Since the beginning of human existence, we’ve coexisted with wildlife. Much of the time we’re able to share space willingly, but in some cases we want to keep nuisance animals out. Sneaky, pesky wildlife can cause significant damage to your garden crops, especially during droughts or in early fall when many mammals begin fattening up in preparation of the colder weather. Do your best to protect your crops from these common backyard wildlife.
- Rabbits reproduce extremely quickly, and are hungry little vegetarians. They’ll happily munch for hours on your fruits and veggies, and can turn what would be a fruitful harvest into a meager handful. It’s an extremely frustrating experience for any level of gardener; luckily, there are measures you can take to discourage these nuisance animals from accessing your crops. Chicken wire is likely your quickest and easiest solution. You’ll want to use a roll that is 2.5 – 3 feet tall to surround your garden beds, and bury the lower six to eight inches of the fence into the ground so that determined rabbits cannot simply burrow underneath it. If you want to be proactive, create raised garden beds that are 2 to 3 feet off of the ground, since rabbits can only jump about two feet high. Putting a bed about 18” deep on top of a shelving unit is a great way to keep all your gardening tools close at hand while protecting your veggies from hungry bunnies.
- Squirrels will quickly eat your freshly-ripened fruits and can wreak havoc on a bird feeder. To protect your garden, a fence with similar dimensions to your rabbit-proof one, along with chew-proof netting over top, will be able to keep squirrels out. In our hot summers, squirrels often target juicy foods like tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries. To help discourage their thieving, you may have some luck putting out a water dish for them–they’ll be more likely to take the easy route with a nice drink of water than try stealing your crops. Grease or oil the post of your bird feeder to make it harder for squirrels to climb.
- Like rabbits and squirrels, deer are always looking for something green on which to munch. They can jump tall fences as well (6-8 ft), which makes them harder to deter if you are unable to install one big enough. Plants and herbs with strong scents (think citronella or mint) tend to discourage deer from getting close, and there are devices that you can get that will emit high-pitched sounds intermittently to scare deer from your garden’s edge. Tying shiny pieces of ribbon or metal around your garden will create flashes of light that may frighten the deer away as well.
- Though many people are afraid of snakes, they’re actually wonderful for the environment and your yard. They’ll keep away small rodents and ask only for a sunny spot to warm themselves. However, some people prefer to deter snakes because they are concerned for their children or nosy pets. To discourage snakes from calling your yard home, remove piles of leaves or yard debris under which these reptiles might hide.
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