It doesn't quite feel like summer yet, in fact the long range forecast is looking a bit cool for us gardeners. Not all plants find the cool weather bad, but as a human I have my complaints. We seem to be slowly narrowing down the limited amount of warm season months remaining before the snow flies again. And yes, we had snow not that long ago ... so anytime within the next six months is going to be way too soon.

Regardless of the weather and temperatures, we continue doing the things we love and try to make the most of it. There are others who have no issue with the weather as they are persistent like the common woodtick in spring. Mosquitoes are already making their entrance into our area without even an invite. They are what we call "vacation crashers." They are those ever-present pests that show up come rain or shine and enjoy feasting on us any chance they get. The only thing they can't fight against is our incessant winds that seem to blow like there is no tomorrow. Not exactly a fair trade off for those of us who enjoy spending time outdoors.

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So what do we do about this problem that seems to be around us each year? Oftentimes we find a repellent spray that we apply before we go into the yard to work and other times we just stay inside our screened in areas to get away from them all. I am not fond of spraying chemicals on my skin at any time, but in a worst case scenario I sure will.

There are ways around spraying when you go outdoors, but one just has to use a little smarts when planning for the summer months. One of the key things is to avoid having any type of stagnant or sitting water anywhere that can breed their larvae. The second course of action is to add mosquito repelling plants into your garden design to assist in lessening the issue.

Surprisingly enough, there are plants we are very familiar with that will emit a scent that repels these awful insects. One of the most familiar ones is citronella grass. This nice clump forming grass emits a scent that is found in most bug repellants and can be planted directly in the garden or in pots around areas that are frequented through entertaining. This grass can reach up to 5 feet tall and is quite dynamic.

Lemon grass is another great product that provides the same benefits, plus it can be used for cooking and other uses. It is not as tall, but has a nice flowing graceful habit that looks amazing in any garden. Plant a row of this in the back of the garden and watch it create the benefits.

Lemon bee balm and thyme create similar deterrents and can be used for many other things also. Plus they look great in the garden. Use the low growing thyme along walkways and when the leaves are stepped on the aroma comes wafting through the air for a pleasant scent to us, but one that is not so appealing to mosquitoes.

Cinnamon and lemon basil are great selections for keeping insects away along with rosemary. Many of us have uses for these herbs so they provide double duty for all of us.

Peppermint is another great herb in the garden. Not only does it have a pleasant scent and chewing a leaf every so often freshens the breath, but they are great for mint juleps also on those hot summer days when you just need a refresher. If that is not up your alley, then steep the leaves and make a refreshing iced tea.

Catnip is another wonderful plant for the garden, especially if you have a cat around that can enjoy it also. It has a lovely grey-green foliage and pretty clusters of lavender flowers and makes a nice foot high mound. It is a great accent to the garden.

Our beloved marigolds also deter mosquitoes. They have an element called pyrethrum that is a naturally created scent to deflect insects. It is used in many organic insecticides also and has had great results.

Take a nice mix of many of these plants and create a nice display together around the areas you frequent most in the yard for relaxing. They just might add to the experience of being outdoors without having to swat bugs all the time, especially in the early evening hours when they can tend to be at their worst.

There are natural remedies we can all try to avoid using sprays and pesticides. So do a little experimenting this year and see what kind of results you have. They are already out and about, so I suggest we all get planting and try to make it the most enjoyable season yet!