What Is the Best Way to Keep Your Garden Safe from Animals?
Gardening is a satisfying hobby, a great way to get some exercise and an excellent method for growing your own food. Unfortunately, humans aren't the only ones who love a good garden. Animals like deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and other creatures love to snack on your fruits and vegetables too, and they may even eat your flowers.
Fortunately, there are several ways to keep animals at bay without harming them and without losing your cool — or your plants. Best of all, most of them are easy to do and won't break the bank.
Scare Them Away
Wild animals are scared of unusual sights and sounds, so adding something to the garden that will startle them could be the trick to keeping them away. Of course, one of the most common options is a scarecrow, which is easy to make with some old clothes and straw. Technically, anything shaped like a human could do the trick. Some animals find owl-shaped statuettes intimidating and won't go near them, but it's a smart idea to move your "owl" around the yard periodically so the animals don't get used to it.
You can also add motion sensor-equipped items to your garden, like lights or sprinklers that come on when they detect movement. Some people add wind chimes or make their own with string and pie pans. You can even play a little portable radio in your garden while you're not out there. Anything that adds sounds that are out of the ordinary may work — just make sure whatever you choose doesn't irritate your neighbors.
Use Natural Repellants
Depending on the type of animal wreaking havoc on your garden, you may be able to use natural repellents to keep them at bay. These range from household items to other plants. For example, milk is said to keep deer away if you spray it in your garden every 10 days or after it rains. Hot sauce from your kitchen can also make your plants taste bad to rodents and other small creatures like rabbits. Placing soap around your garden may also keep everything from deer to squirrels away from your plants.
Some gardeners opt to plant flowers and herbs that are known repellants. For example, marigolds may keep rabbits and other small creatures away from your plants. They can also help with pest control, keeping insects like whiteflies and nematodes away from your garden. Sage, lavender, garlic, mint and peonies may also help keep animals away.
Add Some Fencing
If you're dealing with larger animals like deer and dogs, your best bet may be some type of fencing. Just keep in mind that deer can jump as high as 8 feet. A fence may not be 100% foolproof, but in many cases it's enough to keep most animals out.
You don't have to install a professional fence, either. Hardware cloth, chicken wire, bamboo, wood panels, pallets and other makeshift fencing can deter most animals. Even netting can help keep some animals from eating your plants. An added benefit of using these materials is that they're easier to work with and set up, and you can place them around specific garden beds or trees instead of the whole yard.
Get a Pet
If you have a dog or cat, your pet may be one of your best defenses against wild animals in the garden. Dogs can scare away animals by chasing them, and cats are naturally inclined to hunt smaller critters like rodents and birds. If you don't have a pet already, consider adopting a cat or two. Many people adopt feral cats that would otherwise be euthanized to use as barn cats or working cats. You just need to provide food, water and shelter for your new friend and let their instincts go to work.
Use Raised Beds and Containers
Another option to try is moving your garden up higher by planting in containers and raised beds. While elevating your garden won't keep animals like birds and squirrels out, it does often deter animals like rabbits and gophers that don't climb. As an added bonus, planting in raised beds can also help with weed control, and it puts less stress on your back when you're working in your garden.