Wildlife is beautiful from a distance. However, no homeowner wants to find their carefully pruned garden overtaken by a herd of uninvited guests. Animals act instinctively. To them, any garden or landscape is a free meal. Fresh cucumbers, aromatic herbs, and juicy berries are tasty and nutritious. Unfortunately, these cute creatures leave behind a trail of costly damage as they munch.
Which animals do the most damage? Birds love fresh produce and will devour any ripe strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries in one day. A single mole can dig over 15 feet per hour! Deer often arrive at night to treat a garden like an all-you-can-eat buffet. They’ll eat any vegetables, flowers, trees, or shrubs that they can reach. Even a cute squirrel will leave behind a trail of damage as it buries nuts or berries for the winter. Keep reading for more details on how to can deter wildlife naturally:
1. Install a Fence
Many homeowners have an open, unsecured garden. This layout leaves an open passage for any curious critters wanting to get inside. Installing a fence around the garden’s perimeter is one of the best ways to deter wildlife. Animals can’t open a gate unassisted, and many won’t try to climb the fence. Best of all, an aesthetically-pleasing fence that matches the home’s exterior will help boost property value.
What type of fence works best? The structure should be at least 48 inches high to keep out large mammals. Since some rodents like to burrow, it’s also wise to bury the pickets at least 12 inches into the ground. Rabbits and groundhogs will hit a dead end the next time they try to get into the garden. Wooden fences are very popular, but they require more maintenance. Regular staining and painting are a must to prevent wood rot. Metal fences are highly ornate and can withstand wind gusts, but they might rust in humid conditions. Those looking for something that’s weather-resistant all year long should consider vinyl fencing.
2. Build Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds have become increasingly popular in recent years. Homeowners like them because they offer better drainage, create more growing space, and produce fewer weeds. Additionally, the trendy gardens may also help keep out wildlife. Raised beds make it more difficult for animals with short legs to get inside, like moles and chickens. Even cottontail rabbits can’t hop into them!
The most effective raised gardens are about 10-12 inches tall. It’s best to opt for a size that surpasses local wildlife’s jumping and climbing abilities. A shorter garden bed will suffice if possums and moles are the top concerns. However, if a homeowner wants to keep their Labrador retriever out of the garden, they should go with a taller design.
3. Cover the Garden
Take a look at the sky. Those beautiful birds can’t wait to take a bite of a ripe, juicy tomato. Unlike small rodents, a fence won’t keep them out. Birds can simply fly over a gate or wall to get inside. Moreover, deer, moose, and coyotes can hop over many fences. Covering plants with netting or chicken wire will stop taller and airborne creatures from destroying your harvest.
Garden netting creates an effective barrier. It’s usually made from high-density polyethylene, a type of plastic. Those looking for a more environmentally-friendly material can opt for metal mesh or jute netting. Since animals will still approach the cover, be sure to pull it taut so that they don’t get a paw or tail stuck on the mesh. Chicken wire on the ground protects freshly planted seeds and tubers. During the colder months, replace the netting with garden fleece for an added layer of warmth.
4. Try Natural Repellents
Gardeners who need a more cost-efficient way to keep animals out of their gardens should consider natural repellents. Gardens have tons of fresh, delicious aromas that summon animals from miles away. However, certain smells and tastes actually deter wildlife. Spraying the plants with these natural essences will keep the area pest-free without harming any animals.
Which repellent works the best? Skilled gardeners have a lot of success with a hot pepper solution. Ground cayenne pepper and water combine to make an eye-watering repellent. The mixture costs pennies to make and only takes a few minutes to apply. Simply spray the solution directly onto plants and the surrounding soil. For the best results, reapply the pepper spray twice a week. Those who don’t like handling hot peppers can also try dousing their garden with garlic, castor oil, or predator urine.
5. Visual and Auditory Distractions
Animals are keenly aware of their surroundings. The fear of lurking predators is always on their minds. This natural instinct makes them respond to any unusual sights or sounds. Adding visual or auditory distractions in the garden is a proven way to keep wildlife at bay. As an added bonus, many of these options are attractive and will give any garden an instant makeover.
Try hanging old compact discs or light-catching crystals on fishing wire around the garden. Many birds like shiny things, but they don’t like a lot of them at once. Too many reflective objects create commotion and make an area feel unsafe. Instead of investigating further, the birds would rather fly to a calmer location. The same theory works with mirrors, bike reflectors, and noisy pinwheels.
Animals also don’t want to be around anything that resembles a predator. Placing a scarecrow or hawk statue in the middle of the garden will make animals think twice before entering. For long-lasting results, be sure to move these objects around regularly. Otherwise, the wild creatures will figure out they’re fake.
Protect Today, Harvest Tomorrow
Planting a garden means learning how to live with the local wildlife. It takes weeks or months of hard work to grow the perfect flowers or vegetables. However, one lone animal can devour it all in a matter of minutes. From large deer to a tiny dove, any creature can leave behind a trail of damage. Luckily, there are many ways to safely and humanely keep wildlife out of your garden. Taking the necessary steps to keep out unwanted visitors will ensure you get to enjoy the bounties of your harvest.