PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Any gardener worth his or her salt can tell you which critters do the most damage.

“Deer, rabbits and groundhogs,” said Post-Gazette garden expert Doug Oster. “Those are the bane of our existence.”

Oster says unless your plants are in a greenhouse, it’s impossible to keep the pests away. But three things will help, starting with fencing or screens.

“Maybe not the whole yard,” he said, “but the plant itself. There are certain plants that rabbits, groundhogs and deer love and if we can at least cover them and physically stop that pest from getting there, that’s the first trick.”

Yet, in a big open space, fencing is just about impossible – the area is just too big. Oster says not to worry. A new product on the market seems to really do the trick.

“A new one called green screen that I really like, where you don’t have to spray where you just hang up these little pouches of deterrent,” Oster said. “It’s all organic and won’t hurt us, won’t hurt the environment but the deer and rabbits just can’t stand it.”

Not all damage is done by animals. Bugs can also be a problem. Oster cautions against using a wide spectrum pesticide that kill all bugs in the Garden.

“It’s called Captain Jack’s dead bug brew,” he said. “I know that’s a long name, but what’s great about it is that it only kills the bad bugs. Those are the chewing bugs. It doesn’t kill the good bugs, and when we are in the garden what we want is to create this balance where the good bugs eat the bad bugs.”

And while your Aunt Martha may swear by some unconventional method to keep the aphids off her roses, it’s probably best to stay away from them.

“There are a lot of homespun remedies that we hear a lot about,” Oster said. “But I recommend going with something from a garden center or from a nursery that has been formulated to do that. We know that it is safe. We know that it works, and that’s really the best thing to do.”

Visit Doug’s blog on the Post-Gazette’s website here!

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