everyone else and make a beeline for you.
The good news, that chemical-laden repellents and sprays are not the only effective solution. Clever planting around the patio and the garden bench can make a real difference to what is attracted, and which bugs are repelled.
Better still, these seven plants are all easily available. Grow from seed or buy as young plants from the plant nursery.
A fragrant plant, its leaves are great for making a homemade mint sauce for the Sunday roast and new potatoes. But it is also a repellent to ants and mice. Ants are not dangerous to human health. Although field mice are cute, you don’t necessarily want them crawling all over your patio furniture. But mint is an aggressive spreader so if you don’t want you whole garden smelling minty fresh, plant it in wooden garden planters instead of the flower border.
Another common, fragrant herb that is used in cooking, especially tomato-based dishes and anything that can attribute its roots to Italy. It also has a range of medical applications as well. But not only that, flies, the bane of our lives in summer, detest this fragrant herb. Flies are not great for human health, spreading disease on everything they land on, so a healthy bunch of basil plants make sense. Water at the roots, and not the leaves for a healthy plant.
A bitter plant that releases a delicious fragrance into cooking. Repelling flies, moths, mice, earwigs and roaches, a bay leaf plant is ideal for planting in a container or in the flower border. Dry the leaves and use in winter stews too.
It may make your kitty go crazy, but the greenery of catnip repels bugs. In fact, there are some studies that show catnip could be just as effective as any DEET-containing bug spray, if not more so. But this time, pick a few leaves, squeeze them between your fingers and palms to release the smell onto your hands, rubs all over your arms, forehead, back of your neck or wherever and enjoy your garden without being plagued by bugs!
Sometimes, the simplest and oldest solutions have been forgotten in the midst of time. But one that hasn’t is the bug-repelling talent of Citronella. Used as a fragrance in all kinds of outside accessories, such as candles, torches and insect repellent products, they can be effective but there is no substitute for the real thing. Plant it around the patio edges, in tubs or wherever you sit in your garden.
A member of the mint family, you will be familiar with its strong lemon-odour when brushed against. And yes, you’ve guessed it – bugs hate it! Used for all kinds of medicinal applications, from cold sores to digestive issues, plant is near the patio, back door, next to pathways or wherever it is knocked against to release the smell that drives bugs away.
Such a relaxing, light scent. Lavender is a gardener’s favourite for releasing its heady scent in the evening air. Cut the scented flowers and gather in small muslin backs to hang in wardrobes, chest of drawers or under your pillow for a summer-time scent in the winter home. But insects don’t like it much. So gather bunches on the windowsills of open windows, as well as planting near seating areas in the garden.
There is no need to rely on chemicals to repel insects – just choose the right plants.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.