Top tips for keeping critters out of your garden
Whether you have a small urban plot or a large backyard, your friendly neighbors – rabbits, deer, and other critters – will eventually call you. All of these adorable little animals are adorable and fun to watch frolicking around your yard. In other words, until they eat a row of hostas or devour your seedlings! Then maybe it’s time to start figuring out how to keep animals out of your garden, or at least away from the flowers and vegetables you’re trying to grow.
“With most wildlife, it’s really about reducing damage to a tolerable level,” says Dr. Scott Hygnstrom, director of the Wisconsin Center for Wildlife and professor and wildlife extension specialist at the University of Canada. Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “The most effective is to use an integrated approach, because there is no silver bullet to managing all types of wildlife.”
In order to prevent your wildlife friends from making your beloved spring blossoms and your beloved tomato garden their favorite all-you-can-eat buffet, you can take steps to protect any plants you have carefully cultivated. While there is an obvious choice of fencing, there are other tips and tricks to try as well, whether it’s including natural repellents or tweaking landscaping ideas like placing stones instead. of mulch. Your garden will be creature-free in no time with these easy-to-make ideas.
One thing to remember, however: Nature is unpredictable. Your neighbor three houses down may have deer problems, while you have no problem. But if you’ve just learned how to start a vegetable garden or plant new small shrubs and trees, it’s a good idea to be on your guard. And it’s even smarter to focus on damage prevention, rather than finding out you’ve lost an entire garden overnight (and yes, it can happen overnight!).
“Most techniques are better as preventative measures,” says Paul Curtis, professor and wildlife extension specialist at Cornell University, who also coordinates the wildlife damage management program. “Once they know there is something good, the wildlife will be more persistent.”
How to keep rabbits out of your garden
Wondering if rabbits are the culprits for your snacked veggies? If so, you’ll see tiny, perfectly round droppings, and branches or stems will be cut off at a sharp, sharp angle. “If you install an 18-inch woven garden fence, such as chicken wire, you can eliminate most of the damage caused by rabbits,” Hygnstrom says. “They are not pugnacious and they will hit a fence and stop. They are not going to dig, and babies are not going to squeeze in without their mothers.
Use chicken wire with 1 inch holes and crush the metal or fiberglass end posts, then stretch the wire mesh and wrap it around the posts. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and lasts for several years. To protect individual trees or shrubs, create 18-inch-high cylinders from wire mesh or hardware fabric, then place them on each plant, securing them in place with stakes. Rabbits love new plantings, so immediately put up fences to protect them.
How to keep deer out of your garden
Deer do not have upper incisors, so their damage has jagged edges as they bite and tear plants. They also feed at any ground level up to 6 feet tall. The most effective management method is multi-faceted, but you can start by erecting a fence 6 to 8 feet in height, says Hygnstrom. Although deer can jump much higher than this, they are unlikely to do so as they prefer to go the easy route for dinner.
On the other hand, fences aren’t always practical, especially when it comes to your flower beds or front yard. Creepy motion-activated devices such as sprinklers or objects that make deer distress calls can help. These only trigger when deer pass through, and they can be part of your overall management plan – although deer sometimes get used to these devices after repeated exposure.
You can also try repellents made with putrescent eggs (yes, they smell like rotten eggs, but the smell fades!) And other natural substances such as capsaicin. “Get them down early before the deer establish a feeding pattern,” Hyngstrom says. “But be aware that research shows that repellents work about half the time.” As for home remedies like bar soap, hair, or coyote urine (yes, that’s a thing!), They’re even less effective. If you try commercial repellents, follow the label, as some require you to reapply regularly or after rains.
Even with all of these methods in place, some plants are just plain irresistible to deer. If possible, fill your garden with plants that deer are less likely to devour and avoid their favorites such as hostas, daylilies, and roses if you live in deer country.
How to keep rodents out of your garden
Voles are herbivores and they tunnel just below the surface of snow, leaf mulch, and grasses. They like to eat the bulbs, roots and bark of trees and often eat at the base of trees. Your best defense? “Reduce habitat by placing stones instead of mulch near the base of valuable trees,” Curtis says. “Or bury a cylinder of 1/4 inch lattice hardware fabric several inches deep around the trees you want to protect.”
Moles, which eat grubs, earthworms, and other insects, also tunnel near the surface and leave volcano-shaped mounds of soil in your lawn. You can try repellents such as castor oil, which might work. Avoid using poison balls, which they are not interested in because they eat insects, not bait! The pellets also pose a risk to curious animals and other wildlife.
The use of insecticides to reduce insect populations is also not recommended, as it harms beneficial insects, such as earthworms. Plus, moles can simply redouble their efforts to dig! Moles are often found in wet areas, so improving soil drainage can help, in addition to other preventative measures like fencing.
When to call in wildlife experts
If you are having critter issues that you can’t seem to control, you may need to seek the help of a wildlife management service. For example, groundhogs, also known as groundhogs, are among the most difficult wild animals to manage, says Curtis. They are smart and can dig and climb, so most fencing is unnecessary unless you bury them at least 4 inches deep with an apron facing outward to deter digging. If you’re up against a cunning groundhog, it’s probably time to seek help.