Wildlife in Your Backyard
The battle between gardeners and wildlife is as old as gardening itself. Remember that pesky snake in the Garden of Eden? You may not have snakes in your garden, but odds are you'll find deer, rabbits or other critters chewing their way through it.
What to do?
First, relax. Man and beast can coexist peacefully, even if man has a tasty backyard buffet. These proven tips can help you keep damage to a minimum.
Plan ahead. Put deterrents in place early in the season, before critters have a chance to make themselves at home. Once they move in, they're much harder to boot out.
Scare 'em off. Try noisemakers like disposable pie plates, radios and whirligigs. Motion detectors that set off alarms or lights work well with night-browsing deer. Motion-activated sprinklers give intruders a cold shower.
Change it up. Alternate techniques frequently, so intruders don't have a chance to row accustomed to them.
Fence it in. Short fences will keep out gophers and most rodents. To discourage burrowing critters like rabbits, dig a trench to extend the fence underground. Fencing is the only foolproof deer deterrent, but enclosing large areas large areas can be pricey and unattractive. Try fencing smaller areas instead. Deer don't like tight spaces and will move on to easier feeding grounds. Even a short fence can do the trick.
Smell of success. Strongly scented materials like cayenne peper and blood meal may keep chipmunks, rabbits, gophers and woodchucks at bay.
Fake 'em out. Rubber snakes, plastic owls and other faux predators can fool birds and rodents. If animals get comfortable with the "fakes," move or replace them.
Spray away. Spray-on repellents sold at garden centers aren't a cure-all, but they do help. Check the label before buying; some products can harm tender plants or make food crops inedible.
Be willing to experiment. There's no perfect fix that works on all wildlife. Some critters are put off by the smell of human hair, while others will romp right through it. Results will vary based on where you live, weather conditions, the food supply and other factors. Keep a journal so you know what works in your yard, including a list of any plants the animals leave alone.