Melinda's Gardening How-To: Deterring Wildlife Pests

Melinda's Gardening How-To: Deterring Wildlife Pests

They’re cute, they’re furry and they love to eat – your landscape that is. 

If you are battling with rabbits, deer, groundhogs or other wildlife - don't give up. And if you are lucky enough to be wildlife-free, be vigilant and prepared to prevent damage as these beautiful creatures move into your landscape to dine.

Consider Your Options
Fencing is the best, though not always practical control
   *Rabbits - A 4’ high fence anchored tightly to the ground will keep out rabbits. Make sure gates are also secured from animals.
   *Deer – A 4 to 5’ high fence around small garden areas will often keep out deer. They seem to avoid these small confined spaces. The larger the area the more likely deer will enter. Strands of fishing line set at 12” and 36” seems to keep deer at bay.
   *Woodchucks are more difficult. They will dig under or climb over the fence. You must place the fence at least 12" below the soil surface with 4 – 5’ above ground.

• Scare Tactics
   *Motion sensitive sprinklers – the passing deer activate the sprinkles and the blast of water scare the deer
   *Mini scarecrow is a motion sensitive device that can be set at any height depending on the animal you are trying to deter. It uses a horn and compressed air. Talk to your family and neighbors first before employing this noisy option.
   *Posts powered by batteries and baited with a deer attractant give deer a light shock and helps keep them away.
   *Owls, rubber snakes, clanging pans and shiny CD’s strategically placed throughout the landscape. Alternate and move these to increase chance of success.

• Repellents
   *Apply before the animals start feeding for better results
   *Commercial repellents applied as needed throughout the growing season
     -Always read and follow label directions
     -Make sure they are labeled for food crops before treating fruits and vegetables
   *Homemade repellents
    -Cayenne pepper – wear goggles and gloves when applying
    -Handful of human hair in old nylon stocking, slivers of strongly scented soap, cheap smelly votive candles……. Placed throughout the garden
    -Avoid using rotten egg based repellents on food plants

   *Animal resistant plants
    -These are not 100%. If populations are high and food is scare wildlife will eat about anything.
    -Check the plant tags and search the internet for listings of wildlife resistant plants.
  *Create a predator- friendly habitat.
    -Owls and hawks are just a few of the predators that help reduce the rabbit, ground squirrel and chipmunk populations

• Discourage Wildlife from Moving in
• Planting a Garden means providing a buffet for wildlife. But modifying the environment may help reduce the problem.
   *Eliminate brush piles, tall grass and wood piles where rabbits and plant eating rodents like to hide
   *Place outdoor pet food and water dishes inside at night away from raccoons

• Evaluate and Adjust on an Ongoing Basis
• Check the effectiveness of any strategy you select.
• Vary repellents and scare tactics to increase success.
   *Urban wildlife is used to the sound and scent of humans so some of these may not be successful in every situation.
   *Animals often become used to the sound, motion or scent of repellents and scare tactics and begin to feed in the landscape.
• Consider using a combination of tactics.

Plan ahead and don’t let down your guard
• A lack of damage this season does not mean you won’t have problems over winter and next year
   *Weather conditions can influence the animal population and subsequent damage
   *The greater the animal population the more likely damage will occur
   *Wildlife often change feeding locations from year to year

Don’t Give Up – Keep Planting
• If you are a gardener – you are an optimist by nature. With a bit of persistence and planning you can grow a beautiful landscape despite the hungry wildlife.