For many homeowners, keeping their yards healthy, beautiful and free of pests and weeds is expensive and involves the use of chemicals. But it doesn’t have to be.
You can make safe and effective sprays to rid your lawn of pests that are more environmentally friendly without hurting your household budget. Best of all, they’re easy to make and use common products.
Pepper spray for insects
A variety of insects can be deterred and even killed with this pepper insecticide. In a food processor or blender, combine two hot peppers (or three teaspoons of ground cayenne), one large onion, a bulb of garlic and 1/4 cup of water. It will make a rough mash.
Put the mash in a bucket and cover with one gallon of hot, but not boiling, water. Allow to sit for 24 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth and add a few drops of liquid dish soap. This will help it to stick to the plants. However, too much soap can damage the leaves.
Use rubber gloves and goggles when applying this to your plants. As irritating as it is to bugs, it is pretty similar to pepper spray. You can use this on flowers, including roses, and in your garden, to turn away bug infestations.
Kill lawn weeds with vinegar
Lawn weeds, including dandelions, can be killed with vinegar. Make a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water and spray those weeds with the mixture. They will be dead within a couple of days. This works well on any weeds with long roots.
Killing caterpillars two ways
Caterpillars can cause damage to all kinds of plants. You can save your plants from them and other soft-bodied pests like aphids and spider mites with one of two easy-to-make mixtures.
The first is saltwater. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in 1.5 gallons of hot water. Allow to cool to room temperature before putting in your sprayer.
The second is vegetable oil, which seems to smother soft-bodied pests. Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of vegetable oil. For small jobs, add 2.5 teaspoons of the mixture to a cup of water in your spray bottle. For big jobs, add 3/4 cup to a gallon of water.
Either of these mixtures can damage plants. It’s best to test them on the plants to gauge their sensitivity. Apply a little of the mixture to the leaves and observe over a couple of days. If they wilt or look burned, they’re too sensitive.
Use salt on walkways, driveways and patios
At the end of winter, you can buy rock salt at discounted prices. It will kill the weeds that poke up through concrete, asphalt, brick and paver stone. Be aware that it can erode concrete and any ground where salt is applied will remain barren.
Killing ants with cornmeal
Make sure there’s no threat of rain. Sprinkle cornmeal around the outside of the house and around ant hills. The ants will eat the cornmeal and get thirsty. When they drink water, it causes the cornmeal they’ve eaten to swell and they die.
As with anything, use caution. While you don’t want the pests, you don’t want to harm your plants. Consult your lawn and garden specialist; they may have more tips and tricks for controlling pests with do-it-yourself pesticides.