Nasty pests can quickly destroy a season’s worth of hard work in any garden. Sometimes putting up fences or barriers just won’t keep annoying animals out. Whether it’s bugs, rodents, birds, racoons or maybe something else, here’s how to bait and repel pesky critters away from your beautiful garden – for good!
Identify the Intruder
It is absolutely crucial to know exactly what creature is wreaking havoc on your garden. Trying to repel insects and animals blindly may not end in your intended results. Each animal is completely different. So, as they say, “one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure”. Make sure the tactic you are using will actually fend off any intruders instead of attracting them.
Checking for bite marks, paw prints, and missing produce will help to narrow down the type of creature you’re dealing with. In the case of bugs, insects will usually make a garden their new home. Chances are you will be able to see the bug directly on exposed leaves or chomping on fruit. You may even see eggs that have been laid on or around the plants themselves.
However, animals are quite afraid of humans. The chances of catching the culprit in the act is much less likely. Take a close look at each plant. Inspect the leaves, fruit, and the dirt around base of the stalk. Each animal will leave unique clues behind.
- Small animals like rodents, raccoons, and even opossums love to nibble on fresh produce.
- Rabbits love to chew on big leafy greens. Their sharp teeth will leave a clean cut on the leaves.
- Deer love tasty flowers and fruit. Any plants they eat won’t have damage to the base of the plant. They are delicate eaters and only chomp on the bits they enjoy.
- Cats, skunks, and squirrels like to dig up plants. Sometimes buried items can be found nearby. Clear paw prints can usually be found in the soil.
- Birds usually go for bugs that hang out on or around plants. They will leave perfect holes in leaves or fruit after pecking at insects.
Protect Your Plants
The first step any garden owner should take is to cover their plants properly. Of course, fencing and metal plant coverings are a great first option and should keep out a majority of all larger nuisance animals. They are inexpensive as well as easy to place and remove. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to invest in some extra protection when possible. Try covering the garden in a tarp or netting to keep out any animals that might be intruding. Bugs may still be able to crawl through tiny crevices to get inside. Although, some sheer garden fabrics can be purchased and draped over plants. These sheets are much better at keeping out insects than other means of repelling. The fabric is breathable and allows sunlight to shine through, but keeps most tiny debris and bugs out.
Bait & Repel
Tenacious insects that can fit through netting or under coverings may be difficult to get rid of right away. Do as much research as possible on the type of bug you are dealing with in order to best repel the insect. Homemade and organic repellents can be used to ensure that the plants are not harmed in the process. Common household ingredients like garlic, chili powder, liquid soap, and alcohol are all thoroughly effective at ridding a garden of many insect pests.
If animals continue to burrow through, under, or around fencing and coverings it might be a good idea to repel them away from your home. Dusting chili powder or rocks around the area can be enough to keep animals out. Most animals have a very sensitive sense of smell and just going near the chili powder will make them think twice. Others do not like the feeling of harsh rocky surfaces under their feet and they will back off. Cheap and easy motion activated water sprayers are also a quick way to tell critters the area is off limits.
If nothing else seems to be working it might be time for bait and possibly a trap. Place bait in a safe area far away from the garden, but close enough to get their attention may make them look elsewhere for food. Nuts and seeds are great bait for most smaller animals, while produce, flowers, and even leftover food scraps will attract many other animals. If the pest refuses to relocate, look into some non-harmful animal traps. Traps come in all shapes and sizes depending on the animal you’re trying to get rid of. Before trapping an animal always get in contact with your local animal control for best practices and procedures. They will also coordinate if pick up of an animal is needed. If assistance is not needed, very delicately handle the animal with the utmost care. Throw a blanket over the cage to keep it calm and safe while transporting. Ensure that the destination for the animal will be safe and not bothersome to any surrounding neighbors. Most importantly, make sure the animal is protected and sheltered from any possible harm.