Natural Ways to Thwart Garden Pests

Maybe you already know that sinking feeling that comes when you survey your garden in the morning, only to find it chomped and rooted to pieces. In severe cases it looks like a tornado struck; in mild cases, it's simply a disheveled annoyance. Of course you don't want to harm the intruders - deer, birds, rabbits, squirrels and more - so here are several ways to discourage the unwanted trespassers. First, consider these all-encompassing ideas:

  • Get an outside cat. When squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks see a cat, they think twice about invading.
  • Remove brush and woodpiles from gardens, flowerbeds, ditches and other landscape areas. These piles attract birds, squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks; getting rid of the pile removes the animals’ cover and forces them to find a new home.
Chipmunks are perhaps cuter than they are harmful, but they can still cause damage in the garden.

Birds

Birds dive bomb your tomatoes, scarf down your blueberries and make off with your figs before you can harvest them. Here are some deterrents:

  • Cover your plants with a fine mesh or netting.
  • Prune your trees so that they don't offer much in the way of shelter or nesting places.
  • Scare birds away with a scarecrow or plastic snakes and owls.
  • Keep a full bird feeder and place it at a distance from the garden.

Deer

Deer are notorious for late-night snacking, often using your yard as the buffet. Keep them out of your garden with these tips.

  • Plant bad tasting plants, such as daffodils and alliums.
  • Purchase and install a fence designed specifically to stop deer.

Squirrels

People have almost mythic battles with squirrels. To keep them out of your trees, your birdhouses and away from your bulbs, try the following.

  • Wrap tree trunks with aluminum collars to prevent damage. It isn't attractive, but it prevents squirrels from climbing.
  • If you have a pole-mounted birdhouse, use a plastic base so squirrels can't get a foothold.
  • Place a wire mesh over the ground where you plant bulbs, and anchor the mesh so it can't be pushed aside.
As many gardeners already know, rabbits are very persistent when it comes to feasting on fresh plants.

Rabbits

Peter Rabbit isn’t the only pesky one. Here's how to keep rabbits out of your garden.

  • Place a wire mesh over the areas you've planted.
  • Add a fence; it should be two to six inches below ground and at least four feet tall.

Using these simple deterrents will help keep your garden from being overrun by hungry visitors.