Having a garden and growing your own produce can be very rewarding, but quite often the gardener isn’t the only one admiring the fruits of their labour. Various critters are also looking to score their next high quality meal and with their strong instinct to survive, they can be very determined.
So what can you do if wildlife invade your garden?
The first thing that may come to mind, is just to shoot or poison them but there are several alternatives that are more humane and much safer. Instead of waiting until they get into your garden, try to deter pests from getting into your garden in the first place. Some examples are raised beds, barriers, fences, repellents and scare devices. To start you need to figure out what animal you’re dealing with and strategize. By learning a bit about the animal’s behaviour you can devise a suitable plan.
One of the most common garden pests are rabbits, although they are very peaceful animals they can wreak havoc in a garden and destroy dozens of plants in a short amount of time. You can install rabbit fencing which is generally 2-3 ft tall and should be buried approx 1 ft to prevent burrowing. It comes galvanized or coated, chicken wire could also be used but it’s not as sturdy and can rust easily. Hardware cloth is another option, however it tends to be expensive. Raising your beds out of view or making a barrier with plants they don’t like (examples: Azalea, Boxwood and Marigolds) are other ways to deter rabbits. Since rabbits are prey animals they prefer to stay hidden, so just by cleaning up piles of brush and other potential hiding places can make them feel less secure. Having your pet dog or cat outside can also deter rabbits and other unwelcome wildlife.
If you’re dealing with larger animals like deer, 8 ft fences are required. Or consider building solid barriers that prevent any visual of the garden to keep deer out. Spray repellents can also be effective, as they smell like the urine of a predator. As much as deer and other animals are attracted to the scent of vegetables, you can repel them with predator scents as they find them unappealing and dangerous. There are also spicy smelling recipes that you can make at home. The downside with any of these sprays is that rain/moisture washes it away so reapplication is required.
Birds are another pest for gardeners, they especially love berries and fruit crops. The most effective approach is covering crops, trees, shrubs with bird netting. It is also an effective solution to keeping chipmunks out. Shiny reflective material and balloons also keep birds away, as well as modern scarecrows, ultrasonic repellers and motion sensor water sprayers. The downside to these repellents is that over time they lose their effectiveness as the birds and other animals can become familiar with them and as a result their associated fear is reduced.
If you have unwelcome garden guests, consider deterring them with some of these humane strategies as opposed to more violent methods. As the ideal outcome should be coexisting with nature and wildlife wherever possible.