Gardening rules | Residence & Backyard

Gardening principles | Home & Garden

Many gardeners don’t have to be invaded by four-legged pests in their garden for years, but for others, deer or rabbits are daily challenges. Most of us enjoy the occasional glimpse of wildlife—if it doesn’t ruin our plants. Whether animals are friends or foes depends in large part on how hungry they are. When animal populations are high and food is scarce, animals overcome their instinctive fear of humans long enough to steal a good meal. Sometimes you can tell how close wild animals are to starvation by the persistence with which they chase after your yard.

Animals that have many other food sources can often be deterred by offending their sense of smell, using creative deterrent devices, or infusing their food with objectionable flavors. For example, vinegar and ammonia offend the noses of most mammals. Many of the tips take advantage of this fact, and you can think of other ways you can help animals decide that your backyard isn’t such a great place to have dinner after all.

Keep stray animals away from your trash. Keep raccoons and other scavengers away from your garbage cans by spraying the outsides and lids with low-strength ammonia, or spraying the garbage bags as you place them in the cans. Repeat the spray often, especially after a heavy rain.

Put those old, deflated, shiny metal balloons—that have been lying around your house from past birthday parties—in your yard. Cut them into vertical strips and hang them on poles around your vegetables and on fruit trees to deter intruding birds, rabbits and squirrels.

Protect your favorite flower or vegetable stand from hungry rabbits, moles, ground squirrels, squirrels, shrews and voles by surrounding it with garlic plants.

Some animals — including cats, dogs, deer, rabbits, and raccoons — can’t stand the smell of vinegar even after it’s dried. Keep these unwanted visitors out of your garden by soaking several rags in white vinegar and placing them on stakes around your rows of vegetables. Resoak the rags every 7 to 10 days.

This blend doesn’t smell great to humans, but if you’re not around and think wild animals may be taking advantage of your absence, it’s worth a try. In a 3 liter jar, mix together three raw eggs, clams and all, and a small bottle of hot sauce. Fill the jar three-quarters full with water, cap tightly and shake. Allow the mixture to ferment for five days, then drizzle around the perimeter of your garden.

Dig a shallow ditch along the side of your garden, which is often breached by wild visitors, and fill it with the dirt from your vacuum bag. For wild things, it will smell strongly of humans and convince them to stay away.

Thrift store row covers can protect all kinds of plants from rabbits, deer and hungry birds. Gather sheer white or beige curtains and throw them over the plants at night. If you want to leave them on during the day, hold them up with lengths of PVC pipe stuck into the ground.

Many old gardeners placed empty mason jars around the garden which reflect the light and when the wind blows over the tops the containers sing. The sights and sounds deter rabbits and many other unwanted visitors.