Your beautiful garden sanctuary can quickly turn into a scene of frustration when faced with unwelcome pests. These critters can devour your gorgeous blooms, decimate your vegetable patch, and leave unwelcomed mess on your patio. But fear not, there are ways in which you can easily combat these common garden invaders.

Pest control expert Walter Murphy at has created this guide, highlighting the most common UK pests. Here, you can learn how to combat each common pest and keep your garden as beautiful as you’ve always desired.


Ants can be an issue in UK gardens. They often come in large groups and can very quickly take over your precious garden space. Below is a list of methods on how to get rid of ants in the garden:

Find The Source

The first step when getting rid of ants is to find out what is attracting them into your garden in the first place. There is always a source. Start by cleaning up whatever may be attracting the ants and, hopefully, they will just move out on their own.

Stop the Trail

Scout ants work in teams and search for food sources using pheromones. These pheromones then leave a trail for the other ants to follow. This means that simply sweeping the ants away won't be effective, as the pheromone trail will still be present. Instead, you'll need to destroy the trail. You can do this by mixing three parts water with one part vinegar and simply spray the mixture across any space where you've seen the ants.

Repel The Ants

It is quite easy to naturally repel ants. Ants hate the scent of peppermint and lavender. Mix a solution of either peppermint oil or lavender oil with water and spray the mixture close to the areas where the ants seem most prominent. Alternatively, you can use a chemical solution to deter ants, but these can be harmful to plants, children, and pets, so you need to be careful when using these products. Make sure you always follow the manufacturer's instructions whenever using chemical deterrents.

Destroy The Nest

Once you locate the ants nest, you can destroy is using boiling water. Simply pour boiling water directly onto the ants nest. Try to avoid any nearby plants or grass as the boiling water will kill them. This is a fast solution to reduce ants but may not completely eliminate them.


Letherjackets are currently wreaking havoc in UK gardens. These critters are like tiny, brown or grey worms with a tough, leathery exterior (earning them their name). They live underground, munching away on the roots of your precious lawn, particularly feasting on grass. While they might seem small, a significant infestation can leave your once-vibrant green grass looking more like a patchy, sad excuse for a lawn.

Below are some of the best methods to tackle these pesky critters.

Natural Methods

  • Nematodes: These microscopic superheroes are your secret weapon. They're naturally occurring nematodes that hunt down and kill leatherjackets. Apply them in late summer or early autumn when the soil is moist and warm (around 12°C). Remember, these guys work best on young grubs, so timing is key!
  • Beer Trap: This might sound like a strange trick, but leatherjackets are attracted to yeasty smells. Dig a shallow hole in an affected area, fill it with beer, and cover it with a piece of slate or cardboard. The grubs will crawl in and perish within the booze. Dispose of any trapped critters humanely. This is not the most efficient method, but it's a natural option for smaller infestations.
  • Encourage Predators: Birds love a good leatherjacket snack. Attract them to your garden with feeders and birdhouses to create a natural defence system. Hedgehogs also enjoy a grub feast, so consider building a friendly haven for these spiky lawn patrollers.

Shop-Bought Solutions

  • Insecticides: There are specific insecticides available that target leatherjackets. However, these should be a last resort as they can also harm beneficial insects as well. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and only use them if the natural methods haven't done the trick.


Rats can also be quite common in UK gardens, particularly where there is food readily available. Here’s how to stop rats from coming into your garden.


Rats don't like onions. Simply the scent of an onion is one of the best non-toxic ways to prevent rats from wanting to be in your garden. Simply cut a few onions into slices and spread the slices around the edge of your garden and close to any visible entry points.

Owls Feathers

Rats are very smart beings. Research has proven that rats are smart enough to sense any threats within their surroundings. One of the most interesting things that rats learn is how to act in the presence of predators and how to escape an owl attack. A great way to deter rats is to place feathers from natural predators close to habitats or close to any entry points around your garden.

Essential Oils

There are a few essential oils that can be used to deter rats from your garden. This is one of the most effective and safest natural ways to get rid of rats. Eucalyptus, citronella and peppermint  are some brilliant examples of essential oils that are perfect for deterring rats. The strong smell of these essential oils can easily dissuade rats. Simply mix your chosen oil in a spray bottle with some water and spray it around the edges of the garden.


Ammonia is great for repelling rats due to its very pungent smell. Mix some ammonia with water in a bowl and place the bowl outside close to the rat's habitat. Be careful not to place it close to any plants in case the bowl gets knocked over as ammonia can kill your plants.

Steel Wool

You can use steel wool to block any access points to your garden. If there are any visible access points where you know the rats are entering and exiting from, stuff some steel wool into these gaps. Steel wool is a great barrier as it’s difficult for rats to nibble at steel wool. They will eventually give up when they find they can’t get through it.


If you want to get rid of mice, you need to ensure that you clean and sanitise. This applies to both the inside and outside of your home. Clean up and throw out any food sources that may be attracting the mice.

Here’s some tips on how to deter mice:

Store all of your open food away – Use glass or metal containers that can keep all of your food safe and secure. Mice won't be able to chew through your glass or metal containers.

Avoid leaving pet food out – When you leave pet food out for long periods of time, this could attract mice. Also, focus on cleaning up any messes and spills as soon as possible.

Remove any soft nesting materials – Rugs, fabrics, and blankets are great nesting materials for mice. Store these items away until your mouse infestation is under control.

Dispose of recycling materials – Mice will chew through many materials, such as cardboard, paper, and plastic, to create their nests. With this in mind, ensure you are disposing of or recycling these materials as soon as possible.

Remove foliage – Any foliage and tree branches surrounding your property should be removed from your property grounds.

Keep trees, shrubs, and plants trimmed – Any plants, trees and shrubs in your garden should be trimmed back and kept neat.

Remove any piles of rubbish – If you have any piles of rocks, rubbish, or old equipment lying around your property grounds, clear these.

Alternatively, you can use mouse traps to trap mice and prevent them from continuing to be an issue. However, many mousetraps are inhumane. Here is a list of the most common mouse traps with some information on each type:

Snap Traps

These types of traps provide a strong snap that instantly kills the mice as they come in contact with the trap. These traps are widely available and affordable. However, they can be a hazard to any curious children or pets so it's important that you keep them out of sight and reach. These traps are best for taking control of small mouse infestations in areas that are not commonly used such as in a loft or garage.

Automatic Multiple Catch Traps

These traps come in two types – wind-up traps and low-profile traps. Wind-up traps use a spring platform which flips the mouse into a large holding chamber. Low-profile traps use a trap door to catch and contain the mice. These traps can be used for catching a lot of mice. However, they won't kill the mice, and you will need to take the captured mice away and release them somewhere away from your property.

Glue Traps

Glue traps are flat and coated in a sticky substance. When the mice step on the trap, they will get stuck to it and won’t be able to escape. These traps are not recommended as they are inhumane and must be fastened to the floor in order to be effective.


There are several things you can do to prevent foxes from entering your garden. Follow the steps below to deter foxes from your garden:

  • Inspect the edges of your garden to determine where the foxes are gaining entry, and then block all entrance points.
  • Gather all of the loose items in your garden before nighttime.
  • Cover up any sources of water.
  • Block any entrances to spaces where foxes could hide, such as sheds or under decking.
  • Remove all sources of food. If you feed other animals in the garden, consider using specialised feeders so that foxes can’t get to the food inside.
  • Use plant-based fertilisers instead of ones that contain fish, blood, or bonemeal.
  • Leave a radio playing in the shed or outbuilding.
  • Use humane fox repellents.


There are several things you can do to deter and get rid of wasps. Below is a list of the best ways to get rid of wasps:

Keep All Food Covered

Wasps are attracted to food, especially sweet foods and drinks. If you have any food left out in the open in your garden or in your home, keep these covered. Also, make sure all of your bins have lids and are not messy. Wasps will be attracted to your food no matter where it is, so always make sure it's out of reach to prevent them from sticking around.

Deter With Strong Scents

There are certain smells that can deter wasps. Fresh mint, coffee grounds, tomato stems, and cloves are just some examples of scents that wasps hate. Consider growing some herbs indoors. If you grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill, this can help to deter wasps. You can also use certain essential oils to deter wasps. Peppermint oil is one of the best types to keep wasps away. Add some peppermint oil to cotton balls or tissues and scatter these around your garden. Also, place it between any gaps or in areas where wasps could congregate.

Use Citronella Candles

Citronella candles can be used to deter a range of different pests, including wasps. Burn these candles in your garden to keep the wasps away, allowing you to continue enjoying your garden space without worrying about the pests. Wasps hate the strong citrus scent. If you would prefer not to have an open flame, citronella incense burners are also effective.

Distract Them With Something Sweet

You can create a DIY wasps trap to help capture the wasps and keep them from being pests in your garden. Half-fill a bottle with something sweet like sugar water, sugary juice, or something similar. This will attract the wasps, inviting them into the bottle which they will struggle to escape from and will become trapped in the liquid. Place this trap somewhere on the outside of the garden, away from where you and your guests are.

Avoid Swatting

If a wasp does come close to you, you must avoid flapping your arms around and trying to swat the wasp away. This will only enrage or excite the wasp, which will then make it more likely to sting you. As difficult as it may be, the best thing you can do when a wasp approaches is stay as calm and still as you possibly can.

Avoid Bright Colours

In addition to being attracted to sweet smells, wasps are also very attracted to bright colours. With this in mind, avoid wearing bright colours and planting colourful flowers in your garden, as this could attract large groups of wasps. Instead, wear lighter or pale colours to reduce your chances of attracting wasps.


There are several ways that you can get rid of slugs. Below is a list of the best ways to deter slugs:

Use Slug Deterring Plants

There are certain plants that can deter slugs. This is the best way to keep slugs away without using pesticides. Astrantia gives off a strong smell that can repel slugs. Some of the other plants that can repel slugs include rue, fennel, anise, wormwood, and rosemary.

Remove Shelters

Slugs seek out shelters underneath garden furniture, logs, and bricks. You can deter slugs by removing any potential shelters, leaving them exposed to natural predators. If you make your garden less suitable for slugs, the problem will decline. Also, encourage natural predators such as hedgehogs and toads.

Make a Beer Trap

Create a beer trap by burying half of a container near the plants that the slugs are affecting. Fill the container with beer. The slugs will be attracted to the scent of the beer. They will follow the scent and fall in the trap and get stuck.

Create a Prickly Barrier

Slugs have soft bodies. With this in mind, prickly barriers can be great for deterring them. Use things like pine needles, crushed eggshells, and any thorny cuts to create a secure barrier around your plants, protecting them from slugs. Sharp sand can also work well. Just make sure that whatever you use doesn't affect the quality of the soil.

Place a Natural Trap

You can create a natural trap for slugs very simply by placing something like old lettuce or dried cat food in a damp, shaded area in the garden. This will attract a gathering of slugs. As they all attend the food source, scoop them up and dispose of them in bulk.


There are many ways in which you can get rid of slugs in the garden or prevent them from entering your garden. Below is a list of some of the best ways to do this:

Create Barriers

One of the best ways to keep snails out of your garden is with barriers at the entry points. You can use some physical barriers such as copper tape. Alternatively, you can use chemical barriers such as diatomaceous earth. This will deter the snails away from entering your garden at any potential entry points.

Create a Snail-Repelling Environment

Another way you can get rid of snails is to create an environment that isn't attractive to them. For example, you can remove all hiding places, such as rocks, bricks, and logs. You can also place some sharp objects around the garden, such as sand and crushed eggshells. These will irritate the soft bodies of the snails, which will cause them to avoid the area and seek food somewhere else.

Use Natural Repellents

There are many natural predators that can keep snails away, such as birds and frogs. Encourage these predators to come to your garden. Certain other animals, such as ducks and chickens, can eat snails. This will help to control the snail infestation.

Use Traps

You can also use special traps to catch the snails and remove them from your garden. Beer is an excellent bait for snails. Similar to slugs, you can create a trap by burying an open container next to your plants. Bury it so that it's almost fully buried but not so that the liquid will leak out. Fill the container with beer, and snails will fall into the beer trap and won't be able to escape.


Cats can be a nuisance in UK gardens. Below is a list of methods on how to deter cats:

Avoid Leaving Food Out

Don't leave any food out for animals as, once an animal knows there is food available in your garden, they are more likely to return. If you have a garden party or barbecue, make sure you clean up properly and pick up all food scraps that may have fallen to the ground. If you are leaving any food out for birds, make sure you place it high up out of the reach of foxes or cats. Alternatively, place the bird food in feeders where foxes and cats can't get to it.

Keep Your Flower Beds Well Watered

Cats don't like wet soil, so if you keep your flower beds well-watered, this will prevent cats from wanting to walk in these areas. Not only can this prevent cats from pooping in your garden, but it can also prevent them from stepping on and crushing your precious plants. Cats are more drawn to dry, loose earth, mulch, and compost, so try to limit these in your garden. Consider installing an automatic water sprayer to keep your lawn and flowers watered and to prevent cats from wanting to step on your garden.  

Install An Automatic Sprayer

Automatic water sprayers are brilliant repellents against cats. These devices are effective and safe at deterring cats from your garden. They gently spray bursts of water every few seconds in the general direction of the intruder. Cats, in particular, are not big fans of water, so this method will usually cause them to flee after the first spray. Connect the sprayer to your garden hose and then turn it on. You can then just leave it running. They work on a motion sensor, so they will only spray when an intruder is detected, so you won't waste any water.

Make It Difficult For Them to Enter

Check around the perimeter of your garden and fill any gaps where the cats may be entering. You can prevent cats from climbing up on your fence by placing some plastic roll-up fencing on top of your existing fence. If your fence is a bit battered and old, consider replacing it with a new, sturdier fence, which will help keep the pests away

Final Thoughts

There are several common garden pests that can wreak havoc in UK gardens. However, with a bit of time and effort, you can easily combat these nuisances and prevent them from ruining your beautiful outdoor sanctuary. So, if pests are an issue in your garden, consider taking some of these tips on board for the future.