Natural Ways to Repel Insects From Your Vegetable Garden

With summer now in sight and the outdoors season not too far away, it’s time to put a little thought into your garden. There’s a lot to be said about that time of year, but one of the few downfalls is the increase in insects. It’s hard to enjoy a meal out on the patio, a quick evening stroll or even a brief weeding power session if you’re constantly swatting away the bugs. You want to be out making the most of the great weather, not taking shelter inside. And as topic of actually killing insects has been discussed at length already at VeggieBoards, it makes sense repel insects first rather than have to kill them.

The problem with insects is they can harbor and spread diseases. So they’re not just annoying, but a health hazard. They can bite you and your family, make their way into your food, or even infest your bedding and clothing.

The automatic instinct is to reach for some type of pesticide. But pesticides are highly toxic. Sure, they’ll get rid of the insects, but they’re also exposing you to a myriad of nasty chemicals. Instead, why not try some natural insect repelling methods? Prevention is better than a cure. Here are a few natural ways to keep insects out of your garden and away from your house.

Ditch the water features

Standing water attracts mosquitoes and encourages them to breed. They’ll lay eggs in the water and spawn. Make sure there’s no standing water in your garden – for example, bird baths, saucers for flower pots, buckets, ponds or small pools - or try erecting nets to keep them away. And don’t forget to check you rain gutters. If dirty water is pooling in there, you can bet the bugs will follow. Clean them up ASAP.

Go easy on the scent

Perfume or scented moisturizers/lotions can attract insects. While we all like to smell good, weigh up the potential risks and rewards here.


When you’ve just finished a good workout and are sticky from the exercise, your body emits moisture and the sweet smell of sweat, which in turn attracts insects like mosquitoes. Likewise if you’re stressed or otherwise agitated.

Wear light colored clothing

Mosquitoes are attracted to dark hues, so opt for pastels and brights to save yourself a few bites.

Buy some citronella

Citronella candles - made from the pungent oil of citronella grass - act as a deterrent to flying pests with their smell. Leave them outside near the most trafficked areas and enjoy the added protection.

Keep your lawns under control

Long grass, weeds and untidy, overgrown areas are prime breeding grounds for insects. They’re probably lurking in there right now. So grab your lawn mower, get them mowed, and get the bugs under control.

Finally, your best bet to keep nasty bugs out of your garden permanently is to plant herbs and plants that repel the critters. Here are some of the most effective repellent plants to try.


You burn the candles; why not cultivate the plant itself? Citronella is the most common natural mosquito repellent, and the living plant is the strongest of all. Citronella grass can be grown within the ground, or in a pot or planter, depending on the climate. As a grass, it’s fairly low maintenance. Look for either the genuine Cybopogon nardus or Citronella winterianus varieties.


A natural mosquito repellent, catnip is relatively easy to grow. It’s related to the mint family and will deter insects when close by. You can even apply crushed catnip leaves onto your skin for an added layer of personal protection. It’s not just a cat toy!


Lemongrass has a strong, distinct smell. You might find it quite pleasant, but rest assured that insects don’t. In fact, it’s quite off-putting to them. It also makes a nice accent plant in a garden.

Mint, basil, rosemary, sage and thyme

Your herb garden can do double duty as an insect repellent. All these fragrant herbs will help keep flies, beetles, and mosquitoes out of your garden.


Horsemint is a hardy perennial plant that repels mosquitoes much like citronella, giving off a strong incense-like smell. It can be sown in the ground or planted in pots. Bonus: You can dry the leaves and make herbal tea. Horsemint leaves can be dried and used to make herbal tea.


Thought these were purely decorative flowers? Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in some commercial insect repellents. They’re inexpensive, colorful and can be grown in pots or planters. Besides repelling mosquitoes, marigolds also repel insects that prey on tomato plants.


Add some more color to your garden with tansies, and help keep insects at bay at the same time. Tansy leaves emit a smelly odor that’s a turn-off to bugs.


Ageratum secretes coumarin, another agent used in commercial repellents. It’s a humble plant, a low-lying decorative plant that comes in blue, violet, pink and white varieties.

With a strategic combination of common plants and herbs, you’ll be well on your way to a pest-free yard. It’s not an entirely foolproof method – nothing is - but it will make spending time in your garden and growing all those veges more pleasant in the summer.

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Post comes courtesy of Allpower, and online garden equipment website with a wide variety of garden tools, including lawn mowers, lawn mowers, pruners and more.