Keep nuisance animals out of your garden with pet-safe repellents and barriers.
for Animal Control
If you have a beautiful garden, chances are that neighborhood animals have noticed it, too. Sooner or later, you’ll need to fend them off with some serious animal control.
Tiny enemies like aphids and potato beetles are notorious for chomping lush plants to bits, with neighborhood thieves like deer, rabbits, and even your own pets ready and waiting to mow down what’s left.
Deer are notorious for knowing precisely when you’re not home so they can feast on your tulips, hostas, daylilies. Your edibles aren’t immune either, which can be devastating if you rely on your garden to feed your family (see Keeping Deer Out of the Garden). One vigilant market gardener near us thought they were protected but still lost about $1,000 of mesclun in one night!
Smaller wildlife can be just as devastating. Moles, voles, woodchucks, raccoons and birds steal fruit and vegetables just at the peak of ripeness, and often leave significant damage behind, like tunnels in your lawn or broken fences (Learn safe and effective methods to get rid of moles here).
Even the animals you lovingly feed can work against you. How many times have you found your dog digging up your potato hills or your cat using your freshly-plowed garden as her personal litter box?
These incidents can give even the most calm, peace-loving gardener murderous thoughts. Rest assured, there are humane, earth-friendly, proven solutions that can keep your garden safe.
Here are some tried-and-true strategies and specific solutions to protect your flowers and produce from wildlife and pets.
4 Strategies for Keeping Animals Out of Your Garden
Make sure you know precisely what creature is ransacking your garden. Putting up a higher fence for deer will be useless if raccoons or rabbits are your problem.
Catching culprits in the act can be tricky, especially if they are nocturnal, so watch carefully for tracks and scat to make an accurate conclusion. If you’re having trouble pinpointing the cause, make sure you turn to your local Cooperative Extension for help.
Don’t just plant a garden and forget it. Put up a fence, or another physical barrier to keep these critters out!
Deer protection typically requires a fence 8 ft. high, which is extremely effective, but costly. Some gardeners have had success with two shorter, simple fences spaced 2-3 ft. apart so the deer assume they don’t have enough room to jump between the fences or over both of them. We’ve also had success with shorter fences for smaller areas. Since deer don’t like to be trapped in small spaces, they avoid jumping into them.
If your problem includes digging rodents, you may have to add another layer to your fence design. You can usually keep voles and rabbits away by tacking chicken wire or hardware cloth to the lower edge of your fence and burying it to a depth of 3-5 in.
For orchards and berry patches, use lightweight mesh to protect ripening fruit. Birds won’t be able to push their way through the small openings to gorge. This mesh is also handy for setting up temporary fencing anywhere.
The best kind of fences are invisible to everyone but the animals you’re trying to keep out. Some products use essential oils, predator urine, or other offensive odors to scare off pests. Just shake some of the granules around the areas you want to protect, and unwanted animals will get the hint. Be aware that some of these treatments may wear off under heavy rains, so reapply as needed.
You can also scare away animals with devices that move unpredictably, triggering their startle reflex. Motion-activated sprinklers work extremely well, and many gardeners have had success with flash tape or brightly colored balloons that shift in the wind.
We’re not recommending that you kill living creatures, but occasionally, traps can come in handy to catch and relocate problem animals. When all of the other methods here have failed, it might be time to call in a professional who knows how to safely live trap an animal and move it far away from your yard.
For a complete selection of repellents and barriers for any pest you’ll encounter, check out our page full of safe, effective, natural products.
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