There are plenty of ways to keep pests out of your garden without harsh chemicals. Different plants can work in combination with others to create an almost bug-free garden. Combination planting has been around for a very long time, and can make any garden successful.


Marigolds are one of a vegetable garden’s best friends. The plants produce a strong smell, masking the smells of the surrounding vegetables, as well as a phototoxin called alpha-terthienyl, which repel bugs. Marigolds are successful at keeping away Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, aphids, and many other pests. Not only does the flower keep pests away, but the roots are also successful at keeping nematodes at bay. French Marigolds tend to provide the best protection from pests in vegetable gardens. Plant near your tomato, pepper, and potato plants.


Planting garlic near other tomatoes and cabbages will discourage spider mites, Japanese beetles, and aphids. Spaying your garden with a mixture of garlic and water is another way to get rid of pesky bugs. Believe it or not, that garlicky smell isn’t liked by bugs. It’s best to plant garlic near carrots and lettuce plants, masking the smell of those plants. Another option is to mix six or seven cloves of crushed garlic, half an onion, and a small amount of liquid dish soap in a quart of water. Let it sit for a couple of hours and then spray the vegetables with a mister. Be sure to get both the bottom and top of the leaves. Bugs will stay as far away from the garlic as possible.


Geraniums are not only a gorgeous and colorful plant but a helpful companion to your garden. The plant secretes an oil called citronella that helps keep bugs away. Mosquitoes, cabbage worms, and leafhoppers don’t like the oil and keep their distance. Geraniums are great to plant throughout the garden, as well as around the house to keep as a natural bug barrier.


Onions are an excellent companion plant to carrots, lettuce, strawberries, and beets. When grouped together bugs, such as maggots, are repelled by the overwhelming smell. Aphids and mites are also among the group of bugs that don’t like the smell of onions. They can be used in a mixture with water to pour at the base of plants to keep bugs from returning. To create the mix, chop up one onion and let it sit in a quart of water overnight. Strain the onions out, and pour approximately one cup around the base of your vegetables. Repeat in about two weeks if the pests return.


Just about the only thing catnip won’t keep away is your cat. Ants, beetles, and Japanese beetles are all repelled by catnip. The cat-happy plant can be planted in combination with any vegetable, and do well interspersed in the garden. Just be sure to share some with your furry friend.

The benefit of using plants as a pest controller is that you end up with a natural and safer way to control bugs in your vegetable garden, as well as a garden full of food.