Companion Planting for Sustainable Pest Prevention

Smart companion planting can be a sustainable pest prevention method for the home garden…

Having a horde of hungry insects devour your hard work can feel devastating to the home gardener, but keep in mind that not all bugs are bad. There are many beneficial predator insects that can help keep garden pests under control – but only if you let them. This is why it’s so important to avoid using chemical pesticides as pest prevention in your garden, which can indiscriminately kill both good and bad bugs alike. (One of my favorite quotes about beneficial bugs is, “Every time you kill a beneficial insect, you inherit their job!“)

There are a number of ways to help prevent pests and encourage beneficial predators to inhabit your garden, but one of the best is by using smart companion planting strategies. This method requires a bit of planning, but you can use it successfully year after year, gradually increasing your beneficial insects and lowering pest pressure over the years, making it a very sustainable way to maintain a healthy garden.

Here are a few helpful companion planting tips for sustainable pest prevention:

Plant to attract beneficial insects …

If you are trying to protect plantings from caterpillars or grubs, chamomile, daisies, and mints can bring wasps and flies to police your beds. Worried about ground pests? Low-lying plantings provide shady cover for battalions of beneficial beetles.

… and to deter destructive pests

The particular pests you are fighting will be unique to your microclimate and crops. Here at Pinetree Garden Seeds in rural Maine, we find ourselves fighting aphids, Colorado potato beetles, Japanese beetles, ticks, and tomato hornworms.

    Chives,  coriander, and nasturtiums are all great choices to control aphid populations.
    Try catnip, tansy, or sage to stop potato beetles.
    Garlic, rue, and tansy can take on voracious Japanese beetles.
    Fennel is our favorite hornworm fighter—and it’s a delicious garden crop of its own. Whatever survives the hornworm onslaught you will be so happy to cook at home!

Be mindful of monoculture

If your garden is lacking in variety, you are inadvertently inviting pests to an all-you-can-eat buffet that they will keep coming back for. (And next time, they’ll bring friends.) Variations in size, shape, color, and aromas combine to overwhelm and bewilder bugs, distracting them from their favorite foods…

If you have a particular crop that gets chomped, again and again, try planting multiple varieties that will bloom, set, and ripen at different times, or break up your planting across sections of your garden interspersed with other crops. Not only will you bewilder bad bugs, but you will also attract a variety of acceptable additions (like luring ladybugs to devour aphids).



Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

More to Explore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *