Nothing is more frustrating than spending the time and money planting a beautiful garden only to have animals mess up your hard work. Squirrels, rats, birds, deer, and even cats or dogs can eat vegetables, destroy flower beds, or dig up your garden. If you’re dealing with unwanted pests in your vegetable or flower garden, here are five ways you can keep animals out without having to use dangerous chemicals or pesticides -- keeping you and your landscaping safe and protected while free of animals.
1. Plant selection
Some plants are less appealing than others as a food source. If you're starting out your garden with this in mind, you can select various herbs, ground cover, shrubs, and even trees that animals are less likely to be attracted to. There are even plants that animals may find repulsive. A lot of aromatic herbs turn animals off, or you might consider thorny or irritating plants as a physical deterrent. Check with your county extension office for plant suggestions that grow well in your area, and space those along the edges of your yard; you could even mix them into the planting beds alongside your more prized plants to ward off animals while still maintaining the beauty of your garden.
2. Raised beds or containers
Raised beds and containers, although not necessary in many parts of the country, do help deter many of the smaller animals that may otherwise venture into a garden. The higher the beds are, the more critters will be kept at bay. You can even line the bottoms of your beds with hardware cloth to keep out burrowing and digging animals like moles, voles, and rabbits. As a bonus, raised beds can you help out while you garden by allowing easy maintenance and harvesting without having to kneel or run the risk of straining your back bending over the beds.
3. Fencing or netting
If you're battling large or flying animals like deer, hogs, or birds, fencing or netting is a fairly foolproof way to keep these critters out of your garden beds. There are tons of options that range from full privacy to see-through and come in a variety of materials, colors, and heights. You should easily be able to find a suitable option that matches the home's aesthetics. Do keep in mind, though, that unless you actually cage the entire garden, you will need an 8-foot fence to keep deer out, and if you're dealing with animals that dig, you may need to run fencing or other material a few feet underground to keep them from getting under.
4. Scare tactics
While you could potentially put out a scarecrow (make sure to move its location and change its clothes regularly) or hang CDs from trees, these aren't the most effective scare tactics, nor are they the most aesthetically pleasing. Most animals are smarter than we give them credit for and will figure out your trick, blatantly ignoring it after a few weeks. Luckily, in today's technological era, there is an assortment of motion-activated scare tactics that squirt water, make noise, or turn on lights when triggered by animal movement. Switching up various tactics will keep animals on their toes so that they have to reconsider what's going on regularly, which may ultimately lead them to find easier targets elsewhere.
5. Pest repellants
Just like picking certain plants may deter the animals, you can also opt to plant the varietals you like and protect them by adding repellants on or near the garden beds. You can sprinkle cayenne or cinnamon on the plants if you're in a drier climate, or spray the plants with hot pepper garlic spray if dry repellants don't stick. There is also a wide selection of granular and liquid repellents you can purchase from garden centers in organic and nonorganic options, including spraying bobcat urine around your garden beds to keep other animals out. These health-conscious options keep your family and garden safe and free of nasty chemicals while keeping animal visitors at bay.
Find the right tactic for your outdoor space
Your approach to keeping animals out of the garden will really depend on the types of animals that live in your area. Once you know what animals you may be dealing with, you can select one or more tactics to keep them away. You will likely land on a combination of the above-mentioned strategies to achieve the best results. Local garden centers can be a great place to start because they'll be familiar with what animals are in your area and will likely have suggestions for what has worked for others.