It’s happened to every gardener. Your vegetables, flowers, and fruits are growing and looking healthy. And then the invasion begins. Voles, woodchucks, squirrels, deer, rabbits, moles, and all those other mammals and insects start wreaking havoc on your garden. And while you might be a gentle, peace-loving person, your first instinct is to grab a shotgun and start blasting.
Unfortunately, that’s probably not an option. Zoning restrictions won’t allow it. Poison isn’t an option either, since they could kill pets along with pests. Traps work on some types of pests, but they are also a danger to cats and dogs.
So what is the best approach? Usually, it's one in which you find ways to co-exist with these animals while protecting your plants at the same time. Here are 30 ideas to help all those furry pests and bugs go about their business as you go about yours.
1. Build a fence: Keep many pests away from your flowers and vegetables by building a tall fence. Make sure the fence is deep enough to keep out the burrowing varieties.
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2. Make your garden less attractive to wildlife: Eliminate hiding or nesting areas such as brush piles and tall grass. A neat backyard has many benefits, including being less attractive to critters.
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3. Remove temptation: Clean beneath bird feeders, keep garbage lids closed, and remove fallen nuts and fruit from the garden area. Squirrels and raccoons will continue coming back as long as there is food to attract them.
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4. Get a pet: Dogs can deter and catch some pests, while cats will catch and kill voles and chipmunks. If you have a dog roaming your property, you're less likely to have a deer problem.
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5. Keep birds away with netting: Protect your plants with bird netting. Just around the time you're ready to pick and enjoy some blueberries, birds will steal them before you get the chance.
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6. Change your water routine: Do your watering in the morning so the soil is dry by sundown when the moisture-loving pests come out. Budget enough time in the morning to give your garden a good watering. This may also help your morning routine becoming less stressful as well.
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7. Stink them out: If you can’t identify the pest, try hot peppers and castor beans to keep most of them away. There are lots of great recipes for a DIY homemade natural pest repellent that you can try.
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8. Plant tin foil: Tin foil is not just handy in the kitchen. It comes in great use in the garden. Use strips of tin foil and mix them into the soil to keep birds away. To keep small insects like slugs and bugs at bay, use foil for mulching around plants.
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9. Use chicken wire: Chicken wire has been used in gardens for a long time, but there are good reasons. Keep animals away from your plants by installing a chicken-wire cage over any plants that are most likely to be eaten. Chicken wire is both inexpensive and effective.
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10. Plant for aroma: Think about what plants you are planting in your garden. Most bugs dislike aromatic plants like basil, sage, mint, dill, and thyme. Rabbits hate onions and garlic. Squirrels find daffodils poisonous and deer dislike their smell, so both stay away from them.
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11. Use an electronic rodent device: There are also electronic pest control options. Just dig a pilot hole and place the battery-powered device into the ground. The ultrasonic vibrations keep burrowing pests at bay.
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12. Use live traps: Although not the best option, it is an option. These traps lure the animal inside with food, and a spring-loaded door closes and locks them in. The problem: What do you do with them after you catch them?
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13. Use row covers: Row covers allow you to cover and protect several plants from insects without keeping them from light or oxygen. The covers are lightweight and float above the plants, moving upward as the plant grows.
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14. Employ garden enclosures: When deer and other critters become a persistent problem, a total garden enclosure may be the only solution. Also, use a self-contained compost bin with a lid to keep pests away.
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15. Use motion-activated water sprayers: These devices are available at any lawn and garden center. Using an infrared motion sensor, they combine noise, spray, and movement to deter animals without harming them.
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16. Try various types of noisemakers: There are motion-activated noisemakers you can purchase, or you can hang pie pans from trees and allow them to bang together if you're on a tight budget.
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17. Try visual scare devices such as reflective tape and fake predators: There are also several wind-driven options: Mylar strips, pie pans, painted balloons, and strobe lights are just a few. Just be aware that deer will acclimate quickly to these methods, so switch them up occasionally.
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18. Scatter mothballs as a scent deterrent: Many gardeners believe that spreading them around your gardens and flower beds will keep cats, dogs, and rodents away. Just remember that mothballs are toxic to children and pets.
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19. Build electric fences: True, they are expensive, but they work well for woodchucks, rabbits, and deer. As a matter of fact, it's one of the few foolproof methods for keeping raccoons away.
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20. Tie a bar of soap to fruit trees: Soap can do more than just clean your skin. Deer hate the scent of soap. Use a needle to poke a hole in the soap and wire to hang the bars in your trees.
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21. Release ladybugs: Each ladybug can eat 50 to 60 aphids a day or about 5,000 during its lifetime. Before you release the ladybugs into your garden, mist the plants to provide them with a source of water.
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22. Hang bags of human hair: Rodents, deer, and rabbits do not like the smell of human hair. Sprinkle some unwashed hair around your garden, or tie nylon or cheesecloth bags filled with unwashed hair on tree branches near your garden.
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23. Use squirrel baffles: Baffles work well for keeping squirrels and raccoons away from a bird feeder, but you can also use them to protect your hanging planters. You can buy them at most hardware stores, or if you're crafty, you can attempt to make your own.
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24. Spray store-bought repellents: You can buy the urine of predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, and foxes at garden supply stores or online. If you soak cotton balls in the urine and place them around the perimeter of your garden, you can keep many animals away from your plants.
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25. Build raised beds or containers: Sometimes raising your plants off the ground is enough to keep small animals, such as rabbits, away. They can also serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails. You can design these raised beds for function, but you can also have fun making them make your garden look great.
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26. Bring out the catnip: If your neighborhood has a lot of cats running around, there is a trick for that. Lure the neighborhood cats away from your plants by planting catnip away from the garden. Most cats go wild for it and will quickly lose interest in the other parts of your garden.
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27. Place Japanese beetle traps: These traps can help minimize beetle damage to your rose bushes and other plants. Be sure to place the traps as far away as possible from the plants you’re trying to protect.
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28. Try alternative food sources: Trick the pests. Place a bird feeder at each end of the garden. Some smaller animals will be distracted by the seeds and stay away from your plants.
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29. Discourage rodents: Mix one half of a cup of castor oil with two gallons of water. Then water your garden plants with the solution. It will help to enrich your soil as well as repel rodents.
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30. Try milk: Mix ¼ cup of milk with four drops of natural dish soap. Place the mixture in a spray bottle, and fill the rest with water. Spray the mixture on garden plants every 10 days and after rain to keep deer away.
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