Maintaining a neat and tidy garden is essential for keeping out tiny pests that can get into your garden when it is not kept clean. Tiny pests like root aphids, earwigs, lacewings and thrips, which all have their sources in the soil, can cause big problems once an infestation occurs.

Most of them lay eggs that hatch into larvae that feed on plant roots. When the larvae emerge as adults, they eat the foliage and start all over again. This is a very destructive problem that is hard to prevent once it begins.

Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to help keep your garden clean. These are not only simple steps, but they work! There are many chemical-based pesticides on the market today, but they are viewed as last resorts by many gardeners who tend to stay focused on more organic types of control.

Keeping your garden clean is just another way that helps growers avoid the use of harsh pesticides on their plants. So, let’s look at some ways you can keep your garden squeaky clean to help keep pests away:

Wash your hands, wipe your feet, and don’t track in mud or dust. All of these little steps help keep your garden clean and pest-free. I simply change my shoes before entering my garden. I even use a small cordless vacuum to help capture any tiny little pests.

Airflow is important for plants. A good source of airflow not only helps plants become stronger, it also helps stop most of the smaller pests that either hop or fly from plant to plant. Indoor fans do the trick, and so do open vents in a greenhouse or shade cloth on outdoor plants.

Starting with clean containers is a must before any plants are transplanted. Scrubbing them with a good organic soap works great. Old containers can be housing dormant eggs or viruses that can be transplanted to your new plants, so give your containers a nice bath before you use them again to help keep your garden clean.

Sweep up your mess after your work is done. Foliage that is removed from plants may be housing pests, and those pests may still be there waiting to jump back onto the host plant. So make sure all clippings are picked up and disposed of. A small cordless vacuum works well here as well.

Install a strong, removable floor covering such as a poly-style tarp or a strong reflective material to catch water, chemicals and soil spills. This will make clean up easier and help stop some of those creepy crawlers form getting into your garden.

Never have your indoor garden near any open timber or carpet. Our friendly little spider mites thrive in those environments and once your garden is infested with spider mites, they are extremely hard to deal with. Simply cover any exposed wood beams and rip out any old carpet.

Don’t let your animals in your garden, especially your indoor garden. They carry pests that don’t react to us or them but are simply hitching a ride to their next meal. After playtime with the dog or cat, wash your hands, change your clothes if you have to, and even use that small vacuum to help suck away any pests that might be clinging to your clothes and hands.

Don’t smoke or handle tobacco near the garden. Tobacco products may contain the living and easily transferable tobacco mosaic virus, which will destroy your garden and everything your soil comes into contact with. If you use tobacco products, wear gloves and protective coveralls whenever you work in your garden.

Controlling the contents of your soil is another way to help keep your garden clean. Knowing its contents, the source of its microbial life, and if any fungi or viruses are present in your soil is a good start. Also try covering exposed soil with a weed-barrier-style cloth topped with about ¼ in. of clean playground sand—the type you can get at most home improvement centers is a great way to help eliminate pests and keep your soil clean.

Keeping your garden clean and clear of clutter will not only help stop some of the pest from getting in, but it also provides a healthier growing environment that leads to better results and bigger yields. By simply thinking clean, you and your garden will both be better off.