A Gardener’s Solution to Deterring Wildlife

Anne Mochulsky

Gardening is one of our favorite spring-time activities, and there truly is nothing better than growing your own produce and flowers. However, sometimes the neighborhood deer, gophers, moles, rabbits, racoons, and squirrels get to taste test our veggies and herbs before we have the opportunity.

 We understand that frustration and want to help you fall back in love with gardening, this time without any furry critters getting in the way. Check out our Ranger Ready approved gardening tips that will promise to keep pesky wildlife away. 

Who’s the Culprit?

The first step to deterring wildlife from your garden involves knowing who exactly is breaking and entering. Is it your neighbor’s dog stumbling upon your garden? Or could it be an unrecognizable animal, like a fox, mole, rabbit, or racoon?

Understanding the habits of an animal is key and will help to prevent them from coming back into your garden. This seems easier said than done, but luckily there are many online resources that can provide you with the information needed in understanding their basic habits. For instance, are you working on your garden all day only to wake up to it completely destroyed? This must mean that your garden is possibly being demolished in the middle of the night by a nocturnal animal. 

If you’re having difficulty identifying the culprit, using outdoor cameras with motion detectors toward your garden are an easy monitoring tactic. Also, look out for visible footprints and burrowing holes, which can easily identify at least the size of the animals in your yard.

Don’t Neglect the Unseen Invaders

Aside from the four-legged bypassers in your neighborhood, have you ever considered that there might be some smaller intruders to be on the lookout for? Can you guess who these intruders are?

If you guessed “ticks,” then you nailed it. While ticks won’t destroy your garden, they can put you at risk for serious illnesses. 

How did they make their way into your garden in the first place? Ticks typically latch onto animals, especially deer and rodents. If your yard tends to attract deer and other wildlife, then there’s a big chance that they could be bringing ticks with them. Ticks will typically latch off and hide in warm, moist areas where they can’t be spotted. Once they’re ready for their next meal, they’ll quickly latch onto the next host present – which can easily be you, your children, or your pets.

Common hiding places include tall grass, bushes, shrubs, piles of damp leaves, and log piles. Incorporating a consistent lawn care routine will help reduce the number of population of ticks in garden areas, as well your chances of contracting Lyme disease. 

As hard as we try, we can’t totally eliminate the chances of encountering ticks on plants in or near your garden. However, we can dramatically reduce the chances of getting bitten. Always make an attempt to protect your skin by wearing long sleeve shirts, as well as long pants and socks, and wear a long lasting bug spray while working in your garden. Our DEET-free picaridin bug spray will go on feeling clean, without damaging any of your gardening gear, which DEET is known to do. Treating your gardening clothes with permethrin will provide a long-term repellency against insects.

Make Your Garden Unattractive to Animals

Creatures enjoy areas with nesting areas and hiding spots. Eliminating hiding spaces involves some cleaning on your end; next time you’re doing yard work, make sure to mow any patches of tall grass nearby and remove any log or brush piles, which small animals like to make homes in.

Animals love free food, especially bird feed, which is commonly thrown in yards or kept in bird feeders in gardens. Move feeders further away from your garden and recreation areas to keep wildlife away.

Compost may be beneficial for your garden, but is a favorite treat among raccoons, and can even attract mice and rats. The best way to prevent them from eating your compost piles is by using sturdy, pest-proof covers and applying hardware cloth to any small holes or gaps. 

What Repellents Work?

Many types of repellents exist, such as visual deterrents and auditory scare devices. Visual scare tactics have been used for decades; and auditory scare devices are being used more frequently. These tools tend to work when they’re first installed, but don’t tend to have a lasting effect as wildlife eventually become desensitized to them.

Scent repellents are also commonly used by gardeners, and people often go as far as spreading garlic oil, castor oil, and a predator’s urine in nearby areas solely to keep animals away. These strategies will quickly become a rigorous task that involves constant reapplication.

We strongly discourage anyone from using mothballs as a scent repellent. Mothballs contain a toxic chemical, naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which can irritate the eyes and lungs, are linked to cancer, and can cause serious harm to children and pets.

Sometimes fences are a gardener’s last resort when trying to eliminate wildlife. And for good reason, as fences are usually the most effective, practical, and long-term solution. Permanent fences might be the most beneficial solution if you live in a warm region where gardening year-round is an option. Otherwise, temporary fences that are easy to install and take apart are a great option for those who live in a region where gardening is a seasonal activity.

Keeping deer and other pests away from your plants and the rest of your garden can be frustrating, but you should see big improvements by following our advice for preparing and protecting your garden. Not only will these tips help keep your plants healthy and safe, but they’ll keep the worst pests of all (ticks) far away from your family.

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