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How to keep animal pests out of the garden humanely

Rabbit in garden
Rabbit in garden
Our Enchanted Garden / Flickr

As a gardener, you already know that garden pests can be a force to contend with and can ruin all you hard work in the blink of an eye. Being proactive and preventing them from entering your garden in the first place saves you time and energy when the fruit ripens and hungry pests swoop in to get their share.

Birds: We all know that birds can wreak havoc with the garden from pesky crows that scavenge for newly planted seeds to the hungry birds that make quick work of ripe fruit. While scarecrows may do the trick to shoo away crows, others require a bit more. Try owl or coyote replicas near the garden to deter nuisance birds.

Moles and Mice: Rodents devour flower bulbs, nibble on plants and make quick work of ripe berries. Try making your own repellent for rodents by mixing 6 tablespoons of dish detergent, 2 tablespoons of castor oil, a crushed garlic clove and a teaspoon of hot sauce in one quart of water. Spray the mixture around the area where moles and mice frequent. Some claim planting sage or mint repels moles and mice in the garden.

Deer: Many gardeners struggle with hungry deer that stop by under the cover of night to munch of fresh veggies and fruits. These aggressive feeders can devour an entire row of peas or beans in one visit. Keeping them out of the garden with fences is a common practice, but some find success with a variety of home remedies. Hanging aluminum pie pans from rope strung around the perimeter of the garden is reported to deter deer as the pans sway in the wind reflecting the sunlight. Likewise, mini bars of soap strung around the garden are thought to ward off inquisitive deer. Spreading chicken wire on the ground around the perimeter of the garden and covering it with hay deters deer, as they reportedly do not like the feeling of wire under their feet and move on to find food elsewhere.

Rabbits: Rabbits also invade the garden and devour fresh greens, peas and beans. They are most commonly seen at dusk and at dawn. Keeping rabbits out of the garden can be a challenge. Many gardeners use chicken wire fences to keep rabbits out of the garden. If you go this route, bury the chicken wire four to six inches under the soil and bend the wire outward at the end. This prevents rabbits from digging under the fence and gaining access to the garden.

Small animals can be caught in live traps and moved elsewhere, but this doesn’t work for birds and deer. Electronic repellents from companies like Bird-X can be used to repel nearly any critter and can often be purchased for a minimal fee. These devices send out sound waves that send garden pests scurrying without posing danger to household pets.

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