Jan. 29, 2019
It may be winter now, but it's never too early to think about protecting your garden. To best combat moochers, first determine which animals are frequenting your home. Deer and rabbits will eat herbs, shrubs and other woody plants, but groundhogs stick to greens. A mound of dirt is a good indicator of a groundhog’s burrow, and deer often leave signature tracks. Birds often poke at fruit on trees and bushes.
Once you know exactly which animal is giving you the most grief, choose the best method to stop them from eating your plants.
Spray, Spray, Spray
Using a repellant is the cheapest and easiest way to ward off unwanted company. These repellants are often made from foods wildlife don’t like, such as eggs, hot peppers and garlic or a blood-meal solution. You can make your own spray at home using scented soap, chili powder and rotten eggs to varying degrees of success. To be most effective, repellants should be applied after every rainfall.
Fence Them Out
The most effective method to deter animals from entering your yard is fencing. You can buy special deer fencing ($2–4/foot) or install an 8-foot fence, as deer are high jumpers. A few feet tall will suffice if rabbits are your only problem but you’ll have to bury the fence 10 inches underground if you have burrowing groundhogs. Drape netting over fruit bushes to protect ripening fruit and over young plants. To keep ugly fencing to a minimum, border just your vegetable garden rather than the whole yard.
Roll Out the Scarecrow
Utilize the element of surprise: scare animals away with a loud noise, a burst of water, a barking dog, metallic streamers or a scarecrow. You can even buy a motion-detection sprinkler or light that will automatically scare off unwanted critters.
Draw Inspiration from Nature
Because these animals are creatures of the wild, use it against them. Wild animals hate the smell and taste of some plants, so select landscaping that can shelter your more vulnerable plants. Anything that has a strong scent, is fuzzy or has prickles will deter deer and other animals. Some plants that deer hate include the following:
- Boxwood shrubs
Consider Other Deterrents
In addition to these tips, try some of these other deterrents:
- Leave the edges of your yard less cultivated as a decoy snack — if the deer can find a meal there, they may not venture into your garden.
- Always secure your compost so that it doesn’t attract wildlife, especially raccoons.
- Garden off the ground to thwart rabbits and groundhogs — grow your garden in pots on railings, in window boxes or in raised beds.
No matter how hard you try, determined animals will overcome anything to reach a food source. Overpopulated species, in particular, will go the extra mile to scrounge up scarce food. Wildlife may always have a presence in the garden, but you can work to embrace these animals and even plant around them.