Raising a vegetable garden requires a lot of work, but animals can destroy it in what seems like the blink of an eye. Deer, squirrels, birds, groundhogs and other forms of wildlife can eat your plants, dig holes or trample over vegetables. Here are some strategies to protect your garden.
Figure Out What Kind of Animal Is Invading Your Garden
Before you can solve a problem, you have to identify the cause. You may look out the window and see animals eating vegetables in your garden.
If not, take note of which plants are being eaten and any tracks you see. If you’re not sure what species is feasting on your vegetables, an employee at a local nursery or garden center may be able to figure it out based on your observations.
Install a Fence
A fence can keep deer and other species out of your garden. Make sure that the fence you build is high enough to exclude the type of wildlife causing the problem. If you’re not sure how tall the fence should be, consult a professional.
When it comes to animals that burrow underground, you’ll need to install a wire fence and bury the lower part of it. Extending the fence at least an inch beneath the surface can keep wildlife from digging under it to get to vegetables in the garden.
If birds or squirrels are eating vegetables in your garden, covering up the plants may be an effective solution. A fabric cover or netting can let air and sunlight get to vegetables while keeping pesky wildlife at bay. If you’re also having an issue with burrowing animals, you’ll need to take additional measures.
Keep Vegetables Out of Reach
If you have plants that you grow in pots, putting them where animals can’t reach them may solve the problem. Try installing some raised beds to keep vegetables two or three feet above the ground.
Use Unpleasant Scents and Other Tactics
Some animals find the smells of certain plants and herbs particularly unpleasant. If you know which type of wildlife has been eating your crops, an employee at a local garden center may be able to recommend a type of vegetation that you can plant in or near the garden to keep that species away.
Hot peppers and predator urine may be enough to deter some types of wild animals. Repellents aren’t always effective and you’ll need to reapply them after it rains. Sprinklers, motion-activated lights and a scarecrow may frighten away some species.
Don’t Attract Wildlife
Animals may be drawn to something else in your yard, such as trash, pet food or compost. After they arrive, they may find that the vegetables in your garden are tasty and easier to access. Don’t leave other potential food sources outside. Be sure to cover trash and compost and bring uneaten pet food into the house.